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Clarification on conflicts of interest

26 July 2007

Some media sources have reported that the Auditor-General is behind calls for Government departments to hold registers of public servants' political and personal circumstances.

The Auditor-General Kevin Brady has made no statements to this effect.

Mr Brady said his report Managing conflicts of interest: Guidance for public entities, published in June this year, is the result of several months' work and discusses a set of principles and offers guidance on managing conflicts of interest. It brings together commentary from previous reports on individual inquiries, guidance publications for local government on their particular responsibilities, and other sources (listed in the report). It aims to provide a coherent source of advice and guidance for public entities as they develop their own policies and rules.

The main thrust of the report is that conflicts of interest need to be identified, disclosed, and managed.

The report does discuss the option used by many public and private organisations of using a register to record in writing declarations of interests as a way of identifying and disclosing potential conflicts of interest. Such registers are required by law for many public entities and are commonly focused on financial interests.

Our publication does not deal particularly with political views or affiliations nor does it suggest that these are matters that must be recorded in an interests register.

The State Services Commission has previously published detailed guidance for public servants on political neutrality, and how that affects the ability of public servants to hold and express political views and participate in political activities.

A link to our report is provided below:

http://www.oag.govt.nz/2007/conflicts-public-entities/

Page last updated: 26 July 2007

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