Fighting corruption in the public sector

Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service


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 Why managing conflict of interest matters for governments?


Ensuring that the integrity of government decision-making is not compromised by public officials’ private interests is a growing public concern. New forms of partnership between government and the private and non-profit sectors present new challenges for policy-makers and public managers.


Effectively managing conflict of interest requires a balance. A too-strict approach to controlling private interests may conflict with other rights or be unworkable or deter experienced and competent potential candidates from entering public office or public service.


A modern approach to conflict-of-interest policy seeks to strike a balance by: identifying risks; prohibiting unacceptable forms of private interest; raising awareness of the circumstances in which conflicts can arise; and ensuring effective procedures to resolve conflict-of-interest situations.


Level of disclosure of private interests in the
legislative branches of government (2010)


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Level of disclosure of private interests of financial authorities (2010)


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 Why does the OECD help countries manage conflict of interest?


The OECD helps countries modernise their approach for managing conflict of interest by mapping “at risk” areas and positions within the public service. It has identified a set core principles and standards for the design and implementation of conflict-of-interest policies.


The OECD has developed Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service. These Guidelines were approved as a Recommendation by the highest body of the OECD, the Council, in June 2003. OECD Recommendations reflect a consensus by member countries as good practice.


The OECD supports and measures progress the implementation of the Guidelines through a toolkit  to provide generic examples and practical ideas and instruments for policy-makers and managers. It also conducts analysis of the application of conflict-of-interest policies for “at risk” positions and areas within the public service.


 OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interests in the Public Service


The Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service aim to help policy-makers and public managers consider existing conflict-of-interest policy and practices relating to public/civil servants, government employees and holders of public office.

The Guidelines:

  • Provide a practical framework of reference for reviewing and modernising existing policy solutions in line with good practice.
  • Promote a public service culture in which conflicts of interest are properly identified and resolved or manager.
  • Support partnerships between the public, private and non-profit sectors in identifying and managing conflict-of-interest situations.




OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service: Report on Implementation (2007) highlights the progress made in managing conflict of interest in the public service in OECD member countries. It also outlines arrangements in place for preventing conflict of interest in post-public employment and improving governance arrangements to ensure transparency in lobbying.


 OECD Toolkit for Managing Conflict of Interests in the Public Service


To support governments’ efforts in managing conflict of interest, the OECD developed a practical Toolkit in 2005 to help effectively identify and resolve conflict-of-interest situations.

Experience shows that identifying and resolving these situations can be difficult to achieve in daily practice.

This toolkit provides non-technical, practical help to enable officials to recognise problematic situations and help them to ensure that integrity and reputation are not compromised.

The tools are based on examples of sound conflict-of-interest policy and practice drawn from OECD member and non-member countries. They have been designed for adaptation to suit countries with different legal and administrative systems.



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 OECD Analysis on Conflict of Interest Policies


OECD/SIGMA Conflict of Interest Policies and Practices in Nine EU Member States: A comparative Review (2005) provides data and an analytical overview of approaches to managing conflicts of interest in the public sector. The nine countries are France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.


Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service: OECD Guidelines and Country Experiences (2004) highlights trends, approaches and models to manage conflict of interest across OECD countries in a comparative overview. It includes eight country studies: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal and the United States.


Revolving Doors: Emerging Regulatory Concerns and Policy Solutions in the Financial Crisis (ongoing) focuses on key aspects of the ‘revolving door’ phenomenon with a specific focus on regulators in the financial sector.


Post-Public Employment: Good Practices for Preventing Conflict of Interest (2010) reviews the measures taken in OECD countries for avoiding conflict of interest when officials leave public office. It includes a detailed case study of Norway’s experience in developing and implementing post-public employment guidelines for politicians and the public service.


 Contact Us


For more information about OECD work on Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service please contact the OECD Integrity Unit at



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