vicinspectorate.vic.gov.au

Operational functions and priorities

The VI has a broad range of legislative functions across 12 integrity, accountability and investigatory bodies, including, from 1 July 2021, oversight of the Wage Inspectorate Victoria. Our key functions table (Attachment 1) details our oversight responsibility for each body.

Our functions include inspections, public interest disclosures, investigations, complaints and monitoring activities.

Whilst we have discretion in exercising our monitoring function, the following functions are mandatory:

  • Inspections and related reporting obligations
  • Public interest disclosure assessments and notifications to IBAC
  • Public interest complaint investigations.

The VI must also respond to all complaints.

In 2021–22, we will give priority to our mandatory functions and to complaints. Priority will also be given to monitoring the exercise of coercive powers through reviewing coercive power notifications. Remaining resources will be used for monitoring, investigative and educative activities within a risk based model.

Statistics on the VI’s input and output across each legislative function are published in
the Annual Reports.

Operational Priority One – Mandatory functions

Inspections

In accordance with legislative timeframes, the VI will inspect records and report to Parliament and relevant Ministers on controlled operations and the use of surveillance devices by the following bodies:

  • Independent Broad-based Anticorruption Commission (IBAC)
  • Victoria Police
  • Game Management Authority
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)

The VI will inspect records and report to relevant Ministers on IBAC’s telephone intercepts and Victoria Police’s telephone intercepts and to Parliament on Victoria Police’s use of counter-terrorism powers.

The VI will design an inspections methodology for powers not yet exercised by Victoria Police under the Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 but in respect of which the VI has legislative functions.

For parts of 2019–20 and 2020–21, the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures)
(Integrity Entities) Regulations 2020 permitted a modified inspection program.

The VI now uses a sampling methodology for inspections, within a risk framework,
which has helped with clearing the backlog of inspections.

Assessing Public Interest Disclosures

The VI has a broad jurisdiction under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (PID
Act), including the mandatory receipt, assessment and notification of public interest disclosures.

To ensure we identify all assessable disclosures, we will undertake a preliminary assessment of all complaints against the requirements of the PID Act.

If a complaint is an assessable disclosure about IBAC, an IBAC officer or a Public Interest Monitor (PIM), we will determine whether the disclosure is a public interest
complaint under the PID Act. All other assessable disclosures will be notified to IBAC under the PID Act.

Investigating Public Interest Complaints

The VI has a mandatory function under the Victorian Inspectorate Act 2011 (VI Act) to investigate all public interest complaints in our jurisdiction, namely:

Disclosures about a PIM, IBAC or an IBAC officer that we determine are public interest complaints; and

All public interest complaints referred to us by IBAC.

As at June 2021, the VI was undertaking four investigations under the PID Act.

The VI anticipates concluding these investigations during 2021–22. Any new public interest complaints received during 2021/22 will also be investigated, as per the mandatory legislative requirement.

Operational Priority Two – Complaints and coercive power notifications

Complaints

The VI can receive complaints about:

  • IBAC and IBAC personnel
  • Victorian Ombudsman (VO) officers
  • Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) officers
  • Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) officers
  • Chief Examiner or Examiners.

The VI will give priority to complaints. We have a statutory function to receive complaints and must properly consider and respond to every complaint. We have a performance measure to give written reasons for outcomes to 100% of complainants.

The VI’s assessment of a complaint may result in:

  • A PID Act notification or another form of referral to a body with the appropriate jurisdiction
  • Engagement with the body to discuss identified issues or risks
  • Feedback to the body on how it handled the complainant’s matter
  • An Integrity Response, including other planned oversight projects
  • A preliminary inquiry or an investigation.

The VI will continue to work through the backlog of complaints caused by COVID-19
restrictions. To mitigate the impact of delays, the VI will direct increased resources towards complaints and keep communicating with complainants to ensure they are kept up to date on the progress of their complaint.

The VI can investigate a complaint and also initiate own motion investigations. The VI can conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not to investigate and will typically request information from a body or individuals.

