The maintenance of high ethical values is critical to the maintenance and enhancement of public trust and confidence in government and government services.
On 8 May from 8.00 to 10.00 am Transparency International is hosting “Continuing the Conversation about NZ National Integrity Systems: Key Findings” at Rutherford Lecture Theatre 2, Victoria University, Wellington. To find out more about what it means, here..
Lobbying Disclosure Bill The PSA proposed a chilling period for public servants leaving to work in the private sector, as part of our submission on Holly Walker’s Lobbying Disclosure Bill.
This article from The Guardian sets out an example of why such a thing is needed, and also makes some good points about the lack of transparency of private sector contracted services. Please click here to read our submission.
Raising Awareness of Whisteblowing procedures
New Zealand has the Protected Disclosures Act 2000
which provides for protection of people reporting ‘serious wrongdoing’ in their organisation. The PSA supports the Act, but we believe that the threshold for reporting is set very high, and as a consequence the protections provided by the Act are rarely used. We understand that SSC is proposing to take a lead on increasing awareness of the Protected Disclosures Act, and the PSA will be involved in this activity.
The State Services Commission recently held a workshop on whistleblowing with Professor A J Brown of Griffith University in Australia, who has done extensive research on the subject in the Australian public sector. Professor Brown has worked closely with the Community and Public Sector Union in Australia, who support his work.
Professor Brown made a number of pertinent observations, including the strong link between a positive and open workplace culture and the level of reporting of wrongdoing. He was also clear that early disclosure of a problem is crucial – if not, it becomes much bigger and more difficult to address. And he dispelled the myth that employees won’t speak up for fear of reprisal; they will speak out if they are confident that action will be taken, and that they will be listened to with respect.
The ‘Whistling While They Work
' is described as a good practice guide for managing internal reporting of wrongdoing in public sector organisations.
It is an excellent resource document, intended to:
* Encourage public officials to report wrongdoing within or by their organisation, to those who can effect action
* Ensure effective action, including investigation, in response to those reports
* Ensure that employees who report wrongdoing are supported and protected from adverse consequences that can
flow from having fulfilled their duty to report
The definition of whistleblowing that the guide uses is: ‘the disclosure by organisation members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organisations that may be able to effect action’ (Miceli and Near 1984).
Will NZ still be the rated least corrupt?
Transparency International recently launched their 2013 National Integrity System research. This will be a big & wide-ranging project that the PSA will want to be part of. Last year, New Zealand was rated the country with the least perceived corruption
Social Media Policy
We came across this short video for staff of the Department of Justice (Victoria, Australia) and reckon it very usefully describes the key elements of social media rules for most employees, particularly state servants.
We’d love to know what you think; email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Terms of Reference revised (August 2012)
The PSA Secretariat have signed off a revised terms of reference for the Ethics Network. You can read these here.
Strong Commitment to Protecting Public Resources (June 2012)
The Office of the Auditor General has just published the results of a survey on fraud awareness, prevention and detection in NZ’s public sector – covering government departments, Crown entities, DHBs, SOEs and local government.
It’s available here http://www.oag.govt.nz/2012/fraud-awareness and the sidebar on the right has links to reports broken down by sector. The conclusion reads:
"Overall, the results show a strong commitment within the New Zealand public sector to protecting public resources. However, we cannot be complacent if we are to maintain our good record of keeping fraud at bay. It is particularly important to be vigilant in the current global economic climate, because there is an increased risk of fraud when people struggle to make ends meet. It is also important to remember that trusting staff is not a fraud control. Systems do not commit fraud, people do. Public entities need to ensure that they have the right systems in place."
Post-election survey of PSA members (December 2011)
Following the 2011 General Election, PSA members were surveyed on their views of the PSA election campaign. Questions on political neutrality and awareness of election year guidance were included, and we have written a short report analysing this section. The report has been sent to the State Services Commissioner for his information and you can read the report here
The 2011 corruption perceptions index
New Zealand’s public servants can be proud of being perceived as the least corrupt in the world. Transparency International recently published the Corruption Perception Index for 2011, in which New Zealand sits at the very top, narrowly beating Denmark, Finland and Sweden. You can view the results here and access data and analyses of corruption indicators at the Transparency International website
Fraud awareness in the public sector (2011)
The Auditor-General has recently released findings of a survey into fraud awareness in the public sector. All in all, it reinforces the perception of the high integrity of the NZ public sector. An overview is available here
and a detailed report is available here
. Respondents come from the public service, state sector, District Health Boards & local government as well as tertiary institutions and schools A report that presents findings by sector will be published in due course.
State Services Commission's ethics framework (2010)
Ethics network volunteers worked with us to provide feedback to the State Services Commission on guidance material for public servants. We’d like to formally thank those volunteers for their time and energy.
Please visit the SSC website
to see the new resources.
Wellington-based Ethics Network members met on 8 February 2010 to discuss guidance on political neutrality.
PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott introduced the session and spoke of the guidance from the State Services Commission. In our view this guidance is not clear and does not place enough emphasis on human rights and freedom of expression. PSA Solicitor, Catherine McNamara, explained how advice from a department may even breach the NZ Bill of Rights Act.
You can access the powerpoint presentations here:
Political Neutrality in the Public Service and the NZ Bill of Rights Act 199
The group then considered what guidance PSA should provide to its members, and how best to promulgate this guidance. We developed some good initial steps, received good feedback from the group on how best to structure the advice, and agreed that the Journal, PSA website, a factsheet and incorporation of the principles into our delegate development training modules would be very good places to start. Once we have our online forum up and running, we will invite other ethics network members to discuss these ideas further.
Relationship between ministers and public servants
by political scientist and public policy professor Richard Mulgan explores the relationships between ministers and senior public servants in an Australian context.
For the good of others
In a New Statesman (UK) article
, Peter Wilby asks whether the public sector ethos is on its last legs.
Public sector ethos
Research from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation finds that public sector ethos makes a real difference in the delivery of public services. See page 16 of their report
Research in Public Policy
Ethics advisory service
In Australia the Ethics Advisory Service is available to all Australian Public Service (APS) employees who want advice on ethical issues in the workplace and on how to make sound decisions around these issues.It contains lots of useful information, publications and videos. Check it out here
Forum on public sector ethics, (June 24, 2010)
To launch the PSA Ethics Network, former PSA president Colin Hicks spoke at members’ forum in Wellington on public sector ethics. Colin was course co-ordinator in public sector ethics at Victoria University School of Government. Read Colin Hicks’ paper here
Social media policy
We came across this short video
for staff of the Department of Justice (Victoria, Australia) and reckon it very usefully describes the key elements of social media rules for most employees, particularly state servants.
We’d love to know what you think; email email@example.com with your thoughts.