How a compliant EIMS can help integrity agencies align to 10 of the ACLEI’s best practice guidelines
In recognition of the United Nation’s International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) on December 9 2023, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in Australia, launched the Best Practice Principles for Anti-Corruption Commissions in the Australian jurisdiction.
The principles focus on the importance of corruption prevention roles. The aim is to support the sector through the sharing of information, advice and education to ensure it continues to act with integrity for all Australians.
The 12 principles capture the fundamental functions of integrity agencies and what should be implemented in order to uphold them.
While the principles do not offer a direct correlation to the recently updated 2022 AGIS, many of the principles focus critically on how investigations should be conducted. This is significant because if integrity agencies are interested in adhering to the best practice guidelines and the AGIS, they can do so simply by implementing the right EIMS (electronic investigation management system), as ten of the best practices outlined can be easily adhered to using a one. For agencies specifically interested in replacing their case management system to an EIMS, this is an optimal opportunity to build a detailed use case with key advantages on EIMS systems from a dual perspective.
Here’s how a compliant EIMS can help integrity agencies align with ten of the ACLEI’s best practice guidelines:
1. The ability to consider referrals from any third party
The ACLEI stipulates that the authority of Anti-Corruption Commissions should be extended to allow them to examine claims of corruption reported by any individual or entity. This includes public servants, government officials, public office holders, and members of the general public. This expansion of authority would enable the Commission to investigate allegations discovered by government agencies, as well as those reported by whistle-blowers.
A compliant EIMS can help agencies adhere to this best practice by not only capturing and storing critical referrals, but by providing a secure system that provides the functionality to triage all referrals and then share and collate relevant evidence.
2. The ability to commence an investigation on own volition (own motion powers)
The recommendation is that the Anti-Corruption Commissions be granted the authority to initiate investigations into instances of corruption or maladministration within their jurisdiction, without being prompted by a third party. This power to initiate investigations, known as ‘own motion power’, would allow the Commission to examine allegations discovered by the Commission itself, rather than being restricted to only investigating allegations referred to it by others.
The power of an EIMS in this scenario is that it captures and stores these referrals, allowing agencies to appropriately analyse and build cases around alleged parties. It is worth noting that for this particular point, feature-rich EIMS solutions like Comtrac offer specific methods to manage own motion powers. The Comtrac solution specifically offers a triage assessment area where an agency can examine allegations discovered within its own administration.
3. A requirement for the heads of public sector agencies to report allegations of corruption to the Anti-Corruption Commission
To ensure the integrity of public sector agencies, it is recommended that agency heads have a compulsory obligation to report any corruption allegations pertaining to their agency, to the Anti-Corruption Commission. Additionally, other public officials who may come across such allegations within the Commission’s jurisdiction should also be subject to this reporting duty, if deemed appropriate.
By implementing a compliant EIMS, agency heads can extract and report on outcomes as necessary for all business, stakeholder, and public interest requirements. This can be achieved by streamlining the majority of the process, making it easier for the agency to fulfill its obligations.
4. The ability to require the production of information or documents
As a means of obtaining evidence, Anti-Corruption Commissions should have the power to compel the production of documents or information through coercion. Similar to the conduct of hearings, the rule against self-incrimination should be waived concerning the documents or information produced, and corresponding immunity provisions should be implemented to uphold the principle that the prosecution bears the burden of proof and cannot force the accused to assist in the process.
By adopting a compliant EIMS, integrity agencies can efficiently obtain, store, and analyse evidence, which can lead to greater transparency, streamlined investigations, and consistent case reporting. Moreover, the EIMS can offer mapping and reporting features for the use of coercion powers, warrants, and other statutory powers, making this information readily available for the Public Interest Monitor (PIM).
5. The ability to refer matters to a prosecuting authority
Given that Anti-Corruption Commissions are primarily investigation agencies, they should have the authority (or not be limited in their capacity) to refer evidence briefs compiled from their investigations directly to prosecuting authorities, like the Director of Public Prosecutions, for evaluation regarding potential prosecution measures.
