Date: 19 June 2017
Source: Herald Sun
A SENIOR bureaucrat at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade faked her two sons’ resumes after they changed their names to give them plum positions that cost taxpayers up to $400,000.
The stunning manipulation of public positions and contracts by former MFB chief information officer Mary Powderly-Hughes was outlined in a report by ombudsman Deborah Glass and described as “deception where the family nest was feathered, plain and simple”.
An investigation by Ms Glass shows that Ms Powderly-Hughes hired her son David Hewson and gave him pay increases without ever declaring they were related.
The report says that including his initial contract, which began on July 9, 2014, “the total cost to the MFB for Mr Hewson was $266,060.88 for less than two years of work”.
“After giving him a payrise and moving him into a permanent role, she then hired her second son, also falsifying his CV and ‘interviewing’ him at her home after he, too, had changed his name to conceal the relationship,” Ms Glass says.
The second son, Barry Robinson, told investigators that as well as helping him “develop” his CV, his mother “trained him in the computer programs that were integral to the role”.
Mrs Powderly-Hughes and her sons resigned or had their employment terminated around the time of their ombudsman interviews last year.
“Some cases I have investigated over the years seem so unlikely you could not make them up. Except, as in this case, they did,” Ms Glass said.
The revelations were brought to light after whistleblowers approached the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, and the investigation was subsequently referred to Ms Glass.
Ms Glass said she tabled a report into the case as a reminder of the importance of people reporting something suspicious in their workplace.
She also recommended the MFB audit Mrs Powderly-Hughes’ “involvement in procurement processes with a view to identifying any irregularities or impropriety”.
After seeing a draft copy of the ombudsman’s report, the MFB CEO Jim Higgins told Ms Glass “of his intention to refer the conduct identified in this report to Victoria Police”.
The Herald Sun has approached the MFB for further comment.