Statement of business ethics

Introduction

In the course of carrying out our responsibilities, the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has dealings with many organisations, including the private sector, other government agencies and non-government organisations. These dealings include purchasing goods and services, contracting out activities that would otherwise have been done by OEH, regulation, and entering into partnerships to undertake particular activities.

OEH is committed to conducting its business affairs on a sound commercial and ethical basis in a manner consistent with NSW Government and OEH policies. Accordingly, OEH expects high standards of ethical behaviour from its employees, contractors, consultants and partners. These expectations are detailed in the Code of Ethical Conduct (09651ethicalconduct.pdf file, 89KB).

OEH will look to service providers who share our ethical values. We value organisations with a commitment to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and fairness in all of their dealings. In return, organisations can expect that OEH's dealings with them will reflect the same principles.

In addition, OEH is particularly concerned that its employees, contractors, consultants and partners respect the environment and wherever possible encourage sustainable practices in the use of resources and waste management. We look to the organisations we deal with to demonstrate a similar respect and to adopt sustainable practices.

A common understanding of our ethical standards encourages a fair and productive relationship in our business dealings. It also helps to promote and maintain public confidence in OEH's integrity, and trust in the way we do business and spend public monies.

This Statement of Business Ethics provides guidance about OEH's ethical values and what we expect of other organisations when we do business. The ethical standards are not an additional requirement. They are an integral part of sound commercial practice.

Key business principles

The principle of best value for money is the basis for all of OEH's business relationships with organisations supplying goods and services. Best value for money does not automatically mean the lowest price. OEH will balance all relevant factors, including cost, quality, reliability, sustainability, experience and timeliness in determining true value for money.

Achieving value for money includes ensuring that all our business relationships are honest, ethical, fair and consistent. Our business dealings will be transparent and open to public scrutiny wherever possible.

We are committed to the purchase of all goods and services through established NSW Government contracts systems. In selecting an organisation with which to do business, OEH will place a high weighting on environment protection considerations such as how the organisation will respect the environment in its activities and its sustainable practices in the use of resources and in waste management.

A component of OEH's work involves interaction with Aboriginal people and aspects of this work are contracted out. OEH requires that where, as part of its work with us, an organisation interacts with Aboriginal people, that interaction is conducted on the basis of cultural understanding and without discrimination.

What you can expect from us

OEH will ensure that its policies, procedures and practices related to leasing, hiring, tendering, contracting, licensing, sponsorships, commercial partnerships or alliances, and the purchase of goods or services are consistent with best practice, Government policies and the highest standards of ethical conduct.

Our staff are bound by the agency's Code of Ethical Conduct (09651ethicalconduct.pdf file, 89KB).

When doing business with an organisation, OEH staff are accountable for their actions and are expected to:

  • use public resources effectively and efficiently
  • deal fairly, honestly and ethically with all individuals and organisations
  • avoid any conflicts of interest (whether real or perceived).

All OEH procurement activities are guided by the following core business principles:

  • All potential suppliers will be treated with impartiality and fairness and given equal access to information and opportunities to submit bids.
  • All procurement activities and decisions will be fully and clearly documented to provide an effective audit trail and allow for effective scrutiny and performance review of contracts.
  • Energy-efficient equipment, products with recycled content and environmentally friendly products will be purchased wherever reasonably possible.
  • Tenders will not be called unless OEH has a firm intention to proceed to contract.
  • OEH will not improperly disclose confidential or proprietary information.

OEH is committed to the NSW Government Procurement Policy and associated codes of practice.

What we ask of you

We require all providers of goods and services to observe the following principles when doing business with OEH:

  • Help OEH prevent unethical practices in our business relationships
  • Comply with OEH's procurement policies and procedures
  • Declare actual or perceived conflicts of interest
  • Act ethically, fairly and honestly in all dealings with OEH
  • Refrain from engaging in collusive practices, including offering OEH employees inducements, gifts or incentives that might appear to be designed to improperly influence their conduct
  • Comply with privacy legislation in relation to personal information obtained through your dealings with OEH or work undertaken for OEH
  • Take all reasonable steps to prevent disclosure of confidential OEH information
  • Refrain from publicly discussing OEH business or information obtained through your involvement with OEH
  • Refrain from making comments or statements that would lead anyone to believe that you are representing OEH
  • Comply with all the on-site occupational health and safety requirements
  • Provide accurate and reliable advice and information
  • Deliver quality and value for money
  • In dealing with Aboriginal people, act without discrimination and on the basis of informed cultural understanding
  • Respect the environment, comply with environmental laws and act sustainably in the use of resources and waste management.

