Tips and Traps in Selecting External Investigators
Last updated: 07 Mar 2014
This page is: archived
Australian Public Service (APS) employees are required to behave in accordance with the APS Code of Conduct under the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act). Where an employee is suspected of behaving in a way that is in breach of the Code of Conduct, agencies may conduct an investigation of that employee's behaviour by way of procedures established under subsection 15(3) of the PS Act.
Depending on the circumstances, agencies may find that they require the services of an external investigator to conduct (or assist with) an investigation of suspected misconduct. This could occur, for example, where agencies do not have the resources or expertise to conduct investigations themselves1
The Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) has developed this guide to assist APS managers and human resource practitioners with selecting and managing the engagement of an external investigator to undertake an investigation of suspected misconduct. The guide may also assist those who are managing investigations conducted by APS employees.
The Commission would like to thank the Departments of Agriculture, Defence, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Health, Human Services, Immigration and the Australian Taxation Office for their contributions to the development of this guide.
The objective of the guide is to assist agencies in managing these investigations in a way that will produce a good quality outcome and represents value for money for the agency.
The guide provides advice on:
- the decision making framework
- the circumstances in which an agency may choose to engage an external investigator
- the role of the external investigator
- identifying and engaging a person with the appropriate skills to conduct the investigation
- specifying what will be required of the external investigator in the contract
- briefing and managing the performance of the external investigator
- deliverables required from an investigator
- investigator training programs
- where to access further information
- details on cooperative agency procurement.
Limitations of the guide
The guide is not a comprehensive guide to managing and investigating suspected misconduct. Those involved in these matters should refer to the guidance in the Commission's publication Handling Misconduct: A human resources practitioner's guide to the reporting and handling of suspected and determined breaches of the APS Code of Conduct2 available on the Commission's website.
This guide is also not a guide on contract management. The Department of Finance (Finance) has policy responsibility for procurement. When conducting procurement, agencies must comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs), and their procurement instructions, and guidelines, and spending approval processes.
The Australian National Audit Office has produced a better practice guide on developing and managing contracts. The guide covers the phases of the procurement cycle commencing from the selection of a preferred tenderer or contractor through to managing and ending the contract3.
Further information on applying the procurement framework is also available from each agency's procurement area.
In this guide, the terms 'external investigator', 'investigator' and 'contractor' are used interchangeably to describe private sector contractors engaged by an agency to conduct an investigation of suspected misconduct.
A reference to an agency's 'misconduct procedures' or 'subsection 15(3) procedures' is a reference to the written procedures made by the agency head for the purpose of determining whether an APS employee, or former employee, has breached the APS Code of Conduct and for determining sanction. These written procedures are made under subsection 15(3) of the PS Act.
The decision making framework
The APS Values and Employment Principles together articulate the culture and operating ethos of the APS. They are supported by a Code of Conduct which sets out the standards of behaviour and conduct expected of APS employees. The Code of Conduct includes a requirement that an APS employee must at all times behave in a way that upholds the APS Values and Employment Principles (paragraph 13(11)(a) of the PS Act).
A decision that an employee has breached the Code of Conduct is likely to have a significant impact on that employee and is a serious matter. The decision has implications for an employee's reputation and future employment prospects and the sanctions that can be imposed can have serious financial and employment impacts. These decisions may also be subject to review by the Merit Protection Commissioner and/or by courts or tribunals.
Decisions concerning breaches of the Code of Conduct are also important because they provide assurance to the Government and to the wider community that misconduct is being dealt with appropriately in an APS agency. The way suspected misconduct is investigated and the resulting breach and sanction decisions indicate the agency's commitment to fairness, ethics and accountability in its people management practices.
In making decisions on conduct matters, decision makers are bound by the usual requirements of administrative law, including a requirement that:
- an affected employee must be afforded procedural fairness4
- procedures required by law in connection with the decision are observed
- there should be evidence to justify the decision
- the decision should not be made in accordance with a rule or policy without regard to the merits of the particular case.
