DCS is a central agency, driving customer and digital excellence across the whole of NSW government. We also provide services and advice around data, cyber, digital and behavioural insights to the whole of government, as well delivering customer and regulatory services to the citizens of NSW directly.
Our vision is to be the world’s most customer-centric government, where customers and communities can expect our services to be trusted, effective and easy no matter who they are, where they are or what they need.
Our aim at DCS is to play a critical role in lifting our customer and digital capabilities across government to better deliver on this vision. Our customers are at the centre, our people are at the heart of what we do, and we endeavour to always excel at collaboration across the sector. As a member of our team, no matter where you work, I see you critical to our success, and at the heart of how we can achieve success for our state.
Our Code of Ethics and Conduct (the Code) is designed to help all of us understand and know who we are, what we stand for and how we operate with each other, our sector colleagues and our customers. The Code may seem to read as quite formal in parts, but it’s reflective of taking our role as public servants seriously and providing clarity on what we can and can’t do.
With the government sector values of integrity, trust, service and accountability, and the Public Service Commission’s Code of Ethics and Conduct at its foundation, our Code is the ‘go-to’ document for how we work. It outlines how we:
- deliver outcomes to customers, making sure we consider the ethical foundations of our work
- role-model behaviour that promotes and maintains public confidence and trust in our services
- create and promote the best possible working environment for all of us at DCS.
Secretary, Department of Customer Service
Our Code of Ethics and Conduct is required reading for everyone upon joining DCS, including Service NSW employees. It is the essential guidance for who we are and how we work.
Each year, we ask our employees to make a declaration to ensure everyone understands and is up to date with the Code.
Why we need a Code
We are all responsible for our own actions. This Code identifies standards of behaviour and direction for all employees and anyone performing work for DCS no matter where or how we are working. It supports us to ask, ‘What is the right thing to do?’ and then to do it.
The Code is a practical guide, setting out public sector expectations and your responsibilities and provides crucial information for your day-to-day work.
It is consistent with the values of integrity, trust, service and accountability detailed in Part 2 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act) which establishes an ethical framework for a merit-based, apolitical and professional government sector.
Are your actions consistent with the ethical framework? Do a quick assessment by answering these questions:
- Integrity: Would your colleagues say you have considered the views of all stakeholders and customers and acted in the right way when making decisions, even if it was to your disadvantage?
- Trust: Would your actions, if they became public, build confidence in DCS and the public sector?
- Service: Would your customers say that your actions improve the quality of the services they receive?
- Accountability: Would your Leader and the Secretary say that your actions are in the public interest and comply with the law?
Seek advice from your Leader or appropriate senior colleague if you are unsure about how to implement these values in your role.
Our Statement of Business Ethics provides the ethical standards that apply to our vendors/suppliers and business partners. The Statement sets out the service principles that guide you in all your interactions with customers, whether internal or external. Please read this statement alongside our Customer Commitments:
- Easy to engage: Make it easy to access what I need. Make it simple for me to understand.
- Act with empathy: Show you understand my situation. Treat me fairly and with respect. Provide service in my time of need.
- Respect my time: Tell me what I need to know beforehand. Minimise the need for me to repeat myself. Make what I need to do straightforward.
- Explain what to expect: Be clear about what steps are involved. Contact me when I need to know something. Let me know what the outcomes could be.
- Resolve the situation: Be accountable for your actions. Be clear in decision-making. Reach an outcome.
- Engage the community: Listen to the community to understand our needs. Ask how we want services delivered.
Why we must act in the public interest
As a public sector employee, you must always act in the public interest. In other words, you are accountable to the public for your actions.
This means you need to treat everyone you have contact with in your work, including colleagues, equally without prejudice or favour, and with honesty, consistency and impartiality.
You also need to:
- place the public and DCS’s interests above your private interests
- uphold the law, the institutions of government and our democratic principles
- provide apolitical and non-partisan advice
- provide transparency and support public scrutiny
- be financially responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of all government resources.
Who must comply with this Code?
Everyone working for DCS must comply with this Code.
The Code applies whenever you are representing DCS, whether in your daily work, or during work-related activities such as conferences, functions, travelling for work or participating in training activities.
It also applies wherever you are working – from home, in another office, in the field or based in one DCS site – or how you are working – on the phone, Skype, using Teams or digital tools to communicate with colleagues or customers.
In certain circumstances, the Code may also apply to your activities outside of work, where there is a connection to your role.
