Commonwealth computers used in parking scam

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A group of Canberra public servants has been busted using their government-issued computers to run a dodgy car-parking ring.

Bosses at the National Health and Medical Research Council have threatened to dob in their employees to the city's parking authorities for systematically flouting two-hour parking in the centre of the capital.

Workers at the research council had developed a system of parking in two-hour spots outside their Gordon Street office with fellow bureaucrats keeping look-out from their desks overlooking the street.

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The NHMRC's internal instant messaging system was then used to post warnings of the movements of the ACT Government parking inspectors, allowing the public servants to move their cars and avoid costly parking fines.


An all-day space at a legitimate Civic car park can cost up to $13.50 a day and with a new pay-parking regime looking for other areas of the city, where it has traditionally been free, parking is a hot issue in the public service right now. 

But the NHMRC's bosses were tipped off to the parking scam operating in their building and senior manager Sarah Byrne sprang into action in March, dashing off a no-nonsense memo to her workers making it clear this sort of thing would not be tolerated.

"First and foremost, this is an inappropriate use of both the IM system and office time, and anyone involved in this is directed to stop immediately," Ms Byrne said. 

"I will not have NHMRC resources used to flout the law."

The executive director noted that the vast majority of her workers were doing the right thing, but said that she would not hesitate to use her law-enforcement contacts to crack down on the parking conspirators. 

"As many of you know, my previous position was managing ... legal and regulatory policy for the ACT Government," Ms Byrne warned.

"So the law concerning parking is an issue not unfamiliar to me.  

"And the people who issue the tickets are not unfamiliar to me either."

Parking fines might be the least of parkers' worries, with Ms Byrne warning that the public service's disciplinary book might be thrown at members of the dodgy parking ring.

"If I hear of this happening again then I will make it a code of conduct issue, and I’ll also alert my good friends in the Office of Regulatory Services of where and whom to look for," Ms Byrne wrote.

"I’m also raising this with the other (executive directors) who have staff involved for them to deal with in their own way."

The manager also revealed the council's instant messaging system had been placed under surveillance and that it was no longer a question of if but when miscreants would be caught.

"As we discussed at yesterday’s branch meeting, the IM system is monitored," Ms Byrne wrote.  

"I *will* know about this if it continues. 

"So to those doing it, stop."