Developing a strategy
NSW Government agencies are required to implement minimum standards for the acceptance of gifts and benefits, including a policy for managing gifts and benefits. Part 6 of the Office of Local Government's Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW also contains requirements for managing gifts and benefits.
Complex explanations of different types of gifts, monetary threshold requirements and registration rules can be confusing and lead to opportunities for misinterpretation, so policies need to be clear.
An effective gifts and benefits policy is one that is easy to follow, with provisions that take into account the nature of the organisation’s core business and its operating environment. When developing a gifts and benefits policy, organisations should carefully consider whether any gifts or benefits can properly be received and, if so, in what circumstances they can be retained. An agency’s gifts and benefits policy would ideally:
- be consistent with the organisation’s code of conduct
- clearly define terms such as “gifts”, “benefits” and “token gifts”
- include key foundation principles or statements such as, “Staff cannot solicit or accept gifts, benefits or hospitality that could reasonably be perceived as an attempt to influence them.”
- require staff to report all gifts or benefits received or offered
- provide a set of criteria for decisions about the acceptance of gifts and benefits
- require the acceptance of gifts to be recorded in a gifts registry along with relevant details such as the gift’s value, the circumstances surrounding the offering and acceptance of the gift, the public official’s relationship to the provider of the gift, any potential conflict of interest issues, and managerial decisions about treatment of the gift and the reasons for any such decisions
- set out management’s responsibility to dispose of, or otherwise deal with, gifts and benefits surrendered by staff
- include sanctions for any breach of the policy and procedures.
Public officials should receive training about the policy (especially at the commencement of employment, and then at regular intervals, as required).
For further information about the management of gifts and benefits, see:
- NSW Ombudsman’s Gifts and Benefits Fact Sheet
- NSW Public Service Commission's Minimum Standards for Behaving Ethically
- NSW Office of Local Government’s Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW
- ICAC’s report on the Investigation into allegations of corrupt conduct in the provision of security products and services (Operation Tilga), September 2013
- ICAC’s report on the Investigation into allegations that staff from a number of local councils and other public authorities accepted secret benefits from suppliers (Operation Jarek), October 2012.