Executive Summary

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      "A public service organisation differs from most other institutions to the extent that upon its integrity and performance public confidence in governments may rest. It is special because public service officials are entrusted with managing public funds and resources, and may act as defenders of constitutionality and probity in governance."

Introduction in Principles, Conventions and Practice Guidance Series (1995)

This paper outlines a framework for ethics in the administration of government to clarify the State Services Commission's (SSC) role, and the roles of departments and chief executives of public sector organisations. It also addresses the application of this framework to the wider State sector, which includes those bodies identified with government that are beyond the definition of the legal Crown. It defines roles and responsibilities, and proposes some steps that the SSC may wish to take to fulfil its role.

Part One of the paper establishes working definitions and explains the infrastructure that supports ethical conduct. It locates New Zealand's approach to the management of ethics within an international context, and considers the strengths and risks of a system that is highly devolved and results-based, with significant managerial autonomy, relying largely on the integrity of its participants and processes rather than the application of extensive rules and central control.

In Part Two, the paper describes the legislative environment and the key instruments of accountability that support an integrity approach.

Part Three describes four levers of influence that managers can call upon to influence ethical conduct. This is the core of the framework presented. A modular framework is proposed, which can be adapted to suit the nature, size, and purpose of organisations. It is applicable to departments and central agencies alike.

Part Four outlines the SSC's role in assisting the devolved management of ethics. It uses the modular framework to analyse the SSC's current work, and suggests that the SSC should be more active in the 'soft' elements of management to complement the 'hard' elements on which it has focused to date.

Finally, the paper looks at the application of the modular approach to departments and the Departmental Performance Assessment (DPA) system. This system is changing to take the future capability of departments into greater account. The modular framework addresses this by suggesting extensions to the DPA's present focus on organisational integrity.

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