An analysis of the security vetting files of 19 employees within a South African national department who had been found guilty of financial misconduct in the last five years uncovered that the existing security vetting processes did not detect the financial misconduct of which these employees have been found guilty. This research sets out to establish whether security vetting can be extended to include the detection of financial misconduct within the department and, if so, how. Moreover, if security vetting can indeed be so extended, can it possibly enhance the management of fraud risk across all South African public sector departments? Qualitative interviews were conducted with 27 employees who are key to fraud risk management and security vetting within the researched department. During the interviews, the following five themes emerged: (1) the reasons why employees commit financial misconduct; (2) why it is not detected by the security vetting process; (3) the potential alignment of the security vetting process to facilitate the detection of financial misconduct; (4) the following through on security vetting findings; and (5) sharing these findings with the internal audit and risk management functions within state departments. These themes were probed and are reported on, establishing firstly that security vetting can indeed be extended to include the detection of financial misconduct within the researched department, and secondly that it can enhance the management of fraud risk across all South African public sector departments, given the specific mandate of the State Security Agency (SSA) and the national security vetting strategy.
This article was written in partial fulfilment of a master’s in Fraud Risk Management at the University of Pretoria.