Business Ethics

Business Ethics

DFS delivers and supports major public works and maintenance programs, government procurement, information and communications technology, corporate and shared services, consumer protection, sustainable State finances, administration of State taxation and revenue collection, administration of the State’s managed fund schemes, land and property administration services and metropolitan water policy and planning.

DFS also supports the Minister for Finance and Services to oversee the operating licences of metropolitan water utilities and act as a shareholder in public energy utilities.

DFS relies on the support of commercial partners (including both government and non-government agencies) and suppliers to assist in delivering public value as a service provider, regulator, and central agency of Government.  DFS employees [1] are expected to behave ethically and comply with the DFS Code of Conduct. DFS also expects high standards of behaviour from firms and individuals that do business with the Department.

The DFS Business Ethics Statement gives guidance to commercial partners and suppliers on expected behaviours. All individuals and organisations that deal with DFS must adopt these standards of ethical behaviour as DFS is committed to promoting integrity, ethical conduct and accountability in all areas of public administration.

What DFS asks of commercial partners and suppliers

All commercial partners and suppliers are required to observe the following principles when doing business with DFS:

  • Comply with applicable NSW Government procurement frameworks, policies, and codes of practice and departmental procurement policies and procedures and act ethically, fairly and honestly in all dealings with DFS.
  • Not offer DFS employees, contractors and consultants any financial inducements or any gifts, benefits, or hospitality.
  • Declare actual or perceived conflicts of interest as soon as such matters arise.
  • Prevent the disclosure of confidential DFS information and protect DFS intellectual property.
  • Assist DFS to prevent fraud, corruption and unethical practices in business relationships by reporting wrongdoing (refer to practical guidelines below).


DFS key business principles

DFS delivers public value by making or enabling sustained improvements to public services in NSW by applying the values of Customer Focus, Responsibility, Collaboration, Continuous Improvement and Fairness.  DFS key business principles include achieving value for money in the expenditure of public funds while being fair, ethical and transparent.

Value for money: does not automatically mean 'the lowest price'.  Value for money can be defined as the differential between the total benefit derived from a good or a service against its total cost, when assessed over the period the goods or services are to be utilised.

Fairness: being unbiased, reasonable and even-handed.  Being fair does not mean satisfying everyone or not reasonably pursuing one's legitimate interests.  A fair decision may still adversely affect parties.

Ethical: being honest and applying required standards of behaviour and conduct in business dealings and relationships.

Transparent: business dealings, activities and decisions will be fully and clearly documented to allow effective scrutiny and enable performance review of contracts.

DFS is committed to the NSW Procurement Board’s Goods & Services Procurement Policy Framework and the NSW Government Procurement Policy (which includes the NSW Government Code of Practice for Procurement).

Why DFS commercial partners and suppliers should comply

Commercial partners and suppliers will be able to advance their business objectives and interests in a fair and ethical manner through complying with the basic principles of probity management as well as the NSW Procurement Board’s Goods & Services Procurement Policy Framework, the NSW Government Procurement Policy, and the DFS Business Ethics Statement.  There is no disadvantage as all DFS commercial partners and suppliers must comply with these requirements.

Non-compliance with stated ethical requirements when doing business with DFS, as well as demonstrated corrupt or unethical conduct, could lead to:

  • Termination of contracts;
  • Loss of future work;
  • Loss of reputation;
  • Investigation for corruption; and / or
  • Matters being referred for criminal investigation.

What commercial partners and suppliers can expect from DFS employees

DFS employees are bound by the core public sector values of integrity, trust, service and accountability as well as the DFS Code of Conduct and are expected to:

  • Ensure that decisions and actions are reasonable, fair and appropriate to the circumstances, based on consideration of all the relevant facts, and be supported by relevant legislation, policies and procedures.
  • Accept responsibility and be accountable for their actions in accordance with delegated functions, accountabilities, and the requirements of the Code of Conduct.
  • Actively promote the integrity and reputation of the public sector by always acting in the public interest and not engage in any activities that would bring the public sector into disrepute.
  • Achieve the highest standards of ethics by treating Government, stakeholders, clients, suppliers and each other fairly and professionally.
  • Provide relevant and responsive service to clients and customers, with all necessary and appropriate assistance in accordance with agreed service standards.
  • Always act with care and diligence, utilising departmental resources in a proper manner.

Incentives, gifts, benefits and hospitality

Commercial partners and suppliers must not offer or give gifts to DFS employees and there is no expectation from DFS employees that any gifts will be provided.  In general, DFS employees are expected to decline gifts, benefits, or travel offered during the course of their work.  Cash gifts (or equivalent, e.g. gift vouchers) are never acceptable.