The VI will only commence a preliminary inquiry or an investigation where it is appropriate and if it has sufficient resources.

Monitoring the exercise of coercive powers

The VI has a legislative requirement to monitor the exercise of coercive powers by:

  • IBAC
  • VO
  • OVIC
  • VAGO
  • Chief Examiner or Examiners
  • Judicial Commission of Victoria
  • Wage Inspectorate Victoria (WIV)

These bodies are required to notify the VI when they exercise coercive powers and the VI has a discretion to review the notifications. Since 1 January 2020, each time the VI exercises that discretion we are required to assess a number of criteria that increase the time taken for each review.

The VI commonly receives around 1000 notifications per annum. This number is likely to increase in 2021–22 as we start oversighting the exercise of coercive powers by the WIV and its officers.

During 2020–21, the VI designed a model to oversight the exercise of coercive powers
by the WIV and its officers. In 2021–22, the VI will focus resources on implementing this
model and reviewing notifications, as the WIV will be able to exercise new coercive powers for the first time in 2021–22.

The VI will continue to monitor the agencies that infrequently exercise coercive powers
through self-reporting questionnaires covering relevant legislative requirements, and a review of their notifications (if any).

To help drive efficiency and identify systemic issues in notifications, the VI piloted an integrity program in 2020–21 in which allocated officers undertook risk assessments and reviews of a particular integrity body’s notifications. This successful program will continue in 2021–22, enhanced by regular meetings of reviewers and managers to help identify thematic issues across entities.

If resources allow, the VI will undertake all or parts of the integrity program referred to in section 6.

Operational Priority Three – Other monitoring and review functions

The VI has further legislative requirements to monitor:

  • IBAC’s compliance with the Independent Broad-based Anticorruption Commission Act 2011 and other laws, and its interaction with other bodies
  • VAGO’s compliance with certain provisions of the Audit Act 1994
  • VO and OVIC’s compliance with procedural fairness
  • Chief Examiner and Victoria Police’s compliance with the Major Crime (Investigative Powers) Act 2004.

The VI also has legislative requirements to:

  • Assess the effectiveness and appropriateness of IBAC’s policies and procedures
  • Oversee IBAC’s performance of its PID Act functions
  • Review IBAC, VO and the Judicial Commission’s PID procedures.

Significant monitoring projects are resource intensive and the VI has not been resourced
to undertake monitoring projects since its completion of longstanding projects in 2018–19. During 2019–20 and 2020–21, the VI identified issues during inspections, complaint assessments, notifications, preliminary inquiries and investigations.

The Integrity Response Guidelines were a useful barometer to identify an appropriate response by the VI to ensure proportionate steps were taken by the integrity body to prevent recurrence.

With increased staffing numbers in 2021–22, the VI plans to undertake a monitoring project in the second half of the year. The subject matter of the project will be chosen according to risk, following consultation with relevant stakeholders about their
progress and intention to address the particular subject matter of concern to the VI. Consultation ensures significant resources are not directed to identifying the extent of an issue within an integrity body where the integrity body has a sufficient mitigation strategy to address the issue.

See section 6 for the types of monitoring projects that are resource dependent. Before commencing any monitoring projects, the VI will give priority to mitigating complaint delays caused by COVID-19 and completing investigations.

Operational framework and governance

The VI’s Operations Model (Attachment 2) is a conceptual framework for our
approach to conducting this broad range of operational functions.

The Operations Model represents:

  • The source and use of information – notifications and complaints – these are received as key information and intelligence.

The VI will assess, review and respond to all complaints. Occasionally, a complaint may lead to a preliminary inquiry and/or an investigation.

The VI will triage coercive power notifications, identifying suitable matters for a full review within the context of a planned Integrity Program.

Investigative activities – Investigative activity is proportionate and purposive: our preliminary inquiries, investigations and inquiries are directed toward effective Integrity Responses.

The VI will continue to prioritise public interest complaint investigations as they are mandatory. Any other investigations will be resource dependent and are likely to start
with a preliminary inquiry.

