Corruption can happen here
17 March 2011
All State servants will feel let down by a former colleague convicted this week of corrupt use of information in return for cash and other personal benefits. The ACC property manager comes from a professional group very exposed to corruption. Officials with procurement responsibilities exercise discretions which can result in substantial advantage to businesses selected as government suppliers. There are too many examples worldwide were purchasing decisions reflect payments made to decison-makers. The judge sentencing Mason referred to the harm this incident does to good government and an unquantifiable loss reflected in the eroding of confidence in New Zealand’s corruption-free status.
Agencies can bring this sort of situation upon themselves. “The way we do things around here” reflects the expectations of senior leaders. If there is little focus on integrity, if agency policies can be disregarded, and if rules on the acceptance and public disclosure of gifts and hospitality are not taken seriously, opportunists will maximise their opportunities.
Understanding the code of conduct sets out the State Services’ Commissioner’s expectation:
“There will usually be perceptions of influence or personal benefit if we accept gifts, hospitality or ‘quid pro quo’ exchanges of favours. We must not seek or accept favours from anyone, or on behalf of anyone, who could benefit from influencing us or our organisation. Organisations’ policies on accepting gifts and hospitality vary, depending on their business. In all cases, it is expected that gifts will only be accepted following a transparent process of declaration and registration. To avoid misperceptions, it is essential that the process is public.”