The Administrative Review Council has issued a number of best practice guides to lawful decision making to assist decision makers. They cover guides on 'Lawfulness', 'Natural Justice', 'Evidence, Facts and Findings', 'Reasons' and 'Accountability'5. These are a valuable resource for investigators, decision makers and managers who are managing an external investigator.
When might an agency consider hiring an external investigator?
An agency may decide to engage an external investigator for various reasons. These include:
- Where the agency considers it to be a cost effective way of managing its investigations caseload.
- The agency is small and has limited expertise internally, or cannot commit the internal resources required to conduct an investigation.
- The allegations concern matters that require expertise which is not available in the agency.
- There is difficulty finding people within the agency to investigate who would be seen to be independent and unbiased.
- Where public confidence in the administration of the agency would be best served by an investigation that is at 'arm's length' from the agency.
Another option could be to use an employee from another APS agency which would also have the added benefit of assisting in building capability across the APS. Alternatively, for non-SES employees suspected of breaching the Code of Conduct, and with the relevant employee's agreement, an agency may seek the services of the Merit Protection Commissioner to conduct the investigation.
The role of the external investigator
Depending on the circumstances, an external investigator may be engaged to perform various tasks. The Commission is aware that agencies commonly engage an external investigator to:
- assist the breach decision maker with an investigation into part or all of the suspected misconduct
- conduct an investigation and make a recommendation to the agency breach decision maker about whether a breach has occurred
- this may include making a recommendation about a sanction to the agency
- conduct an investigation and determine whether a breach has occurred
- this may include making a recommendation about a sanction to the agency
- conduct an investigation, determine whether a breach has occurred, and determine a sanction if one is required.
There are advantages and disadvantages with each option. In general, there are significant advantages in separating the investigation from the decision making process. In particular, if the external investigator's role is limited to assisting with, or conducting, an investigation and making recommendations, this allows the agency decision maker to ensure that the process is procedurally sound. It also offers the opportunity to correct any procedural errors in the investigation before a decision is made.
Where the investigator's task is to make a recommendation to the agency decision maker, this also ensures that the decision maker is available to answer questions and to explain the reasons for their decision, should the decision be subject to administrative review or legal challenge.
However, arranging for the investigator to have decision making powers may avoid double handling of the matter and may save costs and time. It may also be necessary to provide the investigator with decision making powers because the outcome needs to be independent of agency decision makers.
If an external investigator is tasked with determining whether a person has breached the Code of Conduct, the agency needs to ensure that the investigator is properly authorised in accordance with the agency's subsection 15(3) procedures.
Where an agency requires an external investigator to impose a sanction, authority to delegate the statutory power to impose a sanction to an 'outsider' must be obtained from the Australian Public Service Commissioner (the Commissioner) in accordance with subsection 78(8) of the PS Act6. The Commissioner considers each request on a case-by-case basis and, before giving consent, takes into account a range factors, including the duties to be performed and the qualifications and skills of the outsider.
Key attributes that an investigator should possess
As indicated above, decisions made about suspected misconduct are important administrative decisions, both in their impact on the person under investigation and in relation to stakeholder confidence in an agency's employment decisions generally.
There are some essential skills and capabilities that external investigators engaged to undertake investigations into suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct need to be able to demonstrate. These will be important in any evaluation of the skills of potential contractors.
These specific skills and capabilities are:
- a good understanding of the APS employment framework, in particular the PS Act and subordinate legislation, and the relevant requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act)7
- expertise in conducting administrative investigations which requires, among other things, the capacity to weigh often conflicting evidence for the purpose of making findings of fact
- a good understanding of administrative decision making, including the requirements of procedural fairness and the need for balanced, reasonable and fair decisions
- a capacity to provide a written report that is evidence-based, demonstrates sound reasoning and sets out the process followed in the investigation and the findings in a logical, clear way8
- sound analytical skills, good judgement, interpersonal and strong oral and written communication skills
- sound skills in gathering evidence and conducting interviews.
