The code of conduct's introductory statement
The introductory statement in Standards of Integrity and Conduct highlights the role of the State Services in supporting parliamentary democracy. It explains why the same standards of integrity should apply to everyone working for State Services organisations and indicates that the code of conduct is not, on its own, sufficient to ensure that everyone meets these standards. There is a need for all organisations to have policies and procedures that put the standards into practice. The introduction forms part of the code of conduct.
The definition of the State Services1 includes departments and Crown entities. However, the Crown entities that are subject to the State Services Commissioner's mandate2 to set minimum standards of integrity and conduct are categorised3 as:
- statutory entities (comprising independent Crown entities, autonomous Crown entities and Crown agents; but excluding tertiary education institutes, Crown research institutes, and their subsidiaries)
- Crown entity companies
- Crown entity subsidiaries
- school boards of trustees. (However, the code does not apply to school boards of trustees.)
The State Services Commissioner has applied the code to the organisations listed
Government is made up of three branches - the legislature, the judiciary and the executive. All organisations in the State Services form part of executive government. Regardless of whether an organisation is a department or any form of Crown entity, a Minister has responsibility for it and the organisation is accountable through that Minister to Parliament. This guidance refers to executive government responsibilities as a reminder of the part that State Services organisations play in the "whole of government". In the code of conduct, and in this guidance, a part of the State Services is referred to as an "organisation" instead of using the statutory term of "agency".
All departments and statutory Crown entities are required by statute to act with a spirit of service. The reference to the spirit of service in the Long Title to the State Sector Act4 reflects its importance. Public Service chief executives, who are appointed having regard to their willingness to imbue their employees with a spirit of service to the community5, must ensure that those employees then maintain concern for the public interest6.
Boards of statutory Crown entities are required to ensure that their organisation performs in a manner consistent with the spirit of service to the public7.
The standards set by the code of conduct relate to matters of integrity and conduct. Integrity is the inclusive and all-embracing description of these ethical requirements. The headings under which the standards have been grouped - Fair, Impartial, Responsible and Trustworthy - are indicative of integrity. Integrity itself is pervasive and implicit in all the standards.
Many organisations have values statements or express their service commitment in terms of principles and values. Obligations in the code of conduct to be Fair, Impartial, Responsible and Trustworthy should not detract from using these other arrangements also, to promote integrity.
The code of conduct recognises that the State Services is made up of a wide range of organisations. In some Crown entities and at junior levels in most organisations, there is little direct connection with Ministers and the political process. Where that is the case, explanations about standards of impartiality and political neutrality may have limited relevance. Those explanations are much more relevant for managerial staff and others with extensive contacts with Ministers. However, most of the code of conduct has direct and continuing application to everyone in the State Services.
Where the State Services Commissioner has applied the code, the "agency (including its employees) must comply"8. The conduct of everyone will be expected to reflect the standards. The boards of Crown entities and the chief executives of departments need to determine the extent to which people working for their organisation who are not employees should also be legally required to meet the standards.
Organisations are responsible for ensuring that integrity requirements form part of employment and contracting relationships (or in the case of volunteers and students, other agreements that give access to organisational resources). These need not necessarily require full compliance with the code of conduct. However, organisations must make sure that everybody working for them knows what is expected. Because professional ethics may also influence the way standards of integrity are managed, organisations should take these matters into account when setting out employment obligations.
Organisations will need to be continually alert to integrity concerns and to review and revise the way they give effect to the standards. In this way, by meeting the requirements of their organisations, everyone working in them will play their part in maintaining the integrity of the State Services.
Each organisation is encouraged to promote awareness of the code of conduct and the behavioural expectations that flow from it. The introduction to the code of conduct indicates that organisations must maintain policies and procedures by which they can give effect to the standards. Complying with the code of conduct includes meeting that requirement.
In satisfying this requirement to have appropriate policies and procedures that are consistent with the standards of the code of conduct, each organisation may develop additional or detailed provisions that are pertinent to its circumstances. This is the process, anticipated in the State Sector Act9, by which an organisation will issue its own code, incorporating the standards and building on them with detail of direct relevance to the work of the organisation.
1 State Sector Act 1988, section 2
2 Op. cit., section 57
3 Op. cit., section 2 and Crown Entities Act 2004, section 7(1)(a)-(d)
4 Op. cit., Long Title, paragraph (a)
5 Op. cit., section 35(12)(b)
6 Op. cit., section 56(3)
7 Crown Entities Act 2004, section 50
8 State Sector Act 1988, section 57A(1)
9 Op. cit., section 57(3)