State Services Commission, 19 August 2010.
The Integrity and Conduct Survey measures State servants' perceptions of integrity and conduct across the State Services. The findings are drawn from a survey of randomly selected State servants. 13,102 State servants from 41 agencies were invited to participate. 8238 responded representing a high response rate of over 65 percent. The survey was implemented by Research New Zealand in March and April 2010 on behalf of the State Services Commission, using a question set licensed from the Ethics Resource Center.
The survey contributes to achieving the Government's goal of strengthening trust in the State Services. It measures the trustworthiness of State servants by asking State Services employees about integrity-related behaviour they are observing in the workplace.
Aggregated results from the survey are presented for the State Services as a whole, and by agency type (Public Service Departments, Crown Agents, District Health Boards, and 'Other Crown Entities' 1 ). The 2010 findings are compared with the 2007 benchmark, and recommendations are made for improvement.
The objectives of the survey are to:
- Support the State Services Commissioner in his statutory responsibility to set standards, and provide advice and guidance on matters of integrity and conduct;
- Inform the Minister of State Services, State Services agencies, and the general public about integrity and conduct in State Services agencies;
- Provide an overall assessment of the trustworthiness of State servants under the 'six trust elements';
- Identify trends in the trustworthiness of State servants by comparing the 2010 findings with those from 2007.
- Examine the differences that may exist between State servants, based on the type of State Services agency they work in; and
- Identify areas for improvement and make recommendations.
Why does the State Services Commission (SSC) undertake the integrity and conduct survey? What is its purpose?
Under the State Sector Act 1988, the State Services Commissioner may set standards of integrity and conduct by issuing a Code of Conduct for most State Services agencies. This statutory responsibility places the Commissioner in a leadership role, articulating and reinforcing standards in the State Services. By undertaking a survey of State servants, SSC is able to measure how these standards are implemented, and map trends in integrity and conduct across the State Services over time.
This is the second integrity and conduct survey. The first survey was conducted in 2007 and serves as a benchmark against which to measure future trends. The 2010 survey has been conducted to measure what progress has been made since 2007.
The survey contributes to the Government's goal of strengthening trust in the State Services. It does this by measuring levels of trustworthiness exhibited by State servants. By comparing the results from the 2010 survey with those from 2007, we can start to identify trends in behaviour and identify areas for improvement. The survey also promotes discussion and action to ensure that integrity levels are maintained and improved.
SSC randomly selected a representative sample of State Service agencies from those to which the Standards of Integrity and Conduct have been applied. A random sample of State servants from within those agencies were then invited to participate. In 2010, there were 41 agencies involved and approximately 13,102 individual State servants who were randomly selected to take part. In 2007, there were 38 agencies involved and 7,782 individual State servants who were involved.
An independent research provider, Research New Zealand, was contracted by the SSC to conduct the survey. The question set has been licensed from the Ethics Resource Center in the U.S.A.
The survey was conducted largely online. However, some State servants do not have easy access to computers at work, and those employees were sent paper surveys to complete.
The code of conduct for the State Services, 'Standards of Integrity and Conduct', came into effect in November 2007. The code of conduct provides the basis for ongoing trust in the State Services. It also protects staff by setting out clear expectations, so that everyone knows their obligations and what is required of them. The code can be found at
Under the State Sector Act 1998, the State Services Commissioner has set standards of integrity and conduct and applied them in a Code of Conduct to most State Services agencies. The code currently applies to Public Service departments, statutory Crown Entities (including District Health Boards), Crown Entity Companies (excluding Crown Research Institutes) and a number of Crown Entity subsidiaries. To give effect to the code, agencies are encouraged to put in place six key elements that support trustworthy behaviour. These "six trust elements" are:
- Agencies have standards of integrity and conduct that meet the State Services Commissioner's minimum standards;
- Agencies promote their standards of integrity and conduct;
- Standards of integrity and conduct are integrated in the behaviour of State servants;
- Managers model the standards of integrity and conduct in their behaviour;
- Consequences for behaviour that breaches the standards of integrity and conduct are known by State servants; and
- Agencies act decisively when breaches occur.
The survey assesses standards of integrity and conduct across the State Services under these six trust elements.
Relative to other countries in the world, New Zealand ranks extremely well in surveys measuring trust, integrity and corruption in the public sector. However, this is not by accident. Initiatives such as the integrity and conduct survey help us understand and maintain these high levels of trust and integrity in New Zealand.