Risks arising from engaging the 'wrong' investigator
There are some obvious risks arising from engaging a contractor who does not have the appropriate capabilities. Examples include:
- The investigator does not comply with the agency's procedures for investigating suspected misconduct established under subsection 15(3) of the PS Act. This can result in a procedural flaw that may lead to a recommendation from the Merit Protection Commissioner that the breach and/or sanction decision be set aside. A procedural flaw may also lead to the breach and/or sanction decision being set aside by a court.
- The individual under investigation is unable to respond to the case against them appropriately because of inadequacies in the case put to them, resulting in a procedural flaw with the same consequences as above.
- The investigator is engaged to undertake the investigation, but subsequently advises that they had not realised the level of difficulty of the case and withdraws their services while the investigation is underway.
- An investigator that has little expertise in conducting administrative inquiries cannot competently weigh the evidence about the individual's behaviour to make clear findings of fact. This can result in a Merit Protection Commissioner recommendation that the decision be set aside, and/or the decision is set aside by a court.
- Having a decision set aside on review is more than just a 'technical glitch'. It increases the time and resources required to resolve an issue and can influence employee opinion on the fairness and reasonableness of the agency's actions, making it more difficult to enforce appropriate standards of behaviour.
Engaging the investigator
Identifying the right investigator, providing clear instructions about their role and responsibilities, and managing their performance throughout the period of the contract is critical to obtaining value for money. Whoever is chosen should be 'fit for purpose'. Particular investigators may suit particular types of cases-investigating a relatively straightforward suspected misuse of credit card is quite different from investigating alleged bullying and harassment.
After identifying a need for investigator services and determining the scope, risk and estimated cost of the investigation, an agency will need to consider how the investigator services will be obtained from the market.
The engagement and contract management process for outsourced Code of Conduct investigations is not different, in its essentials, from the management of other types of contracts. Accordingly, an agency considering engaging a contractor to undertake a Code of Conduct investigation must comply with the CPRs and the agency's procurement instructions and guidelines, and spending approval processes.
Sourcing investigator services from the market—procurement methods
The CPRs set out the rules that agencies must comply with when they procure goods and services 9. The estimated cost of the investigator services will largely determine the procurement method for the agency, those methods being an open tender, prequalified tender or limited tender. A limited tender under the CPRs 'involves an agency approaching one or more potential suppliers to make submissions, where the process does not meet the rules for open tender or prequalified tender'10.
Cooperative procurement enables the use of a procurement contract by more than one agency. Agencies can procure cooperatively by a joint approach to the market and/or where an agency/ies establish a contract or standing offer arrangement that allows other agencies to access.
If an agency wishes to join an existing contract of another agency, the initial request for services and the contract/deed of standing offer must have already specified potential use by other agencies (a multi-agency access clause/s).Agencies joining an existing contract must ensure that:
- value for money is achieved
- the goods and services being procured are the same as provided for within the contract
- the terms and conditions of the contract are not being materially altered11.
Smaller agencies may wish to check with their portfolio agencies to see whether cooperative procurement arrangements for investigation services exist which they could access.
The AusTender12 search functionality also allows the searching of current cooperative procurement arrangements in APS agencies. Providers listed on the Legal Services Multi-Use List may also offer such services13.
Some agencies have already approached the market and have established a panel for investigation services. Three agencies with these arrangements in place, at the time of writing, are listed at the end of this guide under section 15.
Preliminary discussion before engaging a potential investigator
If an open tender is not required (under the CPRs), and undesirable, then a limited tender may be undertaken. In this case a preliminary discussion with the investigator/s may be suitable. Such discussions should focus on the contractor/s suitability for the role in accordance with evaluation criteria. It provides an opportunity to:
- confirm that the potential investigator has the expertise to investigate the case, given the level of complexity involved
- confirm training undertaken and/or academic qualifications
- undertake additional checks on the potential investigator's suitability, including requesting contact details for referees
- identify any conflicts of interest or concerns about possible bias
- explore the potential investigator's ideas for managing the investigation
- clarify the support that may be required from the agency (including, for example, access to administrative support and/or legal advice)
- discuss the preliminary details of a contract, including a statement of requirements to define the services the investigator is expected to deliver, the standard to which they are to deliver it, and associated timelines
- it is important in having discussions of this sort that the agency does not divulge sensitive and/or confidential information
- establish the basis on which fees are payable, for example, capped costs, hourly rates etc.
