Corrupt NSW Education IT contractor jailed

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Corrupt NSW Education IT contractor jailed

ICAC investigation goes all the way to Long Bay.

The Sydney District Court has jailed a former NSW Education IT contractor convicted of abusing his position to cheat the agency out of $437,000.

David Johnson, who was contracted between November 2007 and April 2009 as an IT project manager for the then-Department of Education and Training, was the subject of an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption which was finalised in 2012.

The inquiry found Johnson acted corruptly by deceiving the agency into hiring contractors employed by his own company, and convincing it to engage another organisation which was paying him a kickback for the favour.

Johnson was originally engaged to manage the SMART2 (School Measurement and Assessment Reading Toolkit), and used this position of authority to hire another five workers employed by his own company Ogawie Limited.

ICAC found he was pocketing between $32.90 and $57.90 per hour for each of the contractors, and that he falsified timesheets for work never actually delivered to the department.

Johnson similarly convinced the department to engage Catalina IT - a provider not on the agency's preapproved panel - to work on another project in the knowledge he had arranged to receive a kick-back equivalent to 50 percent of the profits.

Last week the Sydney District Court upheld an appeal by the Department of Public Prosecutions to raise Johnson’s sentence to three years and three months, to be served at Long Bay Prison Hospital, with a non-parole period of one year and 11 months from January 2014.

Johnson originally pleaded guilty before the Sydney Local Court and was sentenced to 18 months home detention on 20 January 2014, but the DPP successfully challenged this verdict on the grounds that the sentence did not reflect the seriousness of his crimes.

In the wake of the ICAC investigation, the Commission directed the education department to tighten up its labour hire practices and take a more proactive approach to monitoring pay rates and the engagement of temporary workers.

Following a similar case at the University of Sydney, ICAC sent out an advisory to the entire NSW Government to be aware of the risks involved in delegating too much responsibility to contract personnel, especially in the IT space.

ICAC's Robert Waldersee told iTnews at the time a number of NSW bureaucrats said they felt vulnerable to exploitation because of the knowledge imbalance between them and the IT professionals they are in charge of hiring.

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