DFS commercial partners and suppliers must not pay or offer to pay for any form of entertainment for DFS employees.  This includes such things as tickets to sporting or social events, social meals at restaurants, travel expenses to attend either local or interstate meetings or conferences, or accommodation expenses.  DFS meets all such business costs for employees.

DFS employee participation in some modest forms of hospitality is permitted where: a clear underlying business purpose exists; it is in the normal course of business; relates to the work of the Department; has a public benefit; and is disclosed by the employee.

Offers, acceptance, and non-acceptance, of gifts, benefits and hospitality are required to be disclosed by DFS employees in accordance with the Department’s Gifts and Benefits Policy.

DFS acknowledges that judgement by both commercial partners/suppliers and employees needs to be exercised regarding the offer and acceptance of such hospitality – the essence is that it must be modest (both actual and in perception) and not be encumbered by obligation.  It must also not be offered at a time that could raise general concerns about conflicts of interest, for example during a tender or contract negotiation period.  Modest hospitality could include basic refreshments at meetings, and simple light working luncheons.

Conflicts of interest

All DFS employees are required to disclose any actual, perceived, or potential conflicts of interest.  This includes those that can, or could, arise from personal relationships between DFS employees and staff of commercial partners and suppliers.  This requirement is extended to all DFS commercial partners and suppliers.


DFS will not ask for, entertain, or enter into any sponsorship or similar arrangement that is not open and transparent or where such activity creates a perception that it could be part of an attempt to improperly influence decision-making processes.  Where applicable, specific policies and processes developed within DFS for sponsorship arrangements are to be adhered to.

Confidentiality and intellectual property

Confidential information (in whatever form – hard copy, electronic, etc.) must be treated as such and protected as appropriate.  The specific requirements of copyright laws and individual contracts must be adhered to in relation to confidentiality and intellectual property.

Communication and cooperation

In line with applicable NSW Government procurement frameworks, policies, and codes of practice, DFS and commercial partners, contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers will maintain business relationships based on open and effective communication, respect and trust, and adopt a non-adversarial approach to dispute resolution.

Private employment and post-separation employment

DFS requires employees to obtain the approval of the Secretary prior to entering into any private/secondary employment arrangement.  This will not be approved if it has the potential to create an actual or perceived conflict of interest between the employee’s public official role and their private interests.  DFS employees are not to use either their position, government information, or intellectual property developed while serving Government to secure private employment.

Commercial partners and suppliers must not offer DFS employees private employment which conflicts with their public duties.  Former DFS employees who have dealings with the Department need to ensure that they do not seek, or appear to seek, favourable treatment or access to confidential information.

Expectations regarding contractors

All contractors and sub-contractors are expected to comply with the DFS Business Ethics Statement.  Commercial partners and suppliers are responsible for making any of their sub-contractors aware of this statement.

Public comment

Non-DFS employees must not make any public comment or statement that would lead anyone to believe that they are representing DFS, or expressing its views or policies whether at public and community meetings, via the media, or when it is reasonable that comments or statements will become known to the public at large.

DFS employees are not permitted to provide public endorsement, on DFS’s behalf, of companies or their products.

Public Interest Disclosures

DFS does not tolerate corrupt conduct, maladministration, serious and substantial waste of public money, government information contravention, and other forms of serious wrongdoing.  DFS commercial partners and suppliers are required to report all information that they become aware of that they honestly believe, on reasonable grounds, shows or tends to show, serious wrongdoing inside or outside the Department and its related entities.

Individuals and corporations (and employees or officers of these corporations) engaged by DFS under a contract to provide services to, or on behalf of, DFS are classified as ‘public officials’ under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994.  The Act protects public officials from reprisal or detrimental action when disclosing corrupt conduct or other specific wrongdoing in line with requirements of the Act.  The Act also ensures that disclosures are appropriately investigated and dealt with.


Further assistance

Questions regarding the Statement of Business Ethics:

Chief Procurement Officer
McKell Building, 2-24 Rawson Place
Tel: (02) 9372 8652

Concerns about a possible breach or any conduct that could involve fraud, corrupt conduct, maladministration, or serious and substantial waste of public funds:

Chief Audit Executive
DFS Internal Audit Unit
McKell Building, 2-24 Rawson Place

Tel: (02) 9372 8040
Fax: (02) 9372 8044 

[1] 'Employees' refers to all individuals employed, appointed or otherwise engaged. This includes permanent, temporary and casual employees, as well as consultants, contractors and agency employees engaged to perform work for or on behalf of DFS.