Integrity

Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Scenario 9 - A change of brief

Ingrid is in charge of a government planning division. A new government has been elected promising a return to budget surplus. Ingrid’s team has worked very hard developing a major restructure of operations. The team is proud that their plan will create a much more efficient system, but recognises that it will be very disruptive in the short term.

After a Cabinet meeting, the Minister has requested that the plan be resubmitted so there are no changes in a particular region.

Ingrid’s team have closely re-examined the plan and remain of the view that changes in that region are necessary for the success of the overall plan.

What should Ingrid do?

  1. Go to the Secretary of her department and resign?
  2. Resubmit the same plan highlighting how much work had been done by her team?
  3. Resubmit an amended plan as requested by the Minister’s office?
  4. Resubmit the plan noting that the changes have been made at the request of the Minister’s office?
  5. Resubmit the plan noting that the changes have been made at the request of the Minister’s office, but also advising that the Department remains of the view that the changes are necessary in that region and why?


About the possible answers

Re: a.

No; Ministers and Cabinet are the decision makers under the Westminster System.  Rejection does not necessarily mean the advice provided was poor.

Re: b.

No; Ministers and Cabinet are the decision makers under the Westminster System.  Rejection does not necessarily mean the advice provided was poor.

Re: c.

No; It is critical that any supplementary or revised advice is identified as having been provided at the request of the Minister or ministerial staff (whichever is the case), and that the original advice remains clear to the reader.

Re: d.

Yes; It is critical that any supplementary or revised advice is identified as having been provided at the request of the Minister or ministerial staff (whichever is the case), and that the original advice remains clear to the reader.

Re: e.

THE BEST ANSWER FOR YOUR WORKPLACE?

Consistent with the Ethical Framework, an independent government sector provides apolitical and non-partisan advice in the public interest.  It is critical that any supplementary or revised advice is identified as having been provided at the request of the Minister or ministerial staff (whichever is the case), and that the original advice remains clear to the reader. Advice should not be changed or opinions omitted if the agency remains of the belief that particular arguments should be considered by the Minister.