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4 Accountability and transparency – Code of Conduct

Principle and values

The Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 states: In recognition that public trust in public office requires high standards of public administration, public service agencies, public sector entities and public officials:

  • are committed to exercising proper diligence, care and attention
  • are committed to using public resources in an effective and accountable way
  • are committed to managing information as openly as practicable within the legal framework
  • value and seek to achieve high standards of public administration
  • value and seek to innovate and continuously improve performance
  • value and seek to operate within a framework of mutual obligation and shared responsibility between public service agencies, public sector entities and public officials.

Standards of conduct

4.1 Ensure diligence in public administration

We have an obligation to seek to achieve high standards of public administration and perform our duties to the best of our abilities.

We will:

  • apply due care in our work, and provide accurate and impartial advice to all clients whether members of the public, public service agencies, or any level of government
  • treat all people equitably and consistently, and demonstrate the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice when making decisions
  • exercise our lawful powers and authority with care and for the purpose for which these were granted
  • comply with all reasonable and lawful instructions, whether or not we personally agree with a given policy direction.

4.2 Ensure transparency in our business dealings

In order to ensure all government dealings with private industry are conducted with the highest level of integrity we will ensure:

  • our business meetings with persons who were formerly Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries or senior government representatives are not on matters those persons had official dealings with in their recent previous employment in accordance with government policy
  • any engagement we have with lobbyists is properly recorded
  • we manage gifts, benefits or hospitality in accordance with our agency policies.

4.3 Ensure appropriate use of official resources, public property and facilities

We are accountable for all resources that we use in the course of our duties.

We will:

  • be economical, and avoid waste and extravagance in the use of public resources for proper purposes
  • use any public resource in accordance with official policies
  • purchase, manage and care for public resources in accordance with official policies
  • responsibly utilise human assets such as corporate knowledge and intellectual property, as public resources.

4.4 Ensure appropriate use and disclosure of official information

The public has a right to know the information that is created and used by the government on their behalf. This right is balanced by necessary protections for certain information, including personal information.

Information privacy legislation protects against the misuse of personal information and we have an obligation to ensure the lawful collection and handling of personal information.

In addition, we will:

  • treat official information with care and use it only for the purpose for which it was collected
  • or authorised
  • store official information securely, and limit access to those persons requiring it for legitimate purposes
  • not use confidential or privileged information to further personal interests.

We will continue to respect the confidentiality of official information when we leave public service employment.

4.5 Commit to innovation and continuous performance improvement

The capacity of the public service to deliver services to the community depends on an innovative and creative workforce, and a commitment to continuously improve the performance of our agency and ourselves.

We each have a responsibility, having regard to our own roles, to:

  • maintain and develop our professional skills and knowledge
  • in consultation with our managers, take reasonable steps to identify and apply for development opportunities relevant to our current roles and responsibilities
  • actively participate in employee performance management processes, including induction, performance planning and development
  • actively contribute to developing and improving business planning and processes, including innovative ways of delivering services.