The community rightly expects that public officers carry out their duties fairly and without bias, and that decisions they make are not affected by their personal interests – they are made in the public interest. This reflects the principle that public office is held for the public good.
Why manage conflicts of interest
An important part of maintaining integrity in the government sector is effectively managing conflicts of interest – instances where a public officer’s personal interests overlap, or may be perceived to overlap, with their public duties.
Conflicts of interest are not necessarily wrong or unethical. Where they may pose a problem is when they are poorly identified and managed by individual officers and authorities. This has the potential to undermine the decisions of authorities, waste public money, damage reputations and erode community trust. Officers who deliberately conceal or understate conflicts of interest to pursue their own interests may be engaging in corruption.
What good management looks like
Good management of conflicts of interest involves:
- authorities building cultures that prioritise integrity
- authorities and officers having a shared understanding of what conflicts of interest are, the risks they pose and the need for them to be actively identified, declared and managed
- authorities having robust policies and processes to support officers identify and declare conflicts of interest, and ensure they are appropriately managed
- managers enforcing policies and supporting declarations through regular discussions with officers about potential conflicts of interest
- ongoing monitoring and evaluation of conflicts of interest.
Resources to help you
These resources are not intended to be exhaustive. Authorities need to consider information provided in the context of their operations, legislation and risks.
Authorities should use the Conflicts of Interest Guide to evaluate and improve their current approach to supporting officers to identify, declare and manage conflicts of interest.
The supporting resources (videos and information sheets) can be used by authorities to raise awareness of conflicts of interest with their public officers. They can also be used by officers to build their own knowledge.