Accountability & Integrity

Posted on May 10, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Most people understand the term ‘accountability’ to mean holding one responsible for ones actions.  Within a corporate or managerial context, ‘accountability’ is typically understood to mean a checkbox in a list of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) , the purpose of which is to justify the high salaries of most senior executives.  The perversion of this principle in such circles can enable such highly paid individuals to be rewarded for ‘accountability’ without ever really being held to account for the actions of their employees or indeed their own personal actions.

Take for example, health and safety issues within the CSIRO.  Every executive level employee has within their KPI’s a mandatory workplace health and safety component.

Given the woeful performance of CSIRO management in this aspect of their operation and the associated massive insurance premium hikes from Comcare (in the order of 4 times), how many senior executives have actually been held to account for their failures?

How many senior executives have been denied their annual performance bonus (at risk salary component in CSIRO terms) on the basis that they have failed to reasonably maintain a safe working environment or to adequately address complaints of this nature, in particular those relating to psychosocial factors within the workplace?

Was Dr Calum Drummond held to account for his part in the injury sustained by Mr Martin Williams?

Have any CSIRO executives been held to account for their part in the injuries of numerous other employees?

Will they be held to account in the future?

This is a fundamental flaw in the “Independent Investigation” announced by CSIRO earlier in the year, as not one of the terms of reference actually requires CSIRO to accept and be held to account for any outcome or determination published by the investigator

Unfortunately the problem of accountability within the CSIRO goes right to the very top, and we have seen far too many examples of the failure of senior executives to accept responsibility for their actions or to be held to account for their conduct.

Again the AAT matter of Williams and ComCare [2012] comes to mind.  CSIRO Chief Executive Officer, Dr Megan Clark admits there were absolutely no sanctions against 3 senior officers of the CSIRO, despite a finding by Deputy President J W Constance that they had made statements that were deliberately false, unreliable or purporting to be fact which they were forced to concede they had no basis for making.  Under CSIRO’s own code of conduct policy these three senior officers appear to have breached their obligations by failing:

  • Act ethically
  • Act with care and diligence
  • Treat everyone with respect and courtesy
  • Treat colleagues fairly, equitably and with due consideration
  • Perform their duties competently and with professionalism, honesty and integrity
  • Providing false or misleading information
  • Bully, victimise or discriminate against any staff member or CSIRO affiliate (assumedly harassment is OK as it is not specifically mentioned)
  • Behave in a way that intimidates, offends, degrades, insults or humiliates another person

Dr Clark has spectacularly failed in this matter by failing to:

  • Manage inappropriate behaviour and misconduct,

in failing to discipline CSIRO offices for the aforementioned breaches and in excusing their conduct as the result of faulty recollections irrespective of the injury done to Mr Williams which also constitutes a significant breach of the CSIRO’s model litigant obligations under the Legal Services Directions [2005].

Has the CSIRO Board of Directors sanctioned Dr Clark over her failure to discipline senior officers for breaches of CSIRO’s Code of Conduct and bringing the organisation into public disrepute?

Dr Clark has also not been forthcoming in providing a response to questions relating to the process undertaken by Dr Clark and CSIRO’s Acting General Counsel in determining this matter.  At the time of publishing CSIRO has still not responded to a number of Senate Questions On Notice relating to this and a number of other serious matter.

Why not?

Is it true that the Acting General Counsel who exonerated Calum Drummond and the other CSIRO staff held that “Acting” role for quite a brief period and was, in fact, appointed by Calum Drummond himself and directly reports to Calum Drummond?

Is this indicative of the CSIRO’s commitment to public transparency and accountability?

The public conduct of the CSIRO Chief Executive Officer, Dr Megan Clark and other Senior Executive Officers before the Senate Estimates (Economics) Committee and in a number of other public forums, appears to demonstrate the extent to which the CSIRO senior officers will go in order to avoid or deflect accountability for their actions.

For example, Dr Clark has been publicly rebutting suggestions for the past 2 or more years that there is a culture of bullying and other inappropriate behaviours within the CSIRO, yet in February 2013 announced out of the blue that she had commissioned an “independent” investigation into allegations of bullying and other misconduct, which as stated earlier on in this piece does not promote transparency as there is no obligation on the part of CSIRO to release the unedited results of the investigation and does not commit to any affirmative action in relation to those found guilty of misconduct.


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