Update on CRR error
The Minister for Finance, Services and Property has released the reports of the independent investigation into errors uploading files containing Roads and Maritime Services interests to the Central Register of Restrictions (CRR). Failure to correctly upload these files caused 952 searches of the CRR to return incorrect responses for 582 unique properties stating the Government had no interest in the land in question, which was not the case. The CRR was fully updated by 11 November 2016.
The Government’s first priority is ensuring involved property owners are provided with the correct information and necessary support. A team from DFSI, LPI and RMS is working with the Customer Service Commissioner to ensure that all owners of involved properties are informed. Solicitors and conveyancers who acted for the owners of the properties involved are also being contacted.
The Government has appointed Professor Allan Fels AO and Professor David Cousins AM to consider what would be a fair and reasonable outcome for the owners of the involved properties.
Professors Fels and Cousins will consider any relevant situations where other governments in Australia or overseas have provided incorrect information.
In late October 2016 Land and Property Information (LPI) was made aware that information relating to Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) interests in parcels of land in the proposed F6 Corridor during the period 27 June to 24 October 2016 was not correctly uploaded to the Central Register of Restrictions (CRR).
LPI has conducted a thorough audit of all files received from RMS back to 2009 when the current system was established. This audit found that one additional file, relating to RMS interests in the vicinity of the New M5, was not correctly uploaded to the CRR on 18 September 2014.
The independent investigation
On 28 October, 2016 the Government ordered an independent investigation into the cause of the error and the actions needed to prevent it happening again.
The investigation by PwC found the error occurred because the process for uploading files from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) into the CRR has, since its establishment in 2009, been informal, inconsistent and lacking in governance and review mechanisms. The investigation also found that no changes to LPI staff in 2014 or 2016 impacted the incident.
The Government has released the investigation reports in full and is in the process of adopting all recommendations as a matter of priority.
What has been done
- All files were fully uploaded into the CRR by 11 November 2016.
- A team from DFSI, LPI and RMS has worked with the Customer Service Commissioner to inform property owners involved in the F6 Corridor file. As all properties affected by the New M5 file have now been identified, engagement has commenced with the involved property owners.
- All solicitors and conveyancers who conducted CRR searches in the relevant period are being contacted and advised of the error.
- A public enquiry hotline and a dedicated webpage have operated continuously.
- An independent investigation was conducted and the Government received the final report on 12 December 2016. The investigation concluded the process for uploading RMS files to the CRR was informal, inconsistent and lacked appropriate governance and review mechanisms.
- The independent investigation recommended that the Office of the Registrar General (ORG), LPI and RMS conduct an end to end review and implement solutions to address weaknesses in the CRR process. DFSI fully accepts the recommendations.
- The upload process for RMS files was immediately reviewed. All CRR policies and procedures will continue to be reviewed, developed and updated in line with the recommendations of the investigation as a matter of priority.
What will happen next?
The Government has appointed Professor Allan Fels AO and Professor David Cousins AM to conduct a review and advise the Government on what would be a fair and reasonable outcome for owners of the properties involved. Professors Fels and Cousins are expected to report back to the Government in the first quarter of 2017.
Frequently asked questions
What is the CRR?
The CRR is a database that holds records of government agencies’ and utilities’ potential and actual interests in land which may be required for public infrastructure. For example, when RMS is planning a new road, they provide LPI with a file that flags properties within the broad investigation area for the new road.
LPI maintains the CRR on behalf of participating organisations who periodically submit data. Generally, participating organisations upload data to the CRR directly. However, because RMS may need to upload data affecting large numbers of parcel interests, RMS provides the data to LPI for uploading to the CRR.
Information on RMS interests in the New M5 project was not uploaded into the CRR on 18 September 2014. Information on RMS interests in the F6 project was not fully uploaded to the CRR on 27 June 2016. An investigation has found that these errors were the result of long-standing weaknesses in the process for uploading RMS information to the CRR and reviewing and auditing that information.
Due to the 2014 and 2016 errors, 952 certificates relating to RMS interests were issued incorrectly in response to CRR searches, relating to 582 unique properties:
- 189 properties relating to the proposed F6
- 377 properties relating to the New M5 Project
- 16 properties relating to both the New M5 Project and the proposed F6
In these cases, the CRR search results stated there was no interest in the land in question, which was not the case. A correct search result would have identified that RMS had an interest in the property, enabling the owner to obtain further information from RMS about the nature of that interest. In most cases this would have identified that the property was within a broad area of investigation for a planned or potential road project.
How do I find out if I'm involved?
Involved property owners will be informed by letter from the NSW Government. Solicitors and conveyancers who acted for the owners of the properties involved will also be contacted where possible.
What are the next steps if I am involved?
For more information and general enquiries please contact Service NSW by calling 13 77 88.
For more information on the proposed F6 Corridor visit the RMS website
For more information on the New M5 visit the West Connex website
I am currently looking to buy a property; do I need to be concerned about my CRR search?
No, the CRR was fully updated on 11 November 2016. An independent investigation has been conducted into the error and process improvements are being adopted to ensure this does not happen again.