The suggested discussion points above, on skills, experience, the suitability of the investigation methodology and costs, are likely to form the basis of the evaluation criteria for the procurement14.
A judgement needs to be made about the information that is able to be provided to potential contractor/s, given that no contract has been signed and any potential investigator is, therefore, not yet bound by contract provisions concerning confidentiality.
A general outline of the case, the potentially relevant aspects of the Code, an assessment of the complexity of the case, and the likely number of witnesses should serve as an adequate amount of information on which to approach potential contractors.
Generally, information provided about the case should not include any sensitive information, including personal information about the person under investigation or other parties. However, it will be necessary to check that a particular investigator does not have a conflict of interest in undertaking the work and the name of the person(s) under investigation will therefore need to be disclosed at some point.
Checking with referees is a critical part of evaluating the suitability of contractor/s and testing a potential investigator's claims regarding skills and capabilities before deciding to engage them.
A referee should be an individual with a good knowledge of the APS misconduct framework and in a position to answer questions on the outcomes of at least one or more previous investigations of suspected misconduct that the investigator has conducted.
Agencies may also wish to ask a potential investigator for a list of agencies for which they have conducted employment related investigations, including the contact details of the relevant contract managers. This enables the agency to choose who to contact as a referee. A potential investigator should be informed that the agency may approach any number of these agencies for references.
Attachment A to this guide contains a checklist of suggested questions to ask referees.
TipThe key to selecting a competent investigator and achieving a good outcome is:
- thorough referee checks
- clear terms of reference for the investigation (refer to section 11)
- sound contract management undertaken by a contract manager with a good understanding of the legislative framework, including the agency's procedural requirements for conducting a Code of Conduct investigation and, ideally, with experience in managing or investigating suspected misconduct.
Developing the contract
Once a decision has been made to engage a contractor to undertake a Code of Conduct investigation a contract needs to be developed. Advice on the form of the contract and its mandatory terms is usually available from each agency's procurement areas.
There should be a common understanding between the investigator and the agency about the services to be delivered that is apparent in the contract for services. This will include matters such as:
- the role of the investigator (for example, to make recommendations)
- the scope of the investigator's powers (for example, confined to the terms of reference for the investigation which cannot be amended without the agreement of the agency)
- the detail of what is to be included in any report to the agency
- the process that will be followed in gathering evidence and reaching a decision, including the processes mandated by the agency's misconduct procedures15
- the resources the agency will make available to assist the investigator
- depending on the nature of the case this could include access to the agency's electronic records, access to legal advice, access to agency subject matter experts, and administrative support
- if travel is required, the arrangements for paying for the travel or reimbursement of costs and at what rate
- how procedural issues will be managed, including, in particular, procedural fairness, privacy and confidentiality
- the agreed time, subject to any unforeseen circumstances, the investigation will take
- how the records generated by the contractor will be dealt with
- generally speaking the contract should provide that all records should be returned to the agency's custody at the completion of the contract with all copies deleted from the contractor's system
- the contractor may be permitted, however, to keep a de-identified and de-sensitized version of the work for their records
- a requirement in the contract that the investigator will deliver a report at a standard that satisfies the contract manager and to provide in the contract for the investigator to rework the report, at their own cost, if the contract manager is not satisfied with the standard of the draft report
- where a capped fee is not agreed, the estimated cost of the investigation and the circumstances and processes for approval of additional costs should the investigation require this
- the arrangements that exist for the investigators' professional indemnity insurance (for example, to cover the cost of defending their decision in court. If there is no professional indemnity insurance the contract may provide that the service provider will meet these costs).
