Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Scenario 5 - Social Responsibility and Aiding the Community

Bob works in Human Resources. Privately, Bob often speaks to various public interest and civic-minded groups about corporate social responsibility. He is a conscientious, long-serving public servant employee, and has an excellent record. In speaking at a local Council meeting, he learned that a particular group is trying to raise money to fund a community centre. There is no question about the benefit such a centre would be to the community. The group has started to plan their fund-raising project, but they appear to be totally bereft of funds. What they need in the first instance are leaflets (for promotional letter-drops), some posters, and a bit of artwork. This will start the ball rolling to get the wider local community involved and interested. They believe that more funds and community support will then pour in.

Without some help from someone, there is a strong possibility that the community centre might never get off the ground, for lack of public awareness – and so lack of initial public support. Bob realises that he is in a position to volunteer some help, and he is confident that some of his work colleagues would be willing to help also. They could produce 2500 leaflets and 150 posters for the community group afterhours at the agency. They would take no time away from their jobs. They would use some agency resources, however, but that would be minor: five reams of paper, 160 size A3 posterboards, markers, a computer, printer, and photocopier. In the scheme of things at the agency, this would be very minor call on the agency’s resources.

What should Bob do?

  1. Do just as he had outlined. It is in the public interest.
  2. Do not do this. It is a misuse of agency resources.
  3. Help the group, but the work need not be done after hours, because this is a public-interest matter.
  4. Check with the management on other ways of helping the community group

About the possible answers

Re: a. 

No: although it might be, in some sense, in the public interest, agency resources are not Bob’s to donate in this way.

Re: b. 

This is correct. What Bob has in mind is clearly a misuse of agency resources which are not Bob’s to donate.

Re: c. 

No, although it might be in the public interest, agency resources are not Bob’s to donate in this way.

Re: d.


Perhaps Bob and his work colleagues, with the approval of management, could canvas staff in the agency to help the community group in another way, in their own time, and to donate or make available their own resources.  Although Bob’s intentions are civic-minded, he must not use agency resources in this way because they do not belong to him.

Government Sector Employment Act 2013

Ethical Framework


(b) Act professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality.


(c) Uphold the law.


(c) Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny.

(e) Be fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

Crimes Act 1900

Section 159 – Larceny by persons in Public Service.

Section 192C – Obtaining property belonging to another.