Councils at risk of rorting

A CORRUPTION report on local government has criticised Cockburn city council for not doing enough to address the risk of rorting.

The Corruption and Crime Commission investigated procurement risks across WA’s local governments and found a “systemic weakness” that made councils vulnerable to rorting from employees, suppliers and contractors.

The report was based on a procurement audit of five of the largest local government purchasers in WA, including Cockburn.

WA local government minister Tony Simpson describes the report as a “wake-up call” and backs its recommendation the auditor-general’s powers be extended to cover WA’s 140 councils.

“In the commission’s view the absence of risk assessments suggests that the cities had an increased level of exposure to misconduct risk and that, if misconduct occurred, there was an increased probability that it would go undetected,” the report stated.

“In the commission’s view the lack of risk assessments for misconduct in procurement is a significant issue for the local government sector.”

The CCC revealed “some” of the audited councils need to improve financial governance, including tendering procedures, how they deal with conflicts of interest and training.

Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett says his council volunteered to take part and he welcomes the findings.

“Since the report we have tightened up several of our procedures and employed a new staff member to help with this,” he says.

“The report was a bit vague and should have identified what individual councils failed on what specific points, as I thought we came out of it really well.

“But apart from that, we welcome its findings and have already implemented several of its recommendations.”

Last month, premier Colin Barnett claimed most corruption in WA involved councils.

Other councils audited were Joondalup, Perth, Swan and Wanneroo.

Melville, which is about the same size as Cockburn, was not audited.


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