Specifically, this Code applies to:
- all SEB Executives including the Secretary
- all employees, including Leaders and supervisors, whether employed on a permanent, temporary, casual, intern or cadetship basis
- all contractors and agency workers performing work for or on behalf of DCS
- any employee of another public sector agency on secondment to DCS
- work experience students and volunteers
- all vendors/suppliers, in addition to the Statement of Business Ethics and the Procurement Code of Conduct plan where relevant.
My ethical responsibilities
We must all work ethically. To work ethically means you must:
- act honestly
- treat each other with dignity and respect and demonstrate high standards of personal behaviour consistent with the ethical values of the government sector (integrity, trust, service, accountability)
- promote these values and ethical ways of working to your colleagues
- declare in writing any and all of your private interests that may be an actual or a perceived conflict of interest with your work
- work in a safe, responsible and effective manner that ensures not only your own safety but the safety of others
- comply with all instructions issued to protect your health and safety or the health and safety of others
- maintain the integrity and security of official documents and information, including when you are working remotely or from home
- not share internal knowledge that has not been made public with anyone
- clearly document reasons for your decisions
- comply with all organisational policies and procedures
- not let your work be influenced by a new job or an offer of a job
- report possible breaches of the GSE Act to your Leader or appropriate senior colleague
- always comply with the law and understand how relevant legislation impacts your work.
In addition to the above responsibilities, all Leaders and SEB 1 and above level employees must also:
- model ethical, efficient and safe work practices required of all public sector employees
- champion the implementation of the ethical values at work
- recognise and celebrate employee and team conduct that exemplifies these values
- be open, honest, respectful and comprehensive in your communication with all employees, including about standards of conduct and behaviour in the workplace
- ensure our workplace culture, practices and systems (including recruitment and promotion) are consistent with the ethical values
- ensure equity in employment and a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and bullying
- support the right of employees to raise workplace concerns, grievance complaints or allegations of discrimination, harassment and workplace bullying through internal and external processes, including the Positive and Productive Workplace Policy
- provide employees who report to you with information about the objectives and duties of their position
- allocate work fairly and ensure that employees have the resources and support required to do their job
- act promptly and with due process to prevent and address any breaches of this Code.
In addition to the above responsibilities, the Secretary and Heads of Agencies, including Chief Executive Officers, Chief Executives and Managing Directors, have responsibilities to:
- ensure the general conduct and management of the functions and activities of DCS or your agency accord with the government sector core values
- oversee the implementation of these values and make improvements to systems, processes and culture where necessary
- fulfil the obligations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (section 11) and report a complaint about a matter that concerns, or may concern, corrupt conduct.
My professional responsibilities
At work, we all expect a high standard of professionalism. To support this, you must:
- obey any lawful direction or instruction given to you
- present for work in a fit state and not attend work while under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating drugs
- not smoke in any of our work sites or enclosed public spaces managed by DCS or at any work-related functions
- use our Positive and Productive Workplace Policy to help resolve workplace grievances
- undertake your personal transactions with any of DCS agencies through DCS’ regular, public channels
- decline or disclose any gifts, benefits and hospitality offered and follow our Gifts and Benefits policy
- protect any confidential, personal and private data or information by following our information management policies
- make clear records of your work decisions and actions
- comply with the DCS ICT Acceptable use policy and understand your information security responsibilities
- practice high standards of health and safety by following our Work Health and Safety policy
- use public resources – money, property, equipment or supplies – efficiently and effectively and never use them for your personal benefit or for an unauthorised purpose
- identify, declare and manage conflicts of interest that arise from your private activities
- manage conflicts of interest in close personal relationships at work
- seek approval from your immediate Manager or Leader for any secondary employment prior to commencing the secondary employment
- seek approval from the Director Media before commenting publicly on the work of DCS
- if you maintain a relationship with someone who has left DCS, be careful to ensure you do not give them, or appear to give them, favourable treatment or access to departmental information, including customer information
- not meet or discuss your work with a person listed on the NSW Register of Third Party Lobbyists without approval of a senior executive
- should you become bankrupt, report it to the Secretary or the head of your agency
- should you be issued with a Court Attendance Notice, charged with or convicted of an offence which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment or more, report it to your Leader
- report corrupt conduct, maladministration, waste and contravention of government information via the links on the Reporting fraud and corruption page on the DCS intranet
- make an annual declaration that you commit to working ethically and that you understand and apply this Code of Ethics and Conduct in your work by completing the Commitment and Declaration of Interests form in myCareer
- make a declaration that you apply the Procurement Code of Conduct, Probity and Confidentiality when conducting any procurement within DCS.
What else does this Code cover?
This Code covers all aspects of our work. The next section provides information that will help you comply with the Code, understand our processes and find further information.