The findings are largely positive, supporting NZ's rating as the least corrupt public sector on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Although changes since 2007 are not dramatic, results indicate a strengthening in the culture of integrity:
- almost all State servants are aware of their agency's integrity standards (97%)
- more State servants than in 2007 are aware of the provisions in the Protected Disclosures Act (increase: 31% to 35%)
- criminal activity (theft, fraud) remains at very low levels, with the vast majority of misconduct being unacceptable social behaviour (bullying, lying, internet usage)
- fewer State servants have observed sexual harassment (decrease: 7% to 5%)
- more State servants report misconduct when they see it (increase: 55% to 63%)
- more agree their colleagues consider standards of integrity and conduct when making work-related decisions (increase: 76% to 81%)
- more strongly agree their colleagues talk about the importance of integrity and conduct and doing the right thing in the work they do (increase: 19% to 23%)
- more managers are acting on employee's breaches of integrity standards (increase: 52% to 59%)
- more managers are integrating performance on integrity and conduct into employees' performance appraisals (increase: 63% to 67%)
- Several areas still need attention and there are a small number of disappointing results, including:
- no greater awareness of training on integrity matters than in 2007 (56% awareness)
- awareness of the Protected Disclosures Act remains disappointingly low at 35 percent (despite the small improvement since 2007).
- the breaches identified as most prevalent in 2007 remain so:
- abusive or intimidating behaviour towards other staff (38%);
- improper use of the internet or email (24%);
- lying to other employees (20%).
- negative results relating to some aspects of senior managers' behaviour, including
- lower levels of trust that senior and middle management will keep their promises and commitments (compared with immediate managers, and compared with 2007 data).
- lower levels of confidence in some agency types that senior and middle managers will be held to account for breaches of standards (compared with immediate managers, and compared with 2007 data).
The results will be communicated to all State Service agencies to which the Commissioner's code of conduct has been applied. This will include briefings to Chief Executives and HR representatives. The full State Services-wide report, and the summary publication will be published on the SSC website and the Public Sector Intranet.
The survey report identifies areas of weakness and recommends eight priority actions for agencies to target these areas. It is recommended that agencies:
- publish and promote to staff their protected disclosures policy, and re-publish it at regular intervals, as required by the Protected Disclosures Act 2000.
- provide staff with training on standards of integrity and conduct when joining the organisation and periodically to refresh their understanding.
- promote information to staff on how to access integrity advice and support.
- target the most frequently observed breaches of misconduct:
1 abusive or intimidating behaviour towards other staff - this may involve workshops to raise awareness of behaviour that is unacceptable.
2 improper use of the internet or email - publicise agency policies and act on breaches.
- train their managers to model ethical behaviour.
- communicate fully and frequently with staff about what is going on in the organisation, especially when undergoing organisational change.
- require managers to evaluate employees' integrity and conduct as part of their performance appraisals.
- have procedures for handling reports of misconduct that ensure the staff member who makes the disclosure is regularly informed of their agency's response.
State Services-wide results are reported in a full narrative report and in a summary publication. Both are available on the SSC website at
The direct cost of conducting the survey was approximately $50,000. This figure does not include staff time.
Yes. The survey contributes to the Government's goal of strengthening trust in the State Services. It is important to regularly measure and map trends in integrity and conduct in order to understand integrity levels and improve trust. The Office of the Auditor General has specified that the survey will provide a measurement of trust in the public sector.
Strengthening trust in the State Services is one of three priorities the State Services Commission has agreed with the Minister of State Services. The Integrity and Conduct survey provides the "inside out" perspective of trust, that is State servants' views of trust within the State Services. The biennial Kiwis Count survey provides the "outside in" perspective by measuring the public's trust in State Services.
The Office of the Auditor General has specified that the Integrity and Conduct Survey, Kiwis Count Survey, and the annual Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index will be the main measures for determining levels of trust in the New Zealand public sector.
A number of countries measure integrity and conduct across their government agencies but in different ways. The Australian Public Service Commission "State of the Service" report measures how well employees and agencies covered by the Public Service Act 1999 are performing across a number of areas including in ethics and integrity.
The UK Civil Service published the results of its first engagement survey in February this year measuring drivers for employee engagement in areas including leadership and change management, the work itself, and inclusion and fair treatment.
The US Merit Systems Protection Board periodically conducts a nationwide survey across the US Federal Service to measure the health of personnel practices.
These surveys provide some information into how other Public Service agencies compare with the New Zealand Public Service but because the surveys are not identical in the criteria they measure, results across countries are not always comparable.
The Protected Disclosures Act 2000 (sometimes called "whistle-blower" legislation) promotes the public interest by helping to create an environment that encourages employees to report suspected serious wrongdoing. It does this by giving the employee protection in case of retaliation for making the disclosure. The Act also ensures that disclosures are given due consideration and are acted upon within the timeframe set out in the Act.
Provided that the disclosure of information is made in accordance with the Act, employees of the organisation will be protected from:
- civil and criminal prosecution
- retaliatory action by the employer
Copies of the 2010 survey results can be found at
The 2007 survey results can be found at
1 The term 'other Crown Entities' includes Autonomous Crown Entities, Independent Crown Entities, Crown Entity Companies, and Crown Entity Subsidiaries.