Wednesday, June 19, 2024

OAG: Council employee conflict of interest management advice

The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) has published advice for councils on how to best manage conflicts of interest involving their employees.

“Councils need the trust and confidence of the communities they serve to operate effectively,” the OAG stated in advice published to its website today.

“One way to maintain this trust and confidence is to effectively manage both perceived and actual conflicts of interest.”

Earlier this year, the Office selected four councils of various size and location as case studies to highlight good practice and areas for improvement.

“We saw many examples of good practice. All four councils we looked at had a reasonably up-to-date and clear policy in place. Most councils we looked at had processes in place for their employees to declare conflicts. However, we saw situations where there were multiple, and sometimes conflicting, processes. It’s important to consider how these processes work together as a system,” the Office stated.

It said Council policies and procedures needed to be supported by training and ongoing internal communication.

“All staff should be clear about what’s expected of them, and how they can declare their interests.”

“Having robust policies and procedures is not enough to support effective conflict of interest management.

“Organisations also need to consider how they provide the right culture to support employees to appropriately respond to conflicts of interest. Senior leaders in councils need to model behaviour expected of employees when it comes to declaring and managing conflicts of interest.”

The full OAG advice article can be accessed at this Inside Government News link.

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