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CASA Annual Report 2003 04 Part 3: Corporate report

Corporate report

Probity

Whistleblower protection

For a number of years CASA has run a confidential hotline, which has proved very effective in encouraging people in the industry to come forward with aviation safety concerns. CASA has now taken an important complementary step to detect illegal and improper conduct within its own organisation.

In May 2004 CASA established a protected disclosure policy. The policy responded to a request in the Minister’s November 2003 Charter Letter for CASA to develop an appropriate whistleblower scheme.

The protected disclosure policy lists various types of activities that may be reported, under the policy, including activities that are illegal, dishonest, fraudulent, corrupt, unethical, improper, unsafe or wasteful.

Under the policy, CASA will take all lawful steps to protect the identity of a whistleblower and will ensure they are not dismissed, demoted, harassed, victimised or discriminated against as a result of making a report in good faith.

A major feature of the new scheme is that disclosures of impropriety are made not to CASA, but to an independent organisation (STOPline), which has significant expertise in dealing with whistleblower disclosures.11 Under the arrangement, STOPline regularly monitors CASA’s actions in dealing with disclosures, and reports are provided to CASA’s Audit and Risk Committee.

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Code of conduct

All CASA staff must comply with a comprehensive code of conduct as a condition of their employment or engagement. An Interim Code of Conduct was developed in conjunction with CASA’s Certified Agreement for 2002–05 and is a schedule to that agreement.

CASA will revise the Code in conjunction with development of the new Certified Agreement to ensure that it fully reflects the values and behaviour emphasised in the Minister’s Charter Letter of November 2003.

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Conflict of interest

As a sole director, CASA’s CEO is required to disclose ‘material personal interests’ to the Minister. Bruce Byron submitted a declaration to the Minister on 20 May 2004.

Mr Byron took the additional step of removing himself for a period of three months from any decision making relating to a major airline operator with which he had worked immediately before taking up his appointment. He also routinely declares at each monthly CEO meeting any issues that could have the potential to create a conflict of interest or be perceived as a conflict of interest.

As a regulatory authority, CASA takes particular care to guard against actual, potential and perceived conflicts of interest in respect of all staff. There is a considerable interchange of personnel between CASA and the industry which, though highly beneficial to aviation safety, may give rise to conflicts of interest in particular regulatory matters. Conflicts of interest may also arise through significant shareholdings or family connections.

CASA has a well-established policy, which sets out guiding principles for the consistent handling of conflict of interest issues in accordance with CASA’s code of conduct, and procedures for declaring such conflicts. The policy applies to all personnel engaged by CASA as permanent and temporary employees, contractors, consultants and agency staff.

Permanent and temporary employees, and agency staff complete a Conflict of Interest Declaration Form on commencement with CASA. Staff receive an annual reminder of their obligations, including updating their Declaration. With consultants and contractors, CASA’s standard form contract of engagement imposes the obligation to declare any actual or potential conflict of interest that may arise through the life of the contract. Senior managers are responsible for resolving conflict of interest issues to ensure CASA’s regulatory activities are not compromised. The approach is usually to rearrange regulatory duties or responsibilities.

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Fraud control

In accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2002, CASA has undertaken a fraud risk assessment and prepared a fraud control plan. Appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting procedures are place and annual fraud control data has been collected and reported as required.

During the year CASA initiated an internal audit of its fraud control arrangements, including benchmarking CASA against the results of the Australian National Audit Office’s ‘Survey of Fraud Control Arrangements Australian Public Service’. The report will be available in 2004–05.

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