Australian Institute of Criminology

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Each year, Commonwealth entities are asked to complete an online questionnaire, which asks about their experience of fraud incidents and how they managed and responded to risks of fraud taking place.

Under the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines (AGD 2011: 7), fraud against the Commonwealth was defined as ‘dishonestly obtaining a benefit, or causing a loss, by deception or other means’. For present purposes, the AIC asked entities to describe all suspected incidents of fraud against the Commonwealth alleged against those employed by government entities, including staff and contractors (internal fraud) and also alleged against those who do not work for the government but who may be seeking to claim government benefits or to obtain some other financial advantage dishonestly (external fraud).

Information was provided by 154 respondents in 2010–11, 157 in 2011–12 and 163 in 2012–13 (see Table 20). Each year over 80 percent of those invited to participate responded to the census, with the response rate increasing annually. A small number failed to complete the questionnaire resulting in slightly smaller numbers being subject to analysis. Most respondents were governed by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth), as opposed to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (Cth).

Table 20 Participating entities
2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
N % N % N %
Invited to participate 192 100 191 100 195 100
Responded 154 80.2 157 82.2 163 83.6
Included in analysis 154 80.2 155 81.2 162 83.1
-FMA Act entities 94 48.9 97 50.8 100 61.7
-CAC Act entities 60 31.2 58 30.4 62 38.3

Source: Commonwealth fraud surveys 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13 [AIC computer file]

Changes in the number of respondents over the three years are due to the introduction of new compliance requirements and to changes in the number of entities present in the Commonwealth Public Service.

Respondents were asked to provide information by completing a secure, online questionnaire, which recorded results anonymously (without naming individual entities), as the aim was to canvass the experience of fraud across the government as a whole, rather than by identifying what each individual entity had experienced. In light of the revisions of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines and following extensive consultation with large Commonwealth entities, the Institute implemented some changes to the survey instrument in 2011. The changes were designed to improve the survey’s clarity and to remove problematic aspects that entities had identified in order to form a more comprehensive picture of the fraud incidents experienced by entities.

Further information on the investigation and prosecution of fraud incidents within the Commonwealth was also provided by the AFP and the CDPP for matters handled within each year (regardless of when they were committed).