Developing policies and procedures

Information to help authorities develop clear and comprehensive conflict of interest policies and procedures

Conflicts of interest policies are a core component of an authority’s Integrity Framework.

Clear and comprehensive policies and procedures help to control and mitigate conflicts of interest risks.

To help inform policy content and the type of guidance provided to officers, authorities should consider their operating context and risks such as:

  • circumstances where it may be difficult to avoid conflicts of interests (for example, regional locations where there are closer relationships between public officers and the community)
  • functions and activities where there may be heightened risks for conflicts of interest (some of these are described in the previous section of this guide).

A blanket policy and associated procedures may not work well for all risk areas so an authority may choose to refer to specific high risk areas (like procurement) in policy or develop a separate policy. Whatever approach is used, key definitions and concepts should be consistent.

Policies should be reviewed regularly to account for any changes in the work of the authority, changes to legislation or other requirements, and in response to identified issues.

To help develop or strengthen policy and procedures consider the following inclusions:

Overarching information
  • Strong opening statement that conflicts of interest are not in themselves wrong or unethical but they must be identified, declared and managed in the public interest
  • Definitions of key terms (actual, potential and perceived)
  • Scope includes those who may be undertaking work for the authority but not employed such as contractors and consultants privy to confidential information, or making decisions on behalf of the authority
Process information
  • How to identify a conflict of interest (officers to disclose and discuss if unsure or the situation is not clear so the authority can help them decide if it is a conflict of interest)
  • Who to seek advice from
  • Who a conflict of interest is to be disclosed to, how and when
  • When to update declarations such as when changing roles/functions or when an interest moves from potential to actual
  • How a conflict may be managed including who makes decisions and principles or criteria to be considered
  • Reference any legislative or other requirements
  • Cross reference code of conduct requirements and other relevant policies such as gifts, benefits and hospitality; secondary employment; and documents like the authority’s statement of business ethics
  • Provide case studies or scenarios based on realistic work related situations
  • How a conflict is recorded and how the management of it is documented including why a particular management strategy was chosen
  • How frequently the management plan is to be reviewed and how that is to occur
  • Approval process of the management plan to ensure adequacy (for example, manager, director and human resources)
  • Requirement to record conflicts in a central register
  • How monitoring and evaluation of conflicts occur
  • Role of managers to be alert to conflicts of interest risks inherent to their work areas, enforce policy and act if they suspect an officer has an undeclared conflict of interest
Breaches and reporting
  • Potential consequences for non-compliance with policy such as disciplinary action
  • How potential breaches of policy are reported including the need for officers to report where they suspect another officer has not disclosed a conflict of interest 

Policies and procedures cannot anticipate every situation and strategies specified in them may not address the complexity of a particular situation. Where this occurs, an authority may need to seek expertise as to how best to manage the conflict (for example, legal advice). 

Last updated: