The ACT Integrity Commission has just one staff member, no permanent office space and is yet to finalise policies for investigating complaints - less than three weeks before it is due to start.
But the anti-corruption watchdog's lone employee, inaugural chief executive John Hoitink, insists the commission will be ready take complaints when it launches on December 1.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Canberra Times, Mr Hoitink has also warned the ACT government that the commission would be reduced to a meaningless "complaints processing organisation" unless it was properly resourced and had "genuine teeth".
Mr Hoitink was recruited last month to head up the watchdog, after 15 years with the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The Canberra-born, ex-policeman started in the position on October 28, giving him just five weeks to set up the organisation from scratch before its legislated commencement date.
Two staffers from the Office of the ACT Legislative Assembly have been seconded to help Mr Hoitink set up a website, mandatory reporting framework and complaints portal.
Mr Hoitink confirmed the commission would be ready to receive complaints about alleged public sector corruption and misconduct from December 1.
But he said the policies around how complaints would be assessed were still being developed.
It was unknown what complaints "would come through the door", he said, meaning it was impossible to predict when the commission might launch its first investigation or hold its first public hearing.
The scramble to establish the commission by December 1 follows numerous delays to its long-awaited start date.
The commission was due to commence on July 1, but that had to be pushed back after the appointment of the original pick for the commissioner's role, former ACT chief justice Terence Higgins, was quashed by the Liberals amid concerns about his past links to the Labor party.
Former federal court judge Dennis Cowdroy was eventually appointed to the position in May, with the commission scheduled to start work in September. The ACT Legislative Assembly later agreed to Mr Cowdroy's request for a delay until December 1, which would allow extra time to recruit staff, find offices and develop policies.
If someone has done the wrong thing, regardless of where they sit, they become a target.ACT Integrity Commission chief executive John Hoitink
Mr Hoitink, who will manage the commission's day-to-day operations, said he would soon start the process of hiring investigators.
The commission is expected to have 10 full-time staff when it is up and running, but Mr Hoitink indicated that might not be sufficient based on the workloads of new anti-corruption watchdog's interstate.
He pointed to the Northern Territory's integrity commission, which had to hire five extra employees and contract consultants less than a year after it started due to a high number of complaints.
While not directly appealing to the ACT government for extra funding, Mr Hoitink said the independent watchdog wouldn't be able to do its job if it wasn't properly resourced.
The government has committed $8.4 million over four years to establish the commission. Mr Hoitink will have a base salary of $282,476, while Mr Cowdroy could receive up to $458,840 a year.
"The organisation should not be beholden to a budget, whereby we can't undertake investigations as a result of budget restrictions or budget caps," Mr Hoitink said.
"We have to be an organisation which has a critical mass [of staff], which has genuine teeth and can actually go and do the job we are supposed to be doing.
"To not have that, [the commission] just becomes a complaint processing organisation."
The Canberra Times sought comment from Treasurer Andrew Barr about the commission's funding.
His spokeswoman said the level of funding was based on resourcing for the Tasmanian Integrity Commission, upon which the ACT body was closely modelled. She said the commission's start-up budget included funding for staff, consultants, offices and computer systems.
Born and raised in Canberra, Mr Hoitink has returned to the capital having amassed a wealth of experience fighting crime and corruption.
After starting his career at ACT Policing in 1979, he joined the Australian Federal Police. He transferred to Brisbane in the early 1990s, where he worked on domestic and international investigations.
Mr Hoitink later moved to the Australian Tax Office, where he dealt with serious non-compliance cases.
He joined the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2004, rising to the position of executive director of investigations and, most recently, acting chief executive.
The 15-year period coincided with a number of high-profile cases, including investigations into disgraced NSW politicians Eddie Obeid and Ian McDonald. Former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell resigned from his position after giving evidence at the commission.
The commission is currently probing the source of $100,000 in donations to the NSW Labor Party. Party secretary Kaila Murnain last month stood down from her position after admitting she failed to act on information that billionaire Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo was allegedly the donor.
Mr Hoitink would not comment on individual cases. But he said the commission's independence meant it wasn't deterred from targeting high-profile figures.
"We're not there at the whim of a government or a political party," he said.
"If someone has done the wrong thing, regardless of where they sit, they become a target."
Mr Hoitink said his experience at the NSW ICAC had shown that an anti-corruption watchdog not only exposed corrupt activity, but helped to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
"The disinfectant of sunlight is something that people who might think they want to be part of it [corruption], they will look at it and think 'I'm not going to go down that track because this is the end result'," he said.