Terms of reference for the investigation
The scope of the investigation, in effect its 'terms of reference', will need to settled and provided to the investigator before the investigation starts. The terms of reference should not be too broad or too narrow and must be clear. Different formulations can provide very different outcomes in terms of cost and time and therefore need careful consideration. For example, terms of reference that require an examination of 'Jane's behaviour towards Mary last week' is very different from an examination of 'Jane's behaviour towards Mary' and from 'Jane's behaviour towards Mary at a meeting on [date/time]'.
It is often helpful to provide the employee under investigation with a copy of the terms of reference for the investigation.
The contract should be formulated so that if fresh allegations emerge during the investigation revised terms of reference will need to be agreed with the agency.
Managing the performance of the investigator
As with any contracts, the performance of the contractor, including whether they are meeting the terms of the contract, needs to be managed. In the case of Code of Conduct investigations, the contract management role often falls to a human resource practitioner.
The contract manager should be a person with a good understanding of the legislative framework, including the agency's procedural requirements for conducting a Code of Conduct investigation, and ideally would themselves have experience in managing or investigating suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct.
In addition, the contract manager needs to be confident in:
- advising the investigator on the handling of the investigation (if the investigator is a decision maker care needs to be taken to ensure that any advice given maintains the independence and impartiality of the investigator)
- assessing the investigator's performance as the investigation progresses and taking action if there are concerns about the investigator's performance.
All contract managers should familiarise themselves with the Commission's guide Handling Misconduct: A human resources practitioner's guide to the reporting and handling of suspected and determined breaches of the APS Code of Conduct and other reference material listed in section 15 of the guide on Further information. Contract managers are also able to obtain advice about good practice in managing Code of Conduct investigations from the Commission's Ethics Advisory Service. The contact details for this service are also in section 15.
If the contract manager is inexperienced, and doubts arise about the contractor's management of the investigation or procedural issues arise during the investigation, they may need to access expert advice within the agency, for example from the agency's procurement/administrative areas.
Agencies may wish to consider building the following process stipulations into their contracts with external investigators to provide the contract manager with adequate capacity to guide the investigator.
- Sufficient details of the process to be followed to enable the contract manager to assess that the process the investigator intends to follow conforms with the agency's misconduct procedures (the amount of detail will vary according to the scope of an agency's misconduct procedures).
- The investigator to clear all key correspondence with the contract manager before dispatch, including, in particular, the notice prepared under the agency's misconduct procedures to advise the employee of the details of the suspected breach of the Code of Conduct.
- The investigator to report on progress to the contract manager at key milestones, and/or regular intervals, during the investigation.
- The investigator to advise the contract manager of any procedural or other issues that might delay or complicate the investigation. In certain circumstances, it may also be appropriate to require the investigator to clear the handling of these matters with the contract manager. These circumstances
- where there are fresh allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct that fall outside of the terms of reference
- where an employee raises medical issues
- where anyone associated with the process threatens to harm themselves or others.
- The investigator to clear any correspondence to the individual under investigation or witnesses with the contract manager where that correspondence concerns procedural issues, including complaints or concerns about the investigation raised by the individual under investigation and witnesses.
- The investigator to provide the contract manager with a draft report before it is submitted as a final report for procedural matters to be checked; however, care needs to be taken that the independence of the report is not compromised.
- In circumstances where the investigator is asked to determine breach and/or decide sanction, the investigator is to make themselves available to the agency (at their own cost) in the event that questions about the decision are raised on review by the Merit Protection Commissioner or the courts.
In addition, it may be helpful for the contract manager to review records of interview with the employee under investigation and witnesses as they are completed to check that they are sufficiently thorough and relevant to the matters under investigation.
Deliverables required from the investigator
The key deliverable from the investigation process is an investigation report which includes the investigator's findings (which, depending on the investigator's role, may be preliminary findings) and any recommendations. The documentary and other evidence that was relied upon by the investigator must be presented in support of the findings and recommendations in the report.
