The approach to public service codes of conduct varies between jurisdictions. Most states have introduced general public service codes of conduct that are enshrined in legislation. In some cases, agencies are required to use the broad model to develop agency-specific codes, which are not statutory instruments.

OECD countries state the standard of behaviour expected of public servants in a collection of documents. The three most common forms are laws, codes of conduct, and guidelines. More that two-thirds of OECD countries established a legal framework for the standards of behaviour expected of public servants. The form of legal documents ranges from Constitutions, general acts on civil service or public service, administrative procedures law, labour law, to dedicated codes on standards of conduct, disciplinary act and the conflict of interest and post-employment codes. Codes of conduct and codes of ethics or a civil service code are also a commonly used source in over one-third of the Member countries.

A competent and impartial public administration is a necessary condition for the appropriate performance of its duties; the public must have confidence in the authorities’ discharge of their duties, in accordance with the rule of law and the democratic frameworks. For this reason the reliability of the public administration can be guaranteed only when guiding principles that govern working for the administration are both explicit and known to all those involved. These guiding principles constitute the essence of the appropriate discharge of public-staff duties - and their importance has significantly increased during the past few years. The expansion of the discretionary powers of administrative bodies, the changes in administrative relations and the emphasis placed on interactive policy-making have all created more scope for civil servants’ individual responsibilities.

Basic principles

(1) Civil servants shall perform their official duties in compliance with the Constitution and law. When performing their operations, civil servants shall act exclusively in the public interest.

(2) Civil servants shall ensure equal treatment of the citizens and the legal entities when performing official duties.

(3) Civil servants shall perform their activities to a high professional level, which shall be continuously upgraded.

(4) Civil servants shall perform their activities in the most conscientious, direct, the most efficient, timely and methodical manner in the interest of the citizens and the other entities in realizing their rights, duties and interests.

(5) Civil servants shall not be engaged in any activities that are contrary to the legitimate performance of their official duties, and they shall do everything to avoid situations and conduct that could impair the interest or the reputation of the body in which he/she is employed or of the state administration as a whole.

(6) When communicating with citizens and other legal entities, the civil servants shall act in a manner that enables establishment of relations of mutual confidence and cooperation between these entities and the administration. In their relations with the citizens and the other legal entities, the civil servants shall show understanding, courtesy, respectability and highest possible will to help and shall not impede the realization of their rights and interests.


(1) When performing their official duties, civil servants shall not be influenced by partiality for achieving certain results.

(2) When performing specific tasks and deciding about the rights, the duties and the interests of the citizens and the legal entities, civil servants shall not be led by incorrect, unjustified or unreasonable assessment of the factual situation due to prejudice, realization of ambitions for career promotion, conflict of interests, intimidation or threats by the superior civil servants, the official managing the body in which the civil servant is employed or by the persons affected by the respective act or decision.

(3) When performing the official duties, civil servants shall provide equal treatment of the citizens contacting the body in which they are employed. To that effect, they shall not reject to render service to a person that is regularly rendered to other persons nor shall render service to a person that is regularly not rendered to other persons.

(4) Civil servants shall not deliberately cause damage to other person, group of persons, body or legal entity. On the contrary, they shall ensure the realization of the rights and the legitimate interests of the citizens and the other entities.

Independence in reaching decisions

(1) Civil servants shall independently reach decisions and shall decide objectively on the basis of the facts of the case, taking into consideration only the legally relevant facts and acting without unnecessary delay.

(2) Civil servants shall adhere to the appropriate procedure when performing the official duties within their competence, especially rejecting any pressure, even the one from their superiors.

Misuse of the authorizations and the status of civil servants

(1) Civil servants shall not use advantages arising from their status as civil servants nor shall they use the information acquired due to their position for their personal benefit. Their duty shall be to avoid any conflict of interests, as well as situations that could lead to suspicion for conflict of interests.

2) Except when legally correct, civil servants shall not offer nor provide any advantages that would in any way be related to their position in the state administration.

(3) Civil servants shall not consciously mislead the public or the other civil servants within the body.

(4) Civil servants shall refuse to act contrary to the legal regulations or in a manner that presents a possibility to misuse the authority arising from their position, should the citizens and the legal entities for whose rights and obligation they decide ask from them to act so.

Information transparency

(1) Civil servants shall treat the information they acquired due to their position in the state administration with the all necessary secrecy and shall provide appropriate information protection.

(2) Civil servants shall facilitate the access of citizens to the information they have the right to obtain for the purpose of realization of their rights and interests.

(3) Civil servants shall not refuse to provide and shall not provide incorrect data or information to the state bodies, the legal entities and citizens, should the provision of data be stipulated by law.

Political activity

(1) Civil servants shall perform their official duties and the determined policy of the body in which they are employed on politically neutral manner i.e. correctly and efficiently, without revising their political correctness.

(2) Civil servants shall not represent or express their political view in performing the official duties.

(3) Civil servants shall not carry out political activities that could undermine the confidence of the citizens in his/her ability to perform the official duties in a proper manner.

(4) Civil servants, in their relations with citizens and the legal entities as well as in their relations with the other civil servants, shall not mention, emphasis nor indirectly state their membership in specific political party.

(5) Civil servants shall not oblige other civil servants or persons without the status of civil servants in the body in which they are employed to join specific political party nor shall they instigate them to act so by promising them career promotion.

Conflict of financial interests

(1) Civil servants shall not let their personal financial interest to be in conflict with their position and the status of civil servant.

