What is the ethics officer in the public service?

Verified 16 January 2024 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The ethics officer is responsible for providing any public official (civil servant or contract employee) who so requests with advice that is useful in respecting the ethical principles of the public service.

These principles include:

  • Dignity, impartiality, integrity and probity
  • Neutrality
  • Secularism
  • Respect for freedom of conscience and the dignity of users
  • Cease or prevent conflict of interest situations where the officer is or could be in such a situation
  • Full, accurate and sincere declaration of his assets and liabilities when the staff member is employed in a post subject to such a declaration
  • Non-cumulation of employment, unless it is a authorized activity
  • Hierarchical obedience
  • Satisfaction with requests for information from the public.

An ethics referee is appointed in the following jurisdictions:

  • State administrations, independent administrative authorities and State public institutions
  • Public interest groups and public industrial and commercial establishments in which State officials are employed
  • Local and regional authorities and public institutions covered by it
  • Public health facilities

The tasks of ethics referent may be carried out by one or more persons who are or have been the responsibility of the administration, authority, regional or local authority or establishment concerned.

They may also be provided by a college, the composition and powers of which are laid down by an order of the head of department. This college may include persons outside the administration concerned or the civil service. They shall be chosen on the basis of their particular competence or experience deemed useful for the implementation of the tasks of the ethics officer.

With the exception of persons outside the civil service, professional ethics officers shall be chosen from among magistrates and officials, active or retired, or from among contract staff DTA: titleContent.

The appointment of the ethics officer and the information needed to contact him shall be communicated to the staff by any means by the head of department.

The ethics officer is subject to an obligation of professional secrecy and discretion.

Where a staff member intends to set up or take over a company, the administration may seek the opinion of the ethics counselor if it has serious doubts as to the compatibility of the proposed activity with the functions performed during the preceding 3 years.

The same shall apply where a staff member intends to go to work in the private sector on temporary or permanent cessation of duties.

A public officer may report a conflict of interest situation to the ethics referee. The ethics counselor can then provide the people concerned with advice to put an end to this conflict.