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Conflict of Interest Management: Policy Framework for the Public Service

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Practice Advice on Human Resource Management

Conflict of Interest Management: Policy Framework for the Public Service (OECD)

Summary Advice: The OECD advises that governments should design a coherent and consistent approach to managing conflict of interest situations in the political, administrative and legal spheres.

Main Points: The OECD list the following key elements:

  • The general features of conflict of interest situations which have potential to put organizational and individual integrity at risk need to be clearly defined. Officials need to provide a clear and realistic description of what circumstances and relationships can led to a conflict of interest situation. The general description needs to be consistent with the idea that there may be situations in which private interests and affiliations of public officials may conflict with his/her duties.
  • Specific occurrences of unacceptable conflict of interest situations need to be identified; specific and clear examples of situations should be provided for individuals in high – risk areas such as public-private sector interface, government procurement, regulatory and inspectorial functions, and government contracting.
  • The conflict of interest policy needs to be supported by organisational strategies and practices, and clear procedures must be followed to identify, manage and resolve conflict of interest situations.
  • Public administration leaders need to be committed to the implementation of the conflict of interest policy. Public officials need to be informed about what is required of them in relation to identifying and declaring conflict of interest situations.
  • Public administration leaders and officials need to increase awareness in order to ensure compliance and prevent conflict of interest situations from happening. The policy framework needs to be clear on what is expected from public officials when dealing with conflict of interest situations and decision-making needs to be transparent, and organizations need to take responsibility for the effective application of their conflict of interest policy.
  • The conflict of interest policy needs to be published regularly, and personnel need to be reminded of the application of the policy in changing circumstances. Guidebooks on rules and procedures should be made readily available.
  • Public administration officials need to develop partnerships with stakeholders, including contractors, clients, sponsors and the community.
  • Experience and previous practices need to be taken into account when developing and evaluating conflict of interest policy.
  • High risk areas need to be reviewed for potential conflict of interest situations.
  • Conflict of interest policies and procedures need to be redeveloped and readjusted as needed. Preventive measures that deal with emergent conflict situations should be put in place.
  • Administrative officials should strive to develop an open organisational culture where dealing with conflict of interest matters can be freely raised and discussed.
  • Officials need to provide clear procedures for establishing a conflict of interest offence, and define consequences for non-compliance with conflict of interest policy. Consequences may involve disciplinary measures/sanctions for abuse of office, or prosecution for a corruption offence. Management measures could include retroactive cancellation of affected decisions and tainted contracts, and exclusion of beneficiaries – whether corporations, individuals, or associations – from future processes.
  • A monitoring mechanism needs to be developed to detect breaches of policy and take into account any gain or benefit that resulted from the conflict. The monitoring mechanism can consist of internal and external control and oversight as well as a complaint-handling mechanism.

Source: OECD (2007). OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service: Report on Implementation at: (accessed 3 January 2013).

Page Created By: Khilola B. Zakhidova on 3 January 2013. Updated by Ian Clark on 5 January 2013. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.


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