Who can make a PID
A public interest disclosure (PID) can only be made by a current NSW public official – broadly, anyone who is employed by – or otherwise in the service of – a public authority.
If the reporter is not a public official at the time of making the disclosure, the report cannot be a PID. If the public official makes the disclosure while a public official, but then ceases to be a public official, the disclosure remains protected. There is one exception — a former public official can report allegations of reprisal. For more information, see Protections when making a PID.
Definitions of public officials and public authorities
Broadly, a public official is anyone who is employed or otherwise in the service of a public authority. Examples of public officials include:
- permanent employees – full-time or part-time
- temporary or casual employees
- individual contractors
- employees of contractors providing services to and on behalf of a public authority, including employees of managed correctional centres
- some volunteers (not including students and interns) – including members of the Rural Fire Service (RFS), State Emergency Service (SES) and RSPCA
- other people who perform public official functions whose conduct and activities could be investigated by an investigating authority.
Public authorities include:
- public service agencies
- NSW government departments
- NSW Parliament
- local government authorities, including councils, county councils and joint organisations
- NSW police
- Local Aboriginal Land Councils
- statutory authorities
- state-owned corporations
- NSW publicly funded universities
- investigating authorities.
Members of Parliament cannot make a PID, but they can be the subject of a PID.
In some circumstances, employees of ‘controlled entities’ – for example, private hospitals run by public universities, or non-government organisations – may be public officials. If you are in any doubt about whether the person making the report is a public official, you can seek advice from your internal legal team or from the NSW Ombudsman.
It is important to remember that public officials can make a PID about another public official or any public authority – not just the public authority they work for.
For guidance on who can make a PID, see Guideline B1 - Who can report wrongdoing.
A public official can make an anonymous report if they want to minimise the risk of being identified from the information disclosed. They can omit information – such as details of their employment, how they came by the information and the source of the information.
Some anonymous reporters provide contact details. If so, you should attempt to contact them and record if they do not respond or their contact details do not work – for example, disconnected mobile numbers.
If you are unable to contact them or they do not respond, you should assess whether the content of the report – including level of detail, type of information, and so on – indicates that the reporter is likely to be a current public official.
For guidance on dealing with reports that are made anonymously, see Guideline B6 - Anonymous reporting.
The NSW Ombudsman provides advice and assistance with handling PIDs and understanding the PID Act. Contact our Public Interest Disclosure Unit on 02 9286 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org