Page Heading: Public Interest Disclsoures

A scheme to encourage public officials to report suspected wrongdoing in the Australian public sector was put in place by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act), which came into effect on 15 January 2014.

All Australian Government agencies, Commonwealth companies and public authorities have responsibilities under the Act. These include establishing effective and clearly articulated internal procedures for facilitating and responding to public interest disclosures.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is responsible for promoting awareness and understanding of the PID Act, and monitoring and reporting on its operation to parliament. We provide general information, guidance to agencies about their management of the PID scheme, and advice to people who are thinking about making a disclosure of wrongdoing.


Legislation

Guides

Aimed at facilitating consistent application of the legislation across the public sector, the guides and information sheets explain the PID system, set out the statutory obligations of agencies and suggest best practice for handling both allocation and investigation of public interest disclosures.

Information sheets

Forms for agencies

PID legislation requires that agencies notify the Ombudsman of an allocation of a disclosure, or of a decision not to investigate a disclosure. Where necessary, agencies are also obliged to request an extension of time to carry out a PID investigation. Forms are provided to facilitate these notifications and requests:

Use of the Ombudsman's PID logo

To expedite access to agencies' PID policies and procedures, a universal, easily identifiable PID scheme logo has been designed for use on internal and external websites. For agencies wishing to download and use the logo, the graphics are available in various formats:

Making a public interest disclosure to the Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is able to receive public interest disclosures (PIDs) about both the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman and, under certain conditions, about other Australian Government agencies. For effective handling of PIDs made to the Ombudsman, it is important to identify as early as possible whether the disclosure is about the Ombudsman's office or another agency.

Public officials wishing to make a PID about the Ombudsman's office should follow the process outlined at Public Interest Disclosures About Us.

While suspected wrongdoings should generally be disclosed to authorised officers (or through the discloser's supervisor) within the agency concerned, a PID about another agency may be made directly to the Ombudsman - or to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) where a matter involves an intelligence agency. A public official wanting to make such a disclosure needs to demonstrate, on reasonable grounds, that it would be appropriate for their information to be investigated by the Ombudsman. Disclosures to the Ombudsman may be made by:

  • Writing to the Commonwealth Ombudsman PID Team at GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601. Any envelopes or packaging should be marked 'Confidential'Agency PID'; or
  • Emailing the Ombudsman at PID@ombudsman.gov.au. The subject line should indicate which agency the disclosure is about - this could be as simple as 'PID about Department of XYZ'; or
  • Telephoning the Ombudsman's office on 02 6276 3777 and following the relevant prompts.

Presentations

By arrangement with individual or groups of agencies, this office conducts information sessions about the PID Act. These sessions generally cover the main features of the PID scheme and the responsibilities of agencies under the Act, and can be tailored to the needs of the particular audience.

Upcoming events

PID Community of practice roundtable - Sydney

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman will be hosting our first community of practice roundtable about the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme on 21 August 2014 in Sydney.

Date Thursday 21 August 2014
Time 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Duration 2 hours
Cost Free
Venue Australian Public Service Commission, Level 22, 580 George Street, Sydney
To register RSVP by close of business 19 August 2014 to PID@ombudsman.gov.au

Community of Practice Roundtables

Canberra, 3 and 4 September 2014

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman is holding a series of Canberra based community of practice roundtable meetings about the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme. The meetings will be convened by Mr George Masri, Senior Assistant Ombudsman.

Mr Masri will make some observations about the operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme and reflect on the first six months of its operation. Roundtable participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences in implementing the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, and discuss and learn from each other about successes and challenges in the handling of disclosures.

We have scheduled two meetings in our Canberra office at this stage, and will offer more if there is sufficient demand.

Preference will be given to those agencies who are not already part of one of the existing PID Communities of Practice that have been set up by some of the larger Commonwealth Departments.

Date Wednesday 3 September 2014
Time 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Date Thursday 4 September 2014
Time 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Duration 2 hours
Cost Free
Venue Commonwealth Ombudsman, Level 5, Childers Square, 14 Childers Street, Canberra City ACT
To register RSVP by close of business Tuesday 2 September 2014 to PID@ombudsman.gov.au

Please specify your preferred session date and time, and nominate any topics or issues of interest that you would like covered during the session.

The Ombudsman's office will be holding community of practice roundtables in other capital cities. Details will be published on the Ombudsman's website http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/pages/pid/ as these are arranged.

We are also interested to hear from agencies who may be interested to host a roundtable in other ACT locations (eg Woden or Tuggeranong).


George Masri is Senior Assistant Ombudsman and head of the Public Interest Disclosure, Social Services and Indigenous Branch of the Commonwealth Ombudsman's office. Mr Masri has worked with the Ombudsman's office since 2005 where he has had responsibility for a range of portfolio areas including immigration, social support, Indigenous and overseas students.

Mr Masri has a varied background in public administration, including as a senior business consultant for a company developing automated systems to assist with administrative decision making, a ministerial adviser in three different Commonwealth portfolios, a principal solicitor in community legal centres and as an associate to a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Mr Masri is a longstanding council member of the ACT Division of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA). He is presently the chair of IPAA's corporate governance committee.

Further events

The Ombudsman's office will be holding community of practice roundtables in other capital cities. Details will be published on the Ombudsman's website http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/pages/pid/ closer to the date.

Contact details

For further information or assistance relating to the PID scheme, or to arrange a PID presentation, please contact the PID Team on 02 6276 3777 or email PID@ombudsman.gov.au.