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? 
Last modified: Wednesday, 9 October 2013, 1:23 PM