Council has been reviewing its Conflict of Interest Policy in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2020 and in respect of the specific points outlined in IBAC’s correspondence.
In relation to supervisors understanding their obligations to actively and effectively manage the conflicts of interest of the employees and contractors they manage, Council has revised its Conflict of Interest Policy which includes a section on managing conflict of interest as well as detail regarding the responsibilities each of – staff and contractors, managers and supervisors, suppliers and the internal Governance Unit. In relation to employees and contractors understanding their obligations to identify, declare and manage conflicts of interest, Council refers to guidance provided in the revised Conflict of Interest Policy related to identifying and declaring conflicts of interest. Council also provides induction and follow up training of staff in relation to conflicts of interest as referenced in its Staff Code of Conduct.
In relation to recording and communicating any conflict of interest declarations and associated management plans to relevant supervisors, Council notes that sections 4 and 5 of the revised Conflict of Interest Policy list specific responsibilities of the Council’s Governance Support Unit, which include:
- maintaining a register of conflicts of interest declarations made and included on the register
- ·notifying management of every conflict of interest declaration made and included on the register
- ensuring the conflict of interest register is available only to line management and to others where required by law (such as the Local Government Inspectorate)
- issuing a reminder to all staff at least twice each year of their obligations to declare conflicts of interest in accordance with this policy
- periodically reminding line managers of the existence of declared conflicts and reinforcing control measures
- reviewing the Conflict of Interest Policy in accordance with the policy review cycle.
In addition, Council is developing a process for an annual attestation by managers in relation to a number of governance, compliance, finance and risk matters. It is proposed that managers will be required to submit an annual declaration in relation to the management of conflicts of interest, commencing July 2021.