What is 'serious or systemic'?

The Commissioner has limited the reporting obligations of public officers, public authorities and inquiry agencies to those matters of misconduct and maladministration which are either serious or systemic.

Section 4(2) of the ICAC Act provides the following definition of serious or systemic.

Misconduct or maladministration will be taken to be serious or systemic if it ‘is of such a significant nature that it would undermine public confidence in the relevant public authority, or in public administration generally’ and has ‘significant implications for the relevant public authority or public administration generally (rather than just for the individual public officer concerned).’


In determining whether a matter might be serious or systemic, you would consider:

  • the type of conduct
  • the frequency of the conduct (did it occur once or does it occur regularly?)
  • the process by which the conduct occurred (did it require planning and were attempts made to conceal the conduct?)
  • the seniority of the person or persons who engaged in the conduct
  • the resulting harm to any persons, including physical, financial, emotional or reputational harm
  • the risk and damage to the agency or public administration

A matter may be considered seri​ous if it:

  • involves a senior public officer
  • involves alleged misconduct or maladministration that has resulted in a substantial loss or damage to assets
  • involves allegations that would, if proved, bring an agency or the Crown into disrepute or
  • is otherwise of particular prominence or importance.

A matter may be considered systemic if it:

  • causes widespread disruption to services or programs
  • affects a number of persons
  • is spread throughout an agency or authority, or is otherwise accepted or condoned or
  • involves a large sum of public money.

If you are still unsure of whether a matter is serious or systemic, then you might think it appropriate to report it.

What is serious or systemic? — video

View the transcript (PDF 180KB)

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