Why is compliance important?

By complying with our Statement of Business Ethics, you will be able to advance your business objectives fairly. It will also prepare your organisation for dealing with the ethical requirements of other public sector agencies, if you choose to do business with them. You should also be aware of the consequences of not complying with OEH's ethical requirements. Demonstrated corrupt or unethical conduct could lead to:

  • termination of contracts
  • termination of business relationships and partnerships
  • loss of future work
  • loss of reputation
  • investigation for corruption
  • referral for criminal investigation

Practical guidance notes

Incentives, gifts, benefits

In general, OEH insists that its staff not accept gifts, benefits, travel or hospitality offered to them during the course of their work. You should not offer such 'incentives' to OEH staff. Any form of gift or benefit offered to OEH employees to influence the way they do work will be reported immediately under OEH policies and procedures. These forms of gifts cannot be kept by staff; they are recorded and either destroyed or passed on to charity, as appropriate. Under no circumstances should cash be offered to OEH employees.

An exception to the above rule are gifts or benefits that are essentially token or constitute moderate acts of hospitality. Gifts of nominal value such as inexpensive pens, notepaper or key rings that are promotional material may be accepted by staff. Meals should only be provided to OEH staff if they are clearly part of a working session and the cost is minimal.

Contracting employees

All contracted and sub-contracted employees are expected to comply with the agency's Statement of Business Ethics. If you employ sub-contractors in your work for OEH, please make them aware of this statement and our expectation that they will abide by it.

Interaction with Aboriginal people

OEH values the contributions of Aboriginal people in the management of natural and cultural heritage and respects the cultural norms of Aboriginal people in consultation and decision-making. All people working with, for or on behalf of OEH are expected to interact with Aboriginal people in accord with this approach. If you are uncertain about how to deal with an issue, ask the OEH officer who organised your contract for advice.

Equal employment opportunity

OEH is committed to equal employment opportunity (EEO) and fair employment practices. When dealing with OEH staff, contractors/consultants need to observe these principles.

Work health and safety

OEH is committed to promoting the work health of its staff and to preventing all work-related injuries and illness. Contractors/consultants will be informed of relevant safety requirements before entering a site, and are required to comply.

Intellectual property rights

In business relationships with OEH, parties must respect each other's intellectual property rights and formally negotiate any access, licence or use of intellectual property.

Confidentiality

All OEH information should be treated as confidential unless its use and/or disclosure is clearly authorised. If in doubt, ask the OEH officer who organised your contract for advice.

Use of OEH equipment, resources and information

OEH equipment, resources and information should only be used for authorised purposes relating to work for OEH.

Conflicts of interest

All OEH staff are required to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. You are also expected to advise OEH of any potential conflict of interest.

Alcohol and drugs

No person should enter the OEH work site or return to work if they are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that could impair their work or endanger them or others.

Bullying, harassment and discrimination

OEH considers workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination unacceptable. It will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Secondary and post-separation employment of OEH staff

OEH staff require written approval to accept secondary employment outside the agency. Approval depends on whether the job could have an adverse impact on work with OEH and whether any potential issues of conflict of interest can be managed. The Code of Ethical Conduct (09651ethicalconduct.pdf file, 89KB) also asks staff to avoid allowing decisions and actions to be influenced by plans for future employment outside OEH. Similarly, if former OEH staff are employed by an organisation with a business relationship to OEH, they cannot use or disclose confidential or sensitive information acquired while working with OEH.

Opportunities, tenders and contracts

For further information see current tender opportunities and contract guidelines.

OEH has some preferred tenderer policies contained in Section 1 of the agency's Procurement Manual. For these and other information on procurement, refer to the manual.

Breach of OEH's business ethical standards

Any concerns about a possible breach of OEH's business ethical standards or a possible breach by an OEH employee of the Code of Ethical Conduct (09651ethicalconduct.pdf file, 89KB) should be reported to the Corporate Governance Branch, either in writing or by telephone.

Page last updated: 16 October 2013