The report should be clearly written and follow a logical structure16. Where the investigator is performing a decision making role (rather than making recommendations to an agency breach decision maker) the report should:
- set out the details of the alleged misconduct and summarise how the concerns came to light
- set out the process followed in the investigation to collect evidence and information
- determine what facts need to be established in order for the decision maker to be able to make a decision (material questions of fact)
- present all the relevant evidence including, in particular, the employee's response to the allegations and to any new or conflicting evidence that was uncovered during the investigation
- set out the investigator's findings of fact and conclusions for each allegation (this may not be the case if the role is simply to make a recommendation to an agency breach decision maker)
- include details of the evidence that the investigator relied on to support findings of fact/conclusions
- include any matters that are disputed and set out the reasons for preferring one account over another
- note any other inconsistencies in the evidence or issues that remain unclarified
- identify any mitigating or aggravating circumstances identified during the investigation (this will be especially relevant if a sanction is to be determined)
- express a view on whether the Code of Conduct has been breached, and refer to the relevant element or elements of the Code in question
- set out reasons why the action or behaviour amounted to a breach of the element or elements of the Code17
Particular attention needs to be paid to the way the investigator presents the allegation of suspected misconduct in the notice of suspected misconduct and then again in the report.
In the course of a misconduct investigation it will be important to make findings of fact about the behaviours the person is alleged to have engaged in. For this reason the allegations should refer to specific behaviours on specific occasions. For example, it is not sufficient to state that the allegation is that the person has breached subsection 13(3) of the Code of Conduct without describing the behaviours that are of concern.
Nor should the allegations be presented as assertions about the individual's personality or character, for example, that he or she is an aggressive and angry individual. In the absence of examples of specific behaviour it is not possible to prove or disprove assertions about an individual.
Allegations should link specific behaviours, that the investigator is able to gather evidence about, to specific breaches of the Code of Conduct. For example, 'on [a named date and place, person X] by raising their voice, used threatening language towards a colleague and appeared to be angry and in doing so is alleged to have breached subsection 13(3) of the Code of Conduct.'
Investigator training programs
Knowing that an external investigator has attended a relevant training program can provide some reassurance of the skills of the investigator.
There are investigation skills training programs which could be useful and worth considering in evaluating a contractor's skills. These include competency based training in investigations (particularly with respect to fraud control)18 and training in investigations and administrative decision making offered by law firms.
For example, the Australian Government Solicitor offers a program titled How to run a Code of Conduct Investigation19 which focuses on the APS conduct framework. This course has been assessed by the Commission as appropriately covering the conduct framework and the responsibilities of investigators and decision makers and for this reason is endorsed. This endorsement does not cover the learning experience or the quality of the facilitator.
The Ethics Advisory Service within the Commission is available to all APS employees. This includes human resource practitioners and managers who are managing investigations of suspected misconduct, who wish to discuss and seek advice on ethical issues which occur in the workplace, and make sound decisions around these issues.
The Ethics Advisory Service may be contacted on 02 6202 3737 or by email at email@example.com.
The Commission has published a range of guidance on the APS Values, Employment Principles, and the Code of Conduct and related matters. These publications are available from the Commission's website http://www.aspc.gov.au.
Of particular relevance is20:
Handling Misconduct: a human resources practitioner's guide to the reporting and handling of suspected and determined breaches of the APS Code of Conduct21.
APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice: A guide to official conduct for APS employees and agency heads22.
From time to time the Commission also releases circulars and advices about specific aspects of reporting or managing suspected misconduct in the workplace. These are available from http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/circulars-and-advices
As mentioned throughout the guide, the Administrative Review Council has published better practice guides on administrative decision making which explain the elements of making sound and lawful administrative decisions. The guides are available at http://www.arc.ag.gov.au/Publications/Reports/Pages/OtherDocuments.aspx
Further information on contract management and the CPRs is available at the Finance procurement website http://www.finance.gov.au/procurement/index.html
The Finance website includes a number of tools that may assist agencies conduct streamlined procurement activities. This includes a standard contracting suite and procurement process map for low valued procurements.
The contact details of two agencies that have in place a panel for investigation services are as follows:
Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
Panel Name: Administrative Investigations and Review Services.
Contact ATO Helpline: 13 15 50
A request for details on the investigator panel arrangements will be escalated to the ATO Code of Conduct area.
