Serious complaints

Know how to prevent and manage procurement-related complaints.
On this page
What you need to know
  1. Complaints about alleged criminal activity or corrupt behaviour should be referred directly to the appropriate statutory authority.
  2. Each authority may have different processes for investigating a complaint.
  3. Generally, each authority will determine whether or not an investigation is warranted, and whether they have the resources available for investigation.

If you're concerned about any activity that could involve fraud, criminality, corrupt conduct, maladministration, or serious and substantial waste of public funds, you can and should immediately make a report via the appropriate external channel.

Corrupt conduct (ICAC)

Corrupt conduct is defined in the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (‘the ICAC Act’) as deliberate or intentional wrongdoing. It is not negligence or a mistake.

If you become aware of a NSW public official acting corruptly, or a member of the public acting corruptly in order to influence a NSW public official, you should refer your complaint immediately to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

ICAC has a wide-ranging jurisdiction that extends to all NSW public sector agencies (with some exceptions), their employees and contract staff in government departments and state-owned corporations, local councils, members of Parliament, ministers, the judiciary and the governor. The ICAC's jurisdiction also extends to those performing public official functions.

Read more about ICAC on their website.

Maladministration (NSW Ombudsman)

If you have a complaint about maladministration of an agency, or perceived integrity issues, you may complain to the NSW Ombudsman. However, be aware that the NSW Ombudsman will give preference to complaints about systemic deficiencies in public administration, abuse of power, significant public interest issues, and other broad-ranging issues.

You can make a complaint to the NSW Ombudsman online. The NSW Ombudsman has wide discretion under the Ombudsman Act 1974 to decide which complaints they pursue, given the limits of their resourcing. The NSW Ombudsman is not obliged to pursue every complaint lodged, and they may choose not to pursue your complaint.

The NSW Ombudsman is an independent integrity agency that holds NSW government agencies (and certain non-government organisations) accountable to the people of NSW. They watch over most public sector and some private sector agencies in NSW. Their role is to make sure these agencies and their staff do their jobs properly and meet their responsibilities to the community.

The NSW Ombudsman also makes complaint handling resources available for use by the community, including fact sheets, guidelines and a guide to ‘smart complaining’.

Read more about the NSW Ombudsman on their website.

Serious and substantial waste (Audit Office of NSW)

Requests for audits by the Audit Office of NSW can only be made by auditees, the Treasurer, ministers, the Office of Local Government within the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and both Houses of Parliament.

Audits help parliament hold government accountable for its use of public resources, and determine whether public money is spent efficiently, effectively, economically and in accordance with the law.

Generally, the Audit Office conducts financial and performance audits under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 and the Local Government Act 1993. Sometimes, the Audit Office may conduct special audits to confirm that specific legislation, directions and regulations have been adhered to.

The Audit Office of New South Wales is a statutory authority, established under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.

Read more about the Audit Office of NSW on their website.

Private or government information (Information and Privacy Commission NSW)

If you believe a NSW public sector agency or organisation has misused your personal information, you can complain to the agency, who must advise and consult with the NSW Privacy Commissioner on all privacy complaints. Alternatively, you can complain directly to the NSW Privacy Commissioner.

The Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC) is an independent statutory authority that administers legislation dealing with privacy and access to government held information in New South Wales.

Read more about the Information and Privacy Commission NSW on their website.

Administration review (NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal)

In some limited cases, you may be able to have an agency decision reviewed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The types of cases dealt with by NCAT are broad and diverse. You can find a list of the jurisdictions where NCAT’s Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division is able to act on the NCAT website.

Be aware that NCAT has a schedule of fees and charges for applications, appeals and other services.

Read more about the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal on their website.