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Survey of Integrity and Conduct in the State Services

19 August 2014

Survey of Integrity and Conduct in the State Services

The State Services Commission (SSC) today published the report of the 2013 Integrity and Conduct Survey of the State Services.

“The New Zealand State services is rated highly internationally for its standards of integrity and conduct and is considered one of the most transparent public services in the world,” said SSC’s Chief Legal Advisor Gordon Davis.

“Sustaining New Zealand’s high international standing for integrity requires us to work constantly to maintain and strengthen our performance as a politically neutral, high integrity, and professional State services,” said Mr Davis.

The Survey’s findings are drawn from 13,395 State servants in 40 randomly selected agencies including Public Service Departments, District Health Boards, Crown agents and Crown Entities and Crown Entity companies. Previous Integrity and Conduct surveys were conducted by the Commission in 2010 and 2007.

The 2013 survey asked State servants about their perceptions of integrity and behaviours of colleagues, leaders and managers, attributes of the workplace that support a high integrity culture, access to advice and guidance and the promotion of integrity in their agency.

The survey’s results affirm the high standards of integrity and conduct that the New Zealand State services are known for, while also identifying areas for improvement.

State servants rate the integrity of their colleagues and managers highly and are proud to work for their agencies.

The survey reports negligible levels of bribery being observed and very low levels of other types of improper behaviour (such as making decisions to favour certain groups or people).

“Most State servants are aware of their agency’s code of conduct, which is positive, but more focus on ethics might improve knowledge and understanding of other sources of guidance and what agencies can do to operate an effective whistle blowing process,” Mr Davis said.

SSC has used international research on whistle blowing in the survey to help identify where we can improve in this area.

The survey shows that 25% of respondents report being the subject of bullying or harassment in the past year. Colleagues and managers were reported as the people most often doing the bullying.

“Although this may appear to be an improvement on the 2010 results, this number is still too high,” Mr Davis said.

One percent of respondents reported being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. This is down from 5% in 2010 and 7% in 2007.

“It is important that all staff work in a safe and professional environment where they can make a positive difference,” Mr Davis said. “Anything less is unacceptable”.

Worksafe New Zealand and MBIE have recently issued guidance for all New Zealand workplaces on preventing and dealing with bullying. The State Services Commission is working to develop guidelines for agencies and State servants on positive workplace behaviours.

While staff of DHBs rate satisfaction with their work the highest of all survey respondents, the overall DHB results are disappointing in comparison to that of the other agency types.

“The Ministry of Health will be taking the survey results up with the District Health Board chairs and chief executives and will support them to strengthen the systems and culture that support high standards of behaviour,” said Mr Davis.

Copies of the Report have been provided to the chief executives of State services agencies so they can consider the findings and what they need to do within their agency in response.

“SSC will continue to work with chief executives and State servants to encourage high standards of integrity and conduct and deal decisively with any behaviour that breaches the Standards of Integrity and Conduct,” Mr Davis said.

The 2013 Integrity and Conduct survey uses a different, more detailed set of questions than previous surveys designed for the New Zealand State services environment.

The report is available on the SSC website www.ssc.govt.nz/integrity-and-conduct-survey-2013-report


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