The VI’s broad remit requires oversight of 13 integrity, accountability and investigatory bodies. Since 1 December 2021, this includes the OSI. 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. Our education activities support compliance across the integrity system.
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 describes:
Notifications and complaints
These contain key information and intelligence. All complaints are responded to, with written reasons. Notifications are triaged and reviewed using a risk based approach and as resources allow.
The VI must investigate disclosures that are determined to be public interest complaints under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (PID Act). The VI may also investigate complaints and undertake own motion investigations.
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.
Our Integrity Responses to identified non-compliance 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.
In practice, the Operations Model underpins our internal operational governance structures. Through our Integrity Operations Management Committee (IOMC), operational decision making is consistent, fully informed by risk assessments and legal advice, and properly documented. The IOMC structure ensures that decisions to initiate new work are carefully considered, and that progress on existing work is monitored for resource short-falls or delays.
1. Mandatory functions
These functions are mandated by legislation and will continue to receive priority in 2022-23:
- Inspections and related reporting obligations
- Public interest disclosure assessments and notifications to IBAC
- Public interest complaint investigations under the PID Act.
The VI’s complaint function has increased in volume and complexity, compounding a backlog caused by COVID-19 restrictions and the VI’s broader jurisdiction under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012. Our performance measure to give all complainants written reasons for outcomes contributes to the time required to conduct a complaint assessment.
In 2022-23, we will focus on improving response times for complaints. We have a new performance measure to acknowledge receipt of new complaints within five business days. Utilising the increase in ongoing funds to the VI from the May 2022 budget, and an expanded complaints team, we will deliver a Service Charter for complaints, supported by a new complaints framework based on best practice principles in accordance with expert advice.
3. Coercive power notifications
Reviewing coercive power notifications from oversighted agencies will be the key monitoring activity. The VI commonly receives around 1000 notifications per annum. The VI’s notification oversight model is tailored for each agency, to identify risks specific to each agency.
To the extent that resources allow, any public IBAC hearings will be carefully monitored as there are inherent risks associated with public hearings, including risks to witness welfare.
The VI’s successful oversight model for the WIV, which commenced exercising coercive powers in 2021-22, will be adopted for the OSI, the latest agency to be oversighted by the VI. The VI will review the majority of notifications from WIV and OSI as 2022-23 will only be their second year with these coercive powers.
The VI will identify systemic and thematic issues in notifications and share the learnings from one agency across other agencies as appropriate and as resources allow.
The VI will deliver at least two educational activities and produce tools and materials in accordance with our new educational performance measure. To the extent possible within its resources, the VI will engage with and tailor information for members of the LGBTIQ+ community and other vulnerable complainants, and lawyers representing clients involved in integrity agency investigations.
Activities will include presentations and website publications.
5. Investigations and monitoring
Significant monitoring projects are resource intensive and the VI is now resourced to complete a monitoring project during 2022-23 relating to coercive power notifications. The VI will also continue to identify issues during inspections, complaint assessments, notifications, preliminary inquiries and investigations. The VI will apply its Integrity Response Guidelines to identify an appropriate response that prevents recurrence.
Any remaining resources will be directed within a risk based model to investigations and monitoring activities responding to issues that arise during 2022-23 or remain unresolved from 2021-22.
Statistics on the VI’s input and output across each legislative function are published in our Annual Reports.
Corporate / Governance priorities
In 2022-23, the VI will leverage support where possible through an MOU with DJCS for the delivery of a range of corporate functions (eg. finance, payroll, HR advice) as the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) will no longer be supporting the VI. Preparation for and transition into DJCS has required time and resourcing from the VI’s small corporate team across the last quarter of 2021–22 financial year. This, along with the independent performance audit, have impacted the VI’s delivery of the ICT roadmap and new records management system. The new arrangement with DJCS commences from 1 July 2022 and there will be a further period of transition across the first quarter as the VI embeds the new way of working. The VI will also continue to manage secure ICT and business facilities.
Within the capability of our size and footprint, the VI will support the delivery of governance compliance requirements including the Financial Management Compliance Framework, the Victorian Protective Data Security Standards as well as the audit and risk management requirements.
The VI will work towards new strategic priorities and continue to focus on supporting staff engagement to maintain our strong People Matter Survey (PMS) results from 2018–19, 2019–20 and 2020–21. The PMS supports public sector organisations to build positive workplace cultures with integrity that live the public sector values.
In addition to core business corporate functions, the following priorities will support operational activities throughout 2022-23:
1. Performance audit
An independent performance audit of the VI commenced in February 2022 and is due to be completed by August 2022 on behalf of the IOC. Any recommendations will be carefully considered within the VI’s footprint.
2. ICT systems
The VI completed most of its comprehensive capital program in 2021–22, replacing end of life and specialised ICT infrastructure. Due to the VI moving from DPC to DJCS for its corporate support, the VI’s new records management system will be implemented under the DJCS platform in 2022–23.
The VI is also scheduled to complete implementation of stage 1 of the document review system and commence implementation of stage 2 to drive operational efficiency. This project has been complicated by the VI’s security requirements and the transition to DJCS corporate support.
3. ICT Strategy and roadmap
During 2021-22, the VI appointed a consultant to commence a comprehensive project to identify the future state of the VI’s ICT systems and structures to ensure they:
- align with and support the VI’s future strategic vision and objectives
- are managed efficiently, effectively and economically
- are complemented by a long-term infrastructure replacement strategy that is well paced, evidence based and leverages off new and emerging technologies
- continue to comprehensively meet our ongoing information management and security needs.
This project will be completed in 2022–23, with implementation of recommendations commencing as quickly as possible within available resources to help drive operational efficiency.