Transcript: Sensitive expenditure: Integrity

Transcript for a video about how to apply integrity when making decisions about sensitive expenditure.

Title: Office of the Auditor-General logo

Title: Sensitive expenditure: Integrity

Karin Lasthuizen, Victoria University of Wellington

We need to apply the principle that sensitive expenditure decisions should be made with integrity. I define integrity as the quality of acting in accordance with the relevant moral values and norms”. It shows that integrity goes well beyond the law and regulations and also involves the external factor of public judgment, and from employees and other stakeholders.

So, what does ‘with integrity’ mean?

First, be aware of the ethical dimension in all your decisions and actions. Ask yourself: what is the impact on people in and outside the organisation? For example, will others appreciate a decision to accommodate senior staff in more expensive rooms during business trips, or could the money be better used?

Second, ‘moral motivation’ means a commitment to act upon your moral values and principles and exercising power in a way that is true to the values, purposes, and duties of your organisation. Remind: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.

For integrity also moral judgment is needed: How do you apply ethical principles to particular cases? Regarding sensitive expenditure: make decisions where there can be no question about how the decision can be reached. This will also enable you to explain the sensitive expenditure in plain English to everyone inside and outside the organisation.

Fourth, moral character: Giving voice to your moral values and consistently behaving in keeping with agreed or accepted ethical principles. Doing the right thing, even if it is the hard thing - or the awkward thing – to do. Ask yourself: what is in the end more important to you – good behaviour or good performance? For example, We see more and more that public officials consistently refuse gifts for speaking engagements. Even though it looks awkward at the moment, over time it becomes a new standard.

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