In 1908, the Chief Surveyor sent a circular to all surveyors employed by the department. It quoted Clause 50 of the "Public Service Act" which stated that every officer should devote his whole time to his official duties, and was not allowed to do paid work of any kind for private persons. The clause was to be strictly enforced. All officers of the department were also notified in writing that private work was forbidden. Surveyors had been in the habit of employing draftsmen, often departmental employees, to draw up the plans of their surveys. There were suspicions that infringements were occurring, but conclusive evidence could not be obtained. In 1912 and 1913 evidence surfaced about the falsification of field books and vouchers. Six officers were not recommended for salary increments, and one, Mr J A Gorringe was reported to the Surveyors Board. The Board found Mr Gorringe guilty of the charges against him. He appealed against the decision of the Board. The appeal went before the Full Court, and was subsequently withdrawn.
The Under Secretary for Lands asked the Public Service Board for directions on any further action. The Public Service Board directed that a searching investigation was to be made. Mr Thomas Mowbray, Police Magistrate, Brisbane, was appointed to inquire and report, there were four terms of reference. The inquiry was held between 5th and 30th of January 1914, and examined 68 witnesses. As a result of the inquiry and further investigation, six officers were found guilty and had their salary reduced.
These papers comprise a copy of the evidence taken by Mr Mowbray, reports, correspondence, copies of exhibits, and papers in the case against Mr Gorringe. Some of the correspondence is from the general system of the Survey Office, including some material from batch files.