Integrity

Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Mandatory Conduct

 

Note: This Part of the Code sets out the mandatory provisions of the Code that apply to all government sector employees and heads of government sector agencies.

All government sector employees have responsibilities to:

  • Demonstrate high levels of personal conduct consistent with the Ethical Framework
  • Seek assistance when unsure about how to implement the Ethical Framework
  • Promote the implementation of the Ethical Framework to their colleagues
  • Report possible breaches of the Ethical Framework to relevant officers.

All Managers and Executives have the responsibilities of government sector employees (above), and in addition have responsibilities to:

  • Lead and promote implementation of the Ethical Framework in their workplace
  • Ensure their workplace culture, practices and systems (including recruitment and promotion) operate consistently with the Ethical Framework
  • Recognise and promote employee and team conduct that exemplifies the Ethical Framework
  • Act promptly and with due process to prevent and address any breaches of the Ethical Framework
  • In the case of a senior executive (including an acting senior executive), declare in writing private interests that have the potential to influence, or could be perceived to influence, decisions made or advice given by the senior executive.
  • Ensure that any real or perceived conflicts of interests are avoided or effectively managed.

Department Secretaries and heads of agencies have the responsibilities of executives (above), and in addition have responsibilities to:

  • Lead and promote implementation of the Ethical Framework in their agency
  • Ensure the general conduct and management of the functions and activities of their Department or agency are in accordance with the core values of the Ethical Framework.
  • Oversee the implementation of the Ethical Framework and make improvements where necessary.

When is the Ethical Framework to be applied?

The Ethical Framework is to be applied at all times in working relations with colleagues, clients and customers, stakeholders and the government of the day.

These working relations are depicted in the diagram below:

Code of Ethics

How do I act in the public interest?

You should treat all people with whom you have contact in the course of your work:

  • Equally without prejudice or favour
  • With honesty, consistency and impartiality. 

You should also, in the course of your work:

  • Place the public interest over your personal interest
  • Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles
  • Provide apolitical and non-partisan advice
  • Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny
  • Be fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

Acting in the public interest requires leadership, courage and innovation to develop practical recommendations and actions that are consistent with the core values and will help the Government of the day achieve its objectives. Acting in ways that are expedient or convenient, but which do not promote the integrity, trust, service and accountability of the public sector, are not in the public interest.

How do I manage conflicts of interests?

Sometimes you may find that your private interests make it difficult for you to perform your duties impartially in the public interest. This may happen when there is a direct conflict between your current duties and responsibilities and your private interests (an ‘actual’ conflict of interests); when a person could reasonably perceive that your private interests are likely to improperly influence the performance of your official duties, whether or not this is in fact the case (a ‘reasonably perceived’ conflict of interests); or when you have a private interest that could conflict with your official duties in the future (a ‘potential’ conflict of interests). Actions you should take include:

  • Always disclose actual, potential or reasonably perceived conflicts of interests to your manager as soon as you become aware of the conflict
  • Where a conflict of interests occurs it should always be resolved in favour of the public interest, rather than your own.

To resolve any conflicts of interests that occur, or could occur, a range of options is available depending on the significance of the conflict.  These options include, but are not limited to [1]:

  • Informing likely affected persons that a disclosure has been made, giving details and the agency’s view that there is no actual conflict or the potential for conflict is minimal
  • Appointing further persons to a panel/committee/team to minimise the actual or perceived influence or involvement of the person with the actual or reasonably perceived conflict
  • Where the persons likely to be concerned about a potential, actual or reasonably perceived conflict are identifiable, seeking their views as to whether they object to the person having any, or any further, involvement in the matter
  • Restricting the access of the person to relevant information that is sensitive, confidential or secret
  • Directing the person to cease supporting a third party whose actions may conflict with the agency’s interests (e.g. a person or organisation taking legal proceedings against the agency)
  • Removing the person from duties or from responsibility to make decisions in relation to which the ‘conflict’ arises and reallocating those duties to another employee (who is not supervised by the person with the ‘conflict’)
  • Persons with a ‘conflict’ who are members of boards or committees absenting themselves from or not taking part in any debate or voting on the issue

As a senior executive, how do I declare private interests?

A senior executive (including an acting senior executive) must make a written declaration of private financial, business, personal or other interests or relationships that have the potential to influence, or could be perceived to influence, decisions made or advice given by the senior executive.

Where a senior executive has no such private interests to declare, s/he must declare a “nil return”.

After a senior executive makes an initial declaration, a fresh declaration must be made:

  • as soon as practicable, following any relevant change in the senior executive’s private interests
  • as soon as practicable, following the senior executive’s assignment to a new role or responsibility
  • at least annually.

A template form for making a private interests declaration is included in Section 4.4 of Behaving Ethically: A guide for NSW government sector employees. The form may be used as is, or augmented by a department/agency to reflect the operating environment and/or business risks which are specific to the department/agency.

A senior executive must provide their declaration to:

  • In a department, the Secretary
  • In an executive agency related to a department, the agency head
  • In a separate Public Service agency, the agency head
  • In the Teaching Service, NSW Police Force, Transport Service of NSW and any other service of the Crown, the head of the service.

A Department Secretary must provide their declaration to the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet must provide their declaration to the Public Service Commissioner.

A head of a separate Public Service agency must provide their declaration to the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

A head of an executive agency related to a department must provide their declaration to the Department Secretary.

A head of a transport-related service must provide their declaration to the Secretary of the Department of Transport.

A head of any other service of the Crown must provide their declaration to the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

A person to whom a declaration is to be provided is responsible for ensuring:

  • Senior executives complete declarations
  • Handling and storage of declarations complies with the requirements of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.

How do I treat colleagues, customers, clients and stakeholders?

All government sector employees are to treat their colleagues, customers, clients and stakeholders in their agency and in other agencies, and the government of the day by:

  • Considering people equally without prejudice or favour
  • Acting professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality
  • Taking responsibility for situations, showing leadership and courage
  • Placing the public interest over personal interest
  • Appreciating difference and welcoming learning from others
  • Building relationships based on mutual respect
  • Upholding the law, institutions of government and democratic principles
  • Communicating intentions clearly and inviting teamwork and collaboration
  • Providing apolitical and non-partisan advice
  • Providing services fairly with a focus on customer needs
  • Being flexible, innovative and reliable in service delivery
  • Engaging with the not-for-profit and business sectors to develop and implement service solutions
  • Focusing on quality while maximising service delivery
  • Recruiting and promoting employees on merit
  • Taking responsibility for decisions and actions
  • Providing transparency to enable public scrutiny
  • Observing standards for safety
  • Being fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

How do I treat lobbyists?

All government sector employees and heads of government sector agencies must comply with Premier's Memorandum M2014-13- NSW Lobbyists Code of Conduct published on the Department of Premier and Cabinet's website, as amended from time to time.

How do I use public resources appropriately?

You must use public resources in an efficient, effective and prudent way. Never use public resources – money, property, equipment or consumables – for your personal benefit, or for an unauthorised purpose.

If you are responsible for receiving, spending or accounting for money, ensure you know, understand and comply with the requirements of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983, the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912 and the Government Advertising Act 2011.

[1] For further detail on how to manage actual, potential or reasonably perceived conflicts of interests, see the NSW Ombudsman Fact Sheet Conflicts of Interests at www.ombo.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/3685/FS_PSA_03_Conflict_of_Interest.pdf.