Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bullying in DET

From ABC online 
(Also read more at the Age website: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/up-to-90-million-deficit-in-napolis-branch-of-education-department-ibac-told-20150518-gh43tn.html )

IBAC heard today about bullying at Victoria's Education Department, with senior executives claiming expensive lunches and dinners that broke the rules, a corruption inquiry has heard.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is currently investigating corrupt spending within the department.

Gail Hart, who oversaw purchasing processes in the department from 2001 to 2010, gave the inquiry details of constant clashes with her boss, Jeff Rosewarne, over contracts and tenders.

She said one contract being pushed by Mr Rosewarne was with technology firm Oracle to roll out IT programs in schools across the state.

She objected to Oracle's proposal which included $1 million of 'in-kind' services, including labour.

Ms Hart told the commission she had not experienced anything like it in her 32-year career.

"I have never known a company to offer $1 million in kind," she said.

She told the commission it would be inappropriate because it would have given Oracle an unfair advantage in future contracts.

The project later became known as Ultranet, which has since been abandoned by the department because of a amongst other things, massive cost blowouts.

Ms Hart also spoke of excessive personal expense claims submitted by Mr Rosewarne and other senior executives for inappropriate spending, including expensive lunches and dinners for staff involving alcohol which broke department rules.

There were people in senior roles across the organisation who flouted the rules.
Gail Hart, Former Education Department employee
"There were people in senior roles across the organisation who flouted the rules," Ms Hart told the commission.

She testified that Darrell Fraser, a senior executive, was asked to repay expenses for 15 to 20 expensive lunches and dinners.

Ms Hart said one claim in particular stood out, when Mr Fraser claimed expenses for a lunch in 2005 with then education minister Lynne Kosky and her family in direct contravention of department rules.

Ms Hart told the commission that in 2003, Mr Rosewarne accused her of being too strict and too pedantic in dealing with purchase requests and asked her to be more flexible in approving purchases.

"As time went on he became more powerful... it became more evident that he could do whatever he wanted," she said.

Mr Rosewarne left the department in 2011 and recently resigned from the Catholic Education Office.

When Ms Hart took over the oversight role in 2001 she replaced Nino Napoli, who was sacked from the department in April after IBAC revealed his role in allegedly setting up so-called banker schools which siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars.

She was moved out of that role by Mr Rosewarne in 2009 and she retired in 2013.

Executive charged home furniture as school printing services

Two other witnesses gave evidence about the lengths Mr Rosewarne went to hide transactions worth tens of thousands of dollars through false invoices and hidden payments.

Small businessman Richard Bell told the IBAC hearings that he had supplied office furniture to Mr Rosewarne's home, but sent an invoice for printing services worth almost $5,000 to Moonee Ponds West Primary School.

Peter Foley of Caravan Music told the commission he was paid more than $13,500 for putting on Christmas parties for Mr Rosewarne in 2008 and 2009 at the Oakleigh Bowling Club.
He sent invoices to two separate primary schools for "event for management services".

After he was paid in 2009 he told the commission he then forwarded $2,100 to Mr Rosewarne's wife, Anne, for catering.

The commission also heard details of how the banker schools worked via Vincent Virtue, the former principal of Parkwood Secondary School and Norwood Secondary School.
Both schools were used by Mr Napoli to make payments to businesses run by members of his family.

Ex Regional Director Vin Virtue gives evidence

The commission revealed evidence that during his time at Norwood Secondary School, from January 2007 to when he retired in March 2014, Mr Virtue approved payments worth almost $61,000 based on false invoices for printing, video presentations, administrative staff and other services that were never provided to his school.

The companies supplying the invoices were run by relatives of Mr Napoli.

Mr Virtue was asked why Mr Napoli followed him when he moved from Parkwood to Norwood in 2007.

"My only explanation is that at the time I understood why he (Nino Napoli) was making the payments through the school," he said.

"You were compliant and not asking any questions," counsel assisting Ian Hill, QC, said to Mr Virtue.

"I don't know," Mr Virtue replied.

The commission expects to hear evidence from Mr Napoli sometime in the coming weeks.

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