A model for ethical decision-making
Step 1: Identify and assess the situation
- What do I want to do?
- What are the facts and circumstances of the situation?
- Does it break the rules, the law, or is it inconsistent with government policy?
- Is it consistent with my obligations under the code of conduct?
- Is it consistent with my obligations under my professional code of ethics?
- What ethical principle or principles does it relate to and why? See Personal values, principles and beliefs and Public Sector Ethics Act 1994
- Who is affected and are other people involved?
Step 2: Look at the situation from a public sector standpoint
- What is my duty as a public official?
- What legislation, policies, procedures or guidelines are relevant?
- Who should I consult?
Step 3: Would my actions or decisions withstand public scrutiny?
- Would a reasonable person consider that I was in a position to improperly use my powers or position?
- Would the public perceive my action or decision as honest or impartial?
- Is there a conflict of interest?
Step 4: Identify and consider the options
- Who is the best person in the department to provide me with authoritative advice?
- What are my options and the likely consequences?
- Are these options consistent with the five ethics principles in the Act?
- How would the public view these options?
Step 5: Choose your course of action
- Is my preferred action within my authority?
- Is it fair and can I justify it?
- How will I document my action?
- Who will I involve to check that this is the correct action to take?