Conflicts of interest

If you work in the public sector, there is a good chance that you will have a conflict of interest at some point in your working life – regardless of what your role is or how senior you are.

A conflict of interest is any situation where your duties or responsibilities as an employee of, or office-holder in, a public organisation conflict or could be seen to conflict with some other interest you might have outside of work.

A conflict of interest can be:

  • actual – where the conflict already exists
  • potential – where the conflict could happen
  • perceived – where other people might reasonably think that a conflict exists.

Having a conflict of interest does not mean that you have done anything wrong. The conflict does not have to be a problem if it is handled well. Managing the risks associated with conflicts of interest is an essential part of public sector decision-making.

Managing conflicts of interest: A guide for the public sector

Our guide on managing conflicts of interest

Our guide on managing conflicts of interest contains a wealth of useful information. Much of the summarised information in this section is drawn from the guide.

Scenarios to help manage conflicts in procurement

Public sector procurement bridges the boundaries between the public, private, and voluntary sectors. Concerns about conflicts of interest in procurement often arise because procurement decisions involve these different sectors interacting. Each sector might have different ideas about what is appropriate.

We've prepared six common scenarios that explain why the scenario represents a conflict of interest, how it might affect trust and confidence, and why some proposed mitigations may not fully address the risk.

We also provide some ways to help avoid, mitigate, or manage the conflicts.

Our other resources

You can also: 

Try our quiz in Integrity Town

Integrity TownAs well as the above resources, we've got something more interactive. Try our quiz, and feel free to use it as a training resource for staff. Click on the Integrity Town image to get started.