What is the PID scheme?
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) came into effect on 15 January 2014. The purpose of the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme is to provide an avenue for public officials to report suspected wrongdoing in the Australian public sector, while also offering protection to disclosers from reprisal action.
The scheme provides for employees (including former employees) of ACLEI and contracted service providers to ACLEI, to make a public interest disclosure of suspected wrongdoing relating to any public official, including related to ACLEI activities and officials. PIDs can be made both anonymously, or openly and can be both verbally or in writing, to an authorised officer in ACLEI. ACLEI has an obligation to assess the disclosure and decide whether to investigate the matter or not.
Who can make a disclosure?
A person must be a current or former ‘public official’. The definition of a public official under the PID Act includes:
- public servants and parliamentary service officers
- service providers under a Commonwealth contract
- Australian Federal Police appointees
- statutory office holders
- staff of Commonwealth companies
- individuals taken to be public officials in accordance with the PID Act.
A public official can disclose information they believe on reasonable grounds is ‘disclosable conduct’. This means any conduct by an agency, a public official or a contracted Commonwealth service provider (in connection with the Commonwealth contract) that tends to show wrongdoing:
- Within an Australian Government agency;
- By a public official, or
- By a Commonwealth contracted service provider.
Types of wrongdoing include:
- contravention of a law
- conduct that perverts the course of justice
- wastage of public funds
- conduct that is an abuse of public trust
- conduct that unreasonably endangers health and safety or endangers the environment
- misconduct relating to scientific research, analysis or advice
- maladministration, including conduct that is unjust, oppressive or negligent
- conduct that is an abuse of a public official's position
- conduct that, if proved, would result in disciplinary action against a public official.
Conduct that does not amount to disclosure conduct includes:
- the proper activities of intelligence agencies
- disagreements that relate only to government policy (and related expenditure)
- the actions of parliamentarians.
ACLEI has an obligation to assess the disclosure and decide whether to investigate the matter or not, there is a specific process to be followed in relation to corruption issues involving ACLEI staff (see how we deal with ACLEI corruption issues).
Where to report the conduct?
ACLEI has appointed 4 officers to manage public interest disclosures, in addition to the principal officer who is the Integrity Commissioner. PIDs can be made verbally to an authorised officer, or in writing. The contact information for making a PID is:
(02) 6141 2300
PID Authorised Officer
Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
GPO Box 605
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Public officials may also make a disclosure to their supervisor/manager, who must pass it to an authorised officer.
Further information on PIDs can be found on the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website: Information for Disclosers - Commonwealth Ombudsman.