An organisation misused public funds on gifts, alcohol, fines and funeral expenses

What happened when the public organisation used taxpayer money to purchase alcohol, flowers and pay off traffic fines for staff?

A public organisation used taxpayers’ money to pay for staff expenses with no legitimate business reason to do so.

On several occasions, public funds were used to purchase flowers for staff who were retiring or having a child, or when they were ill or there was a death in their family.

The organisation spent more than $30,000 on funeral expenses for staff who died in circumstances unrelated to their employment.

The organisation also paid traffic fines incurred by staff, rather than making the individual who was driving the work vehicle pay for the fine themselves.

One Director said it was part of the culture - that the employees’ union would ‘have a fit’ if they changed their practices.

In response to our recommendations, the organisation reviewed its policies and processes.

The Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy now specifies how much can be spent on gifts and prohibits paying for funeral-related expenses.

Credit card use throughout the year is also reviewed to detect any compliance issues and to identify where additional training or policy improvements are required.