(2) Financial interest shall include any benefit for the civil servant, for his/her family, relatives, friends, for physical persons and legal entities with whom he/she has or had business relations.

 (3) Civil servants shall not accept relations of cooperation with persons or organizations that have or had economic interest from the decisions or the activities of the body in which the civil servant is employed in the past three years.

Gifts and other form of benefit

(1) Civil servants shall not ask for nor accept, for themselves or for others, gifts, services, assistance or any other benefit that could affect or that could seem to affect their decisions for certain issues, or that could corrupt their professional approach towards certain issues.

(2) Civil servants shall not accept gifts or gratitude that could be deemed as reward for those activities the performance of which is their responsibility.

(3) Civil servants shall not ask for themselves or for other nor shall they accept gifts or other form of benefit from other civil servant or his/her relative.

Protection and economy usage of government funds

(1) Civil servants shall put all efforts to ensure maximum effective and economy management and usage of tangible assets, equipment and other objects entrusted to them, and shall prevent their illegal disposal.

(2) Civil servants shall take care of undertaking appropriate measures to ensure security of entrusted objects as well as of eliminating the possibilities to cause material damage in the body in which they are employed.

Conduct at the service

(1) Civil servants, except due to justified causes, shall not postpone or entrust the performance of the activities or the decision making within their responsibility to other civil servants. They shall not refuse the performance of the official duties of the working post assigned to them nor shall reject the orders by the direct superior civil servant, except in the cases stipulated by law.

(2) Respecting office hours, civil servants shall pay special efforts and time to perform the official duties. They shall limit absence from their working post to that strictly indispensable.

(3) Civil servants shall not use the objects or the equipment at their disposal assigned to them for official purposes for private ones. Except in cases of emergency, they shall not use the office telephone or computer equipment for personal needs. Civil servants having company vehicle at disposal shall use the vehicle for performing official duties and shall not transport persons not within the administration.

(4) Civil servants shall conduct correctly towards the other civil servants as well as the employees in the other state bodies.

(5) Civil servants shall pay special attention to the way they dress in order not to cause an impression of indecency or impairment of the reputation of the body in which he/she is employed.

Conduct in private life

(1) Civil servants shall avoid activities and conduct in their private life that could diminish the confidence of the public in state administration. They should avoid actions or activities that are in conflict with the legal or ethical norms and that could be a reason for their personal blackmail related to the performance of the official duties.

(2) Civil servants shall avoid situation in which, due to their position in the state administration, they are obliged to perform operations in favour of any person or in which they are subject to inappropriate influence by other persons.

Public relations

(1) Civil servants in direct contact with the citizens and the legal entities shall pay appropriate attention to each of their issues and shall provide explanations requested from them pertaining to their conduct and the conduct of the other employees in the body.

(2) When reaching decision about the cases, civil servants shall respect their chronological order and shall not refuse to undertake actions within their responsibility by indicating reasons such as the scope of work to be accomplished or the lack of time.

(3) Without influencing their right to publicly express their opinion, civil servants shall refrain from giving public statements that impair the reputation of the body in which they are employed or of the state administration as a whole.

(4) Civil servants shall not assume obligations or make promises pertaining to their decisions or actions or the decisions and the actions of the other civil servants or the official managing the body in which the civil servant is employed, should it cause or should it confirm the mistrust in the administration or in its independence and impartiality.

(5) Civil servants shall, when preparing written materials and in any other communication, use clear and understandable language.


Lobbyists are a feature of our democratic system. There is no ban on civil servants having dealings with them where this serves a proper purpose and is conducted in a proper manner. But the need for propriety is crucial. It is the job of all civil servants to make sure that they conduct their dealings with lobbyists in a manner which is proper and not open to misinterpretation.

It is not possible exhaustively to cover every situation which may arise, but the main points to have in mind for civil servants in dealings with professional lobbyists, given the nature of their work, is as follows.

Some things are completely unacceptable. For instance:

  • Leaking confidential or sensitive material, especially market sensitive material, to a lobbyist.
  • Deliberately helping a lobbyist to attract business by arranging for clients to have privileged access to Ministers or undue influence over policy.
  • Saying or doing anything that could be represented as granting a lobbyist preferential or premature access to information, Parliamentary or Governmental, which the civil servant has received because of his/her  official position.
  • Accepting gifts or other benefits from a lobbyist which are offered to the civil servant because of his/her official position and could place the civil servant, or reasonably be considered to place the civil servant under an obligation to the donor. 
  • Giving the impression to a lobbyist that any particular advice, idea or information from their clients could or will be decisive in the decision-making process. Decisions are for Ministers who will want to weigh up all the evidence and all the advice they receive before they judge the public interest.
  • Using knowledge about what is going on inside Government
  • Using one’s position to help a lobbyist get a benefit to which he or she is not entitled.
  • Offering, or giving the impression of offering, a lobbyist preferential access to Ministers or their officials.

Civil Servants should

  • Consider whether meeting one group making representations on a particular issue should be balanced by offering other groups a similar opportunity to make representations.
  • Always declare to their Department any personal or family business interests which may at some time create an actual or potential conflict of interest with the work of his/her department, and comply with any instructions from the Department designed to eliminate the conflict.
  • Be careful about accepting hospitality from a lobbyist
  • Make sure that they understand the  ground rules , that they make proper arrangements to deal with any conflict of interest and that they  do not get tempted into doing something which would lay they open to criticism or be misunderstood.


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