- Title page
- State Services Commissioner's Foreword
- Purpose of this document
- Part 1: State Services Commissioner's role
- Part 2: Scope of State Services Commissioner's interest
- Part 3: Variations between Crown entities
- Part 4: Preliminary thoughts on the minimum standards of integrity and conduct
- Part 5: Key Questions
Part 2: Scope of State Services Commissioner's interest
10 The State Sector Act 1988 gives the Commissioner the power to set minimum standards of "integrity and conduct", but does not define what is meant by "integrity" or "conduct". Clearly, the Commissioner's mandate would be very broad if "conduct' were to be interpreted to mean actions or behaviours of any kind.
11 The Commissioner's interest in the conduct of Crown entities in fact extends only to how well Crown entities act as instruments of executive government, and in how their actions (or inactions) affect the public's trust not only in each entity but also in government as a whole. The minimum standards of integrity and conduct in the Commissioner's domain relate only to the behaviour or actions of Crown entity board members, statutory officers and other employees that impinge directly on these interests.
12 To avoid any doubt, the minimum standards that the Commissioner may set following the discussions with entities would not address:
- the standards that people in general should follow (whether laid down by law or developed through social norms)
- general employer obligations (e.g. EEO requirements) or general employee obligations that should be covered in the entity's own policies (e.g. concerning workplace relations and the workplace environment)
- professional standards governing particular professional groups
- organisational culture in a generic sense - this is an internal matter for each entity, to which all staff, managers and board members can contribute in different ways.
13 Further, any standards that may be set by the Commissioner would be premised on the recognition of three fundamental principles and enduring realities of New Zealand's system of public administration:
- the separation of powers. Crown entities have been set up to operate at arms length from the Crown even though they are part of the executive branch of government. The Cabinet Manual writes as follows:
- establishing such bodies, over a very long period, Parliament has recognised and reaffirmed that much public power should not be concentrated. It should be allocated to distinct bodies with varying degrees of independence from the executive. This separation and independence may help ensure, for instance, a judicial independence of decision, equitable distribution of funds, the pursuit of commercial profit and business efficiency, or effective and credible processes of scrutiny and supervision".
- the rule of law. The Government and agencies of the State must act within the rule of law. Procedural justice and consistency will often be important aspects of the activity of government agencies, particularly regulatory activities. People should be able to go about their business expecting that their legal rights will be upheld.
- the principle of democracy. The public administration system should reflect the democratic nature of our government. Legislation, appropriation and scrutiny over the use of powers and resources granted by the House should be made by democratically elected leaders - Ministers and MPs. In turn, they are politically accountable for the way powers and resources are used.