Integrity and conduct

Last updated: 20 July 2015

SSC's integrity and conduct programme aims to builds trust by supporting the institutional integrity of agencies and trustworthiness of State servants.

The State Services Commission has three main roles in leading the State sector in this area:

  • Setting standards of integrity and conduct that apply to most State Services agencies;
  • Providing advice and guidance to State Services employees on matters of integrity and conduct and;
  • Investigating matters of integrity and conduct in the State Services

Standards of Integrity and Conduct

The State Services Commissioner is responsible for setting standards of integrity and conduct across most of the State Services. He has done this in a code of conduct for the State Services. The New Zealand State Services is regarded as one of the most honest and transparent in the world. Every State servant has a part to play in acting with integrity to maintain New Zealanders' confidence in the State Services. The code of conduct provides the basis for ongoing trust in the State Services.

The code of conduct has been applied to Public Service departments, to Crown entities within the Commissioner's mandate, and to many Crown entity subsidiaries. Staff in those organisations must comply with the standards in the code.

In 2007, 2010 and 2013, we conducted a survey of integrity and conduct across the State services. This survey measures State servants' perceptions of trustworthiness, integrity and conduct within their agencies. This information is important for monitoring and maintaining high levels of integrity and good conduct in the State Services. Here are the results of the 2013 survey.

Advice and Guidance

SSC provides advice and guidance to agencies on how to interpret and implement the code of conduct in their organisations. 'Understanding the Code of Conduct' explains the standards in the code and what they mean for State servants in practice. 'Implementing the Code of Conduct' provides practical guidance to agencies on what they should do to embed the code into the culture and practices of their organisations.

From time to time SSC provides guidance on specific matters of integrity and conduct. It has a particular interest in safeguarding the political neutrality of the State Services; guidance on this topic can be found here). We have also issued guidance on State servants' interaction with social media which reinforces the need to adhere to the standards in the code of conduct when interacting online. State servants interacting with select committees should familiarise themselves with specific guidance on this topic.

We also maintain a 'helpdesk' to assist in the interpretation of the code of conduct and provide advice on integrity matters. State services agencies or individual State servants should feel free to contact us for advice by email at or by phone (04) 495 6600.

Investigating matters of integrity and conduct

The State Services Commissioner may conduct investigations and make reports on matters of integrity and conduct across most of the State Services. These inquiries and reviews provide assurance to both the government and the public that the activities of agencies and individual State servants are being carried out within the law and within the bounds of proper conduct.

There is a relatively high threshold for the involvement of the Commissioner in individual matters of misconduct. In the first instance, individual chief Executives are responsible for behaviour within their own organisations.

Related guidance

Bribery and corruption

Where to report serious fraud, bribery and corruption

Anti-Corruption training - Transparency New Zealand in partnership with The Serious Fraud Office and BusinessNZ

Saying no to bribery and corruption (2013)

City of London Police video on bribery and corruption

Bullying and harassment

WorkSafe New Zealand Best Practice Guidelines: Preventing and responding to Workplace Bullying

Creating a Positive Work Environment - Respect and Safety in the Public Service Workplace

Conflicts of Interest

Board Appointment and Induction Guidelines (2012)

Managing conflicts of interest: guidance for public entities (2007)

Disclosure of Chief Executive Expenses

Chief executive expense, gifts and hospitality disclosures
Discretionary expenditure Controlling sensitive expenditure: Guidelines for public entities (2007)

Negotiations between political parties to form a government: guidelines on support from the State sector (2014)

Guidance for the 2014 Election Period: State Servants, Political Parties, and Elections

Integrity and conduct survey

Integrity and Conduct Survey 2013

New Zealand State Services Integrity and Conduct Survey 2010 - Summary of Findings

New Zealand State Services Integrity and Conduct Survey 2007 - Summary of Findings

Open Government Partnership

Open Government Partnership

Political neutrality

Political neutrality guidance (2010)

Cabinet manual (2008)

Protected Disclosures (whistleblowing)

Protected Disclosures Act 2000

Select Committees

Officials and Select Committees – Guidelines (2007)

Sexual Harassment

Prevention and Response to Sexual Harassment Policy Guideline

Sexual Harassment Reporting Framework 

Sexual Harassment Checklist (MS Word, 97KB)

Sexual Harassment Role Card (PDF, 51KB)

Where to report sexual harassment: Human Rights Commission

How to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment                                                      

See also "Bullying and harassment" above

Social media

Principles for interaction with social media (2010)

Social media (2011)

Standards of integrity and conduct

Launch of the State Service Commissioner’s Code of Conduct (2007)

Code of conduct for the State Services (Standards of Integrity and Conduct) (2007)

Understanding the code of conduct - Guidance for State servants (2007)

Questions and answers about the code of conduct (2014)

Organisations covered by the State Services Commissioner's Standards of Integrity and Conduct (2007)

Implementing the Code of Conduct - Resources for Organisations (2007)