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Managing conflicts of interest and confidentiality​​

​It’s important that everyone in your agency behaves ethically. Conflicts of interest should be properly identified and transparently managed.

All agency staff, contractors, consultants and volunteers have a duty to put the public interest above their personal or private interests when carrying out their official duties.

Conflict of interest declarations and confidentiality agreements

All agency staff that are actively involved in a procurement activity, or could influence the process or the outcome of a procurement, must complete and sign a conflict of interest declaration and a confidentiality agreement.

This includes:

  • the procurement team (staff, contractors and consultants)
  • the evaluation panel
  • consultants asked to advise the team
  • anyone involved in making a recommendation
  • anyone involved in approving a recommendation or making an important decision
  • anyone making a financial approval for the procurement.

Senior leaders who provide sign-off but don't otherwise influence the process don't need to complete a declaration unless your agency has a different policy.

Team members should sign a declaration as soon as they're appointed to the team. People making financial approvals or other key decisions can sign a declaration at the time they're asked to make the decision.

Declarations need to be revisited regularly and checked once the supplier has been chosen.

How conflicts of interest can arise

A conflict of interest can arise through a relationship, an activity or strong personal views.

An employee has a conflict of interest if, as part of their work duties, they’re required to deal with:

  • a relative or close personal friend
  • an organisation, club, society or association they’re a member of
  • a person who is their community or church leader
  • a person or organisation they:
    • have a professional or legal obligation to
    • have a business interest or own property with
    • owe money to
    • previously worked for, or currently work for (secondary employment).

An agency employee could also have a conflict of interest if they’re given something from someone who could benefit from their decisions, eg:

  • a gift
  • an invitation to lunch, dinner or a sporting event
  • free or subsidised travel or accommodation
  • any other sort of benefit, including money.

A conflict can also arise if a person holds strong personal views on an issue their agency is considering, eg political views or religious beliefs.

Managing conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest that’s not properly managed could seriously undermine the procurement’s integrity and lead to complaints, challenges or an agency’s decision being overturned.

When a conflict of interest has been ignored, improperly acted on or influenced actions or decision-making, the conduct (not the conflict itself) can be seen as misconduct, abuse of office or even corruption.

Conflicts that are identified must be reported to the manager in charge of the activity. The conflict and the process for managing it must be recorded in writing.

Conflicts of interest can be managed by:

  • restricting the person’s further involvement in the matter
  • engaging an independent third party to oversee all or part of the process and verify its integrity
  • removing the person with the conflict from working on the procurement
  • the person giving up the private interest that created the conflict
  • the person resigning from their position with the agency – this should only be considered if the conflict of interest can’t be resolved in any other workable way.