Department of Agriculture
Panel Name: Investigation of Misconduct Allegations.
Contact Procurement Advice and Operations Team: Procurementhelpdesk@daff.gov.au
1 At the request of the agency head or the Prime Minister, the Public Service Commissioner may inquire into and determine whether an APS employee, or former employee, has breached the Code of Conduct in certain circumstances (paragraph 41(2)( n)) of the PS Act). Further information about this function will be included in the next edition of Handling Misconduct: a human resource practitioner's guide to the reporting and handling of suspected and determined breaches of the APS Code of Conduct. The Handling Misconduct guide is currently under review.
2 http://www.apsc.gov.au/aps-employment-policy-and-advice/aps-values-and-code-of-conduct/handling-misconduct - please note this guide is currently under review
4 Administrative decision makers, and those supporting them, are required to adhere to a fair decision making procedure. There are two primary rules of natural justice—the requirement to give a person affected by a decision a 'fair hearing' (the hearing rule) and the requirement that the decision maker is impartial (the bias rule).
6 See the Australian Public Service Commissioner's guidance on this matter in part 4 of the following guide http://www.apsc.gov.au/aps-employment-policy-and-advice/employment-framework/delegations
7 An understanding of the unfair dismissal and adverse actions provisions of the FW Act may be important, depending on the circumstances of any given case. Likewise, an understanding of anti-discrimination law may also be necessary. Training in administrative law is generally offered by law firms.
8 Consistent with the Administrative Review Council's Best Practice Guides, particularly those on 'Evidence, Facts and Findings' and 'Reasons'
9 http://www.finance.gov.au/procurement/procurement-policy-and-guidance/commonwealth-procurement-rules and http://www.finance.gov.au/procurement/procurement-policy-and-guidance/buying/accountability-and-transparency/ethics-and-probity/principles.html
14 Contact details for procurement information is available at: http://www.finance.gov.au/procurement/contact-us.html
15 Some agencies specify how parties are to be contacted.
16 Agencies are encouraged to refer to the Administrative Review Council Best Practice Guides on 'Evidence, Facts and Findings' and 'Reasons' for guidance on this element of administrative decision making.
18 The Department of the Attorney-General has information about fraud control and investigations training on its website and links to other sites that provide information on courses at: http://www.ag.gov.au/CrimeAndCorruption/FraudControl/Pages/default.aspx
20 These publications are currently being updated to take account of amendments to the PS Act but are still of relevance.
21 http://www.apsc.gov.au/aps-employment-policy-and-advice/aps-values-and-code-of-conduct/handling-misconduct - please note this guide is currently under review
Contacting referees to verify investigator credentials
Checking an investigator's credentials with referees is an important part of the process for choosing an investigator.
Questions to ask referees could include:
- Understanding of the legal and administrative decision making framework
- Did you have confidence in the investigator's understanding of the APS misconduct framework and associated administrative law framework?
- General abilities
- Did the employee under investigation challenge the investigator's approach? If so, how did the investigator handle it?
- Did you have confidence in the investigator's discretion and professionalism?
- Was the investigation timely and did it represent value for money?
Note: Agencies may have a misconduct matter that requires specialist skills or is particularly complex, for example a case with conflicting evidence and multiple witnesses. This will require more focused questioning of referees about the complexity of the matters the investigator has dealt with.
- Procedural matters
- Did the investigator understand the importance of, and comply with, your procedures for investigating suspected misconduct made under subsection 15(3) of the Act?
- Did any part of the investigation need to be redone because of a procedural concern with the investigator's approach?
- Did any problems arise concerning procedural fairness? How was this handled?
- Did the investigator provide a logical, well-reasoned report?
- Did you have confidence in the investigator's conclusions and recommendations?
- Did the investigator deliver the specified services to the required quality and timeliness?
- Was the process or outcome challenged, for example with an application to the Merit Protection Commissioner, Fair Work, courts or tribunals?
- What was the outcome of any challenges, including if the matter was settled out of court? Was the outcome or the decision to settle in any way reflective on the role of the investigator?