Managing workplace conflict
We all have a responsibility to contribute to a harmonious workplace. Sometimes though, there will be workplace tension. Our Positive and Productive Workplace Policy provides information on the steps you can take to resolve conflict with colleagues. Remember, it is not always necessary to begin the grievance process to resolve matters.
Speak to your Leader, refer to the DCS intranet for resources and information, and contact your HR Business partner if you need to.
Intellectual property and copyright
The copyright of material created by any of us in the course of our work belongs to DCS, even if the material was developed in our own time or at home. You must:
- seek permission from the Secretary or delegate before entering into any arrangements regarding the publication or disclosure of any research, articles, presentations or other materials produced as part of your work
- not use DCS’s intellectual property (including copyright) for private purposes without obtaining written permission from the Division that created the material.
Conflicts of interest
It is not necessarily wrong or unethical to have a conflict of interest. What is important is that the conflict of interest is identified, declared and managed appropriately.
Outside of work, you have the right to participate in political and community activities and to pursue personal interests, provided that:
- your involvement does not conflict with your responsibilities as a public sector employee to serve the government of the day in a politically neutral manner
- any conflict of interest that arises is dealt with in accordance with this Code and the DCS Conflict of Interest policy.
There are three different types of conflicts of interests that you need to understand:
- Actual – a real and direct conflict between your current duties and responsibilities and your existing private interests
- Potential – when you have private interests that could conflict with your work duties or responsibilities in the future
- Perceived – where it could be perceived by a third party (such as a customer, vendor/supplier or colleague), that your private interests could improperly influence the performance of your duties or responsibilities, whether or not this is in fact the case.
All three types of conflicts of interest are serious and you need to declare and manage any interests that may present a conflict for you. You may have complex conflicts of interest because of where you live and/or the nature of your current job, previous jobs or associations, and/or work situations where you deal with people you know outside of work.
Speak with your Leader about your personal circumstances and ensure that all actual, potential or perceived conflicts are disclosed and managed appropriately.
Our mandatory conflicts of interest training includes scenarios that will help you determine if you have any conflicts of interest and how to manage them. You must:
- complete the conflicts of interest training and complete your conflict of interest declaration when you commence working with DCS
- update your conflict of interest declaration annually, or earlier if new conflicts arise.
How I report behaviour that breaches the Code
At any point during your work, or even outside of your work, you may observe, become aware of or suspect another employee is acting contrary to this Code and/or other departmental policies and/or the sector’s ethical values.
It is your responsibility to raise the employee’s behaviour with your immediate Manager or Leader or report your concerns to the Chief Audit and Risk Officer or any member of the DCS Executive.
If you know of behaviour that breaches this Code and choose not to report it, you may come under suspicion yourself.
Protecting yourself when reporting suspected breaches
When you voluntarily report or disclose matters that you consider to be fraudulent or corrupt, you are protected by the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994. Under the Act, it is both a criminal offence and misconduct to make reprisals against an employee who makes a public interest disclosure.
To be protected under the Act, you must make your report as follows:
- internally – to the person or persons nominated in the DCS Fraud and Corruption Internal Reporting Policy or on the List of Disclosure Officers on our intranet
- externally – through any of the following agencies, depending on the nature of the disclosure:
- disclosures concerning corruption should be made to the Independent Commission Against Corruption
- disclosures concerning maladministration should be made to the NSW Ombudsman
- disclosures concerning serious and substantial waste of public money should be made to the Auditor-General
- disclosures concerning government information contravention should be made to the NSW Information Commissioner.
If you are unsure about whether you should report a situation or activity or which agency is best to disclose to, speak with our Chief Audit and Risk Officer.
Consequences of breaching the Code
All breaches of this Code and/or any conduct that is contrary to the government sector core values will be dealt with appropriately.
If you are found to have breached this Code, an authorised public service agency executive (such as the Secretary, a Deputy Secretary or an Executive Director) may take the following actions:
- terminate your employment without giving you an opportunity to resign
- terminate your employment after giving you an opportunity to resign
- impose a fine on you which may be deducted from your salary
- reduce your salary
- reduce your classification or grade
- assign you to a different role
- caution or reprimand you.
This Code builds on the Public Service Commission’s Code of Ethics and Conduct for NSW Government employees and is tailored to DCS operations.
The NSW Public Service Commission (PSC) provides many resources for public service employees including Behaving ethically: A guide for NSW government sector employees.
You can also seek assistance from the Department’s People & Culture team through your relevant HR business partner.
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This policy will be reviewed in June 2022.