GOOD GOVERNANCE IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR
The governing body should promote a culture where acting in the public interest at all times is the
norm. It should do this by taking the lead in establishing and living up to specific values for the
entity and its staff. These values should be easy to communicate and understand. They should be
over and above minimum legal requirements and should build on established principles for
behavior in public life, such as objectivity, selflessness, and honesty.
These principles reflect
public expectations about the conduct and behavior of entities, groups, and individuals who
manage public service provision and spend public money.
The governing body should stand as a role model (often referred to as the ³tone
keeping these values at the forefront of its own thinking and behavior and use them to guide its
decision making and other actions. The values can also be used to promote a culture of integrity
and collaboration throughout the entity through a number of mechanisms. These include their
definition and communication through codes of conduct, frequent staff consultation and
communication, exemplary behavior, and performance assessment and reward processes.
A2. Strong commitment to ethical values
Ethical values and standards should be embedded throughout an entity and should form the basis
for all its policies, procedures, and actions, as well as the personal behavior of its governing body
members and other staff.
Having a code of conduct for governing body members and staff is a key element of good
governance. Developing, reviewing, and communicating a code that illustrates what the values
mean in specific circumstances helps to make visible (a) how the entity operates; (b) how it embeds
its core values, such as by reflecting values in communications, processes, and behavior; and (c)
how it relates to its key stakeholders. Codes also help reassure stakeholders about the entity¶s
integrity and its commitment to ethics.
Conflicts can arise between the personal interests of individuals involved in making decisions and
the decisions that the governing body or employees need to make in the public interest. To ensure
continued integrity and avoid public concern or loss of confidence, governing body members and
staff should take steps to avoid or deal with any conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived.
Some entities have a separate ethics policy and code of conduct. In such cases, an entity¶s ethics
policy typically sets out values and principles while a code of conduct outlines standards of
behavior and practices.
It can be difficult to measure objectively factors affecting an entity¶s performance in leadership,
ethics, and culture, or to identify ethical problems before they manifest in organizational
performance. However, it is important that entities seek to understand and maintain their
performance in these areas. Useful evaluative approaches to gauge performance include staff
surveys, performance appraisals, administrative reviews, and leadership self
Stakeholders can also provide important feedback on how an entity is performing in leadership,
ethics, and culture. This can be solicited formally or be received through comments and complaints.
Complaints can form a vital part of feedback and should be handled and resolved efficiently,
effectively, and in a timely manner so that lessons learned are used to improve the performance,
both ethical and general, of the entity and its services.
The Nolan Principles
The Seven Principles of Public Life, www.learn-to-be-a-leader.com/nolan-principles.html