Compliance activities – Integrity Programs and Monitoring Projects – Integrity Programs are regular, ongoing oversight activities that deliver recurrent outputs, such as the VI’s inspections activities and monitoring of coercive powers. By contrast, monitoring projects
are strategically targeted and involve finite activities with well-defined objectives.

The number of risk based reviews of coercive power notifications will continue to increase, within a planned Integrity Program.

The VI anticipates delivering a proactive monitoring project if resources allow.

Integrity Responses – Our Integrity

Responses to identified noncompliance and other issues include liaison and engagement, education, recommendations and reports. We may also decide to conduct a more in depth oversight activity, like a monitoring project. We focus on productive, influential “Integrity Responses” that support our vision of improving Victoria’s integrity system.

The VI anticipates publishing education resources relating to previously identified issues (see section 6 for a description of the planned guidance notes).

In practice, the Operations Model underpins our internal operational governance structures. Through our Integrity Operations Management Committee (IOMC), operational decision-making is consistent, informed by risk assessments and legal advice, and properly documented.

Importantly, the IOMC structure ensures that decisions to initiate new work are
carefully considered, and that progress on existing work is monitored for resource shortfalls or delays.

Corporate/governance priorities

Core business

The small corporate services unit at the VI will continue to lead the delivery of all standard corporate functions with limited support acquired from the Department of Premier and Cabinet (eg. finance, payroll, HR advice). This unit, with only 1 ongoing FTE and 2.8 fixed term FTE, is mostly resourced with project funding and has responsibility for all corporate and governance functions including budget independence, human resources, financial
planning and compliance, procurement, business facilities, asset management, security and ICT management, information and records management, internal audit and risk management.

Within the capability of our size and footprint, the VI will also support the delivery of governance compliance requirements including the Financial Management Compliance Framework, the Victorian Protective Data Security Standards as well as audit and risk management requirements.

An important focus for the unit is supporting staff engagement to maintain our strong People Matter Survey results from 2019–20 and 2020–21. The People Matter Surveys
support public sector organisations in building positive workplace cultures with integrity that live the public sector values.

In addition to core business corporate functions, there are several key priorities
to deliver in 2021-22 that will support operational activities. The VI will undertake
these projects primarily with resources provided through non-recurrent funding.

Corporate Priority One – Key infrastructure projects

Having made significant progress during 2020-21 on the VI’s comprehensive capital
program, which includes replacing end of life and specialised ICT infrastructure, the VI is scheduled in 2021-22 to complete the four remaining key infrastructure projects:

  1. upgrade the VI’s security alarm system
  2. upgrade the VI’s telephony system
  3. new records management system
  4. pilot a document review system.

Corporate Priority Two – Budget Independence

In response to the independent base review conducted during 2020-21, the
VI will seek appropriate ongoing budget funding to support its expanded remit since
establishment and its status as a budgetary independent agency with complex security needs. This will result in the VI being appropriately resourced to undertake its important operational functions and comply with Victorian governance frameworks.

Corporate Priority Three – Performance Audit

As foreshadowed in the Inspector’s foreword, an independent performance audit of the VI is expected to commence in October 2021 and be completed by March 2022 on behalf of the IOC.

The performance audit will require a considerable portion of the VI’s resources which will be a diversion from the performance of the VI’s usual operational and corporate functions.

Corporate Priority Four – Strategic Plan

With the VI’s three-year strategic plan coming to an end on 31 December 2021, the VI will establish a new strategic plan during 2021–22 that reflects its maturity level and current challenges.

Corporate Priority Five – ICT Strategy & Roadmap

During 2021-22, the VI will undertake a comprehensive project to identify the future state of the VI’s ICT systems and structures to ensure that:

  • they align with and support the VI’s future strategic vision and objectives
  • they are managed efficiently, effectively and economically
  • the VI develops a long-term infrastructure replacement strategy that is well paced, evidence based and leverages off new and emerging technologies
  • the VI’s ongoing information management and security needs continue to be comprehensively met.

Reviewed 13 July 2021

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