A compliant EIMS can become the single source of truth for an agency’s collation of investigations, in that it can act as an efficiency resource to compile briefs of evidence, should an agency need to refer evidence to a prosecuting authority.
6. The ability to make recommendations
Similar to other integrity agencies, such as the Auditor-General and Ombudsman, it is crucial for Anti-Corruption Commissions to have the ability to issue recommendations to heads of public sector agencies that stem from their investigations. These recommendations may pertain to individuals or systemic issues discovered through the Commission’s work, with the objective of reinforcing the integrity framework, anti-corruption controls, and preventing future corrupt behaviour.
As a best practice, Anti-Corruption Commissions should also be capable of providing recommendations to the public sector as a whole. These recommendations may be presented in Parliament or given to an appropriate Minister, focusing on addressing corruption risks or vulnerabilities prevalent throughout the public sector. Implementing a compliant EIMS can help agencies issue recommendations through referral reports and briefs of evidence with the option to provide the relevant evidence in deciding the matter.
7. The ability to report on investigations and make public statements
One of the essential methods for an Anti-Corruption Commission to provide transparency in their operations is via their ability to make public statements and report on investigations, including oversight of any recommendations implemented. This also serves to assure the public sector that corruption allegations are handled appropriately and as a means of general deterrence.
Anti-Corruption Commissions must ensure procedural fairness for individuals who may be impacted by proposed findings in reports. In deciding whether to release a report or make a public statement, they should weigh the public interest in disclosing the information against any potential harmful consequences that may result. A compliant EIMS can assist in this regard by exporting and managing the number of investigations and stakeholders involved, thus contributing to more efficient and effective reporting processes.
8. A corruption prevention function
To complement their investigation function, an Anti-Corruption Commission should also have a corruption prevention function. While investigations look at past events, the prevention function focuses on identifying vulnerabilities and ways to prevent or mitigate the risk of similar events occurring in the future. Adequate resources are necessary for this function to support public officials and agencies in establishing effective anti-corruption controls. The prevention function may include education, engagement, research, advice, support, and specific projects. It is an essential element of a robust anti-corruption framework. A compliant EIMS can complete business and intelligence reporting to give insight into corruption prevention methods.
9. A sufficient and predictable budget
An Anti-Corruption Commission’s ability to carry out its legal duties can be impeded by inadequate funding, which can also jeopardise its perceived or actual independence. Thus, it is crucial for the Commission to have a sufficient and predictable budget that can cover its operational costs. Additionally, the budget should be isolated as much as possible from political influence or interference.
An advanced EIMS solution such as Comtrac can record investigative timeframes in budget predictions to help agencies accurately report on and align with operational costs.
10. Appropriate oversight
To ensure transparency and accountability, it is important to establish appropriate oversight for Anti-Corruption Commissions, given the extensive powers they possess. Examples of such oversight mechanisms may include a dedicated parliamentary committee and an independent inspectorate.
In respect of investigative functions, every decision and deciding factor can be recorded in EIMS. Simplifying the act of sharing and providing transparent oversight.
While not all best practice guides from the recently published ACLEI guidelines can be adhered to using an EIMS, the majority of them can. And as you can see, a complaint EIMS – while in its infancy of agency adoption – boasts many critical functions that will allow agencies to simplify the effort to comply and align with both the 2022 AGIS and the ACLEI’s anti-corruption guidelines.
However, not all EIMS are created equal. Finding the right solution to suit your integrity agency’s needs is easier said than done. Comtrac is currently the leading investigation management solution provider to Australian government agencies. We’re specialists in investigation management theory and can offer the solutions, support and operational support your agency needs to adhere to its sectors unique guidelines. Book a demo with us for more on how we can help.
Unsure if your CMS can currently support your agency’s needs? Test your CMS with our interactive quiz, and uncover if it aligns with the latest government agency standards.