Conflicts of interest undermined senior recruitment

By David Donaldson

Wednesday November 22, 2017

Greater transparency is needed in the recruitment of senior public servants, argues Tasmania’s auditor general, following the discovery of undeclared conflicts of interest and poor selection processes in the recruitment of several top bureaucrats.

Three of the eight appointments reviewed are now under scrutiny, with the auditor general considering referring them to the integrity commission.

Although recruiting practices for the senior executive and senior positions “generally complied with the mandatory requirements of the applicable governance framework”, Auditor General Rod Whitehead said “it was concerning” to find that conflicts of interest were undeclared for some jobs.

“Conflicts of interest were not reported or managed by the selection panel for three of the eight positions examined and documentation supporting the shortlisting and interview process, the conduct of referee checks and the ultimate selection decision was, in some cases, not adequate,” Whitehead said.

“Documentation did not always demonstrate recruitment and selection processes had integrity, were equitable and fair and involved an objective assessment of the merit of all eligible candidates against the selection criteria.”

The audit examined the creation and classification of positions, recruitment and selection processes, appointment of successful candidates and the cost of filling vacant positions.

A number of employment updates required to be published in the government gazette never were, the report found.

And these problems are not new — agencies have failed to implement earlier recommendations on recruitment and conflict of interest, the auditor noted.

Whitehead told the ABC he might refer some of the cases to the Integrity Commission Tasmania, adding that some of the conflicts of interest had involved personal relationships between staff, as well as familial relationships.

The Mercury reports a senior male employee at the Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet is under investigation after a woman he was allegedly in a relationship with was promoted.

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