Public Interest Disclosure

Improper conduct – serious or significant?

Under s 38(1)(f) of the Act, the Ombudsman is required to publish guidelines and standards to assist users of the Act in determining whether improper conduct (as defined in the Act) is serious or significant.  These guidelines are critical to the operation of the Act, for they bear upon whether a disclosure under the Act is covered by the protections provided by the Act, and whether the disclosure must be investigated.

The Ombudsman has published the following Guidelines and Standards for this purpose –

Guideline No. 1/2010 – Guidelines and Standards for the Purpose of Determining whether Improper Conduct is Serious or Significant (1 October 2010) (pdf, 20.8 KB)

Procedures to be followed by public bodies

The Ombudsman is required by s 38 of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002 to publish certain guidelines and standards relating to the operation of the Act.

Under s 38(1)(c), the Ombudsman is required to publish guidelines and standards for the procedures to be followed by public bodies in relation to -

  • disclosures under Part 2 of the Act
  • investigations under Part 7 of the Act
  • the protection of persons against reprisals by public bodies or members, officers or employees of public bodies because of protected disclosures
  • the application of natural justice to all parties involved in an investigation of a public interest disclosure.

The Ombudsman has published the following Guidelines and Standards for this purpose:

Guidelines and Standards for Procedures to be followed by Public Bodies (PDF, 1.2 MB)

All public bodies are required to have procedures for dealing with public interest disclosures. The Model Procedures, which are attached to the above Guidelines and Standards, can be adapted by public bodies and are available here in Word Format:

Public Interest Disclosure Model Procedures (DOCX, 488.6 KB)

A flow chart (PDF, 383.4 KB) that summarises the process for public bodies dealing with a public interest disclosure can be found in the model procedures. (text description of the flow chart)