The basics

A conflict of interest is a situation where the responsibilities you have in your work for a public organisation are affected by an interest or relationship you have in your private life.

Having a conflict of interest does not necessarily mean you have done anything wrong. It all depends on how you manage it. You need to ask yourself not just whether the interest or relationship means you are biased, but also whether someone looking in from the outside could have reasonable grounds to think you might be.

The “rules” for managing conflicts of interest in the public sector are generally stricter than in the private sector. If you work for a public organisation, the public needs to have confidence that any decisions you make:

  • are made impartially and for the right reasons; and
  • are not influenced by personal interests or ulterior motives.

Any decisions about conflicts of interest should take into account the core public service values:

  • integrity;
  • impartiality
  • trustworthiness;
  • respect; and
  • responsiveness.