Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

3.5 Governance

Governance refers to the framework of rules, relationships, systems and processes by which authority is exercised and controlled in organisations. [1]

In the NSW government sector, governance refers specifically to the complex relationships between agencies, the Government and Parliament: where agencies are given particular powers, functions, responsibilities and resources to act – and those agencies are also required to give an account to Ministers, the Government and the Parliament on how those responsibilities and resources are used. 

Governance also refers to the arrangements within agencies: where public responsibilities and funding are delegated from the Department Secretary or other head of an agency to other government sector employees – and those employees are also required to give an account to the agency head (and ultimately, to the Parliament) on how they exercised those powers and used that funding. 

The requirements of governance apply to every NSW government sector employee: we are paid government monies to deliver government services; we are seen by the public to be representatives of the State; and our work may be contributing to how our agency taxes, regulates and enforces State laws over individuals, businesses and communities. As users of government power and recipients of government funding, we are obliged also to be accountable, to report, explain and answer to the government (and the public, more generally) about how we are using government powers and finances.

The objective, values and principles of the Ethical Framework provide criteria to establish, administer and evaluate the governance systems and practices of agencies. These criteria include: act in the public interest, uphold the law, communicate intentions clearly, provide services with a focus on customer needs, provide transparency to enable public scrutiny, and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.