“Public officials are sometimes offered gifts and hospitality by external stakeholders which it is reasonable for them to accept. This can, however, present a risk of actual or perceived conflicts of interest, and undermine value for money or affect government’s reputation. While most, but not all, cases declared by officials appear on the face of it to be justifiable in the normal course of business, we found some weaknesses in the oversight and control of gifts and hospitality. This needs to be addressed by the Cabinet Office and departments.” - Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 9 February 2016
Key findings include:
- Accepting modest hospitality is sometimes justified.
- The Cabinet Office has a principles-based approach to guiding officials on whether they can accept gifts and hospitality.
- Rules and processes on gifts and hospitality could be more stringent.
- There are some weaknesses in controls over gifts and hospitality.
- The publication of hospitality record of senior officials helps to promote public accountability.
- Some departments are not meeting the transparency requirements.
- The NAO estimates that senior officials in 17 departments accepted some £29,000 of gifts and hospitality in 2014-15.
- The NAO estimates that officials in the 3 case study departments accepted a total of over £150,000 of gifts and hospitality in 2014-15.
- Officials accept hospitality from many organisations and individuals.
- While most cases of gifts and hospitality appear to be reasonable, the NAO found some examples where acceptance may not have been consistent with the Cabinet Office principles.
CLICK HERE to download the NAO findings
By ETHIC Intelligence