The State Services Commissioner, Iain Rennie, today commented on State Services agencies' practice around the acceptance of gifts and hospitality.
“After reviewing the registers of a range of State Services agencies my view is that many agencies demonstrate a very clear and proper focus on limiting the acceptance of gifts and hospitality, in the interests of avoiding any implications of undue influence or conflicts of interest.
“However, I do have concerns about a number of instances where some agencies do not appear to have followed what I regard as appropriate practices, particularly around the acceptance of event-based hospitality unrelated to their core business.
“SSC will be raising these matters with the relevant agencies to make sure that they are clear about what is expected.
“These instances have clearly not met the standards I and New Zealanders expect of an impartial State Services. There has already been public comment about some of the entries on the Treasury’s register of gifts, benefits and hospitality to this effect.
“I did have concerns about these practices and I am pleased to see that, following a review by an independent auditor, the Secretary to the Treasury has strengthened the Treasury’s gifts and hospitality policy to provide clearer guidance and support for staff.
“SSC has been consulted during this process and I am satisfied that the policy aligns with SSC guidance.
“Overall, although agencies have different constituencies and ways of doing business, there are underlying principles that need to drive policy and practice across the State Services.
“Over the next quarter, SSC will work with agencies to re-emphasise the importance of implementing gifts policies and adopting practices that are consistent with my expectations and the principles of the State Services Code of Conduct. These are set out in the Standards of Integrity and Conduct and the accompanying guidance. The Office of the Auditor General also provides useful guidance on these matters”, Iain Rennie said.