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Code of Conduct

Approved by the Teagasc Authority on 4 May 2011

This Combined Code of Conduct is required to meet Teagasc’s obligations under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies and to demonstrate the organisation’s commitment as a public sector body to the highest standards of governance. The Combined Code of Conduct should be read in conjunction with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies which provides a framework for the application of best practice in corporate governance by both commercial and non-commercial State bodies. The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies was first issued in 1992 and revised in 2001 and 2009. The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies takes account of the implications of the Ethics of Public Office Acts, 1995 and 2001. Under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies all state bodies are required to have a written Code of Conduct.

PART II: CODE OF CONDUCT - MEMBERS OF THE AUTHORITY

Teagasc has developed this Code of Conduct for members of the Authority as required under paragraph 5.1 of the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies adopted by Teagasc on 6 March 2002. The Code of Practice which was updated in June 2009 requires that the Authority approve a Code of Conduct taking account of the implications of the Ethics of Public Office Acts, 1995 and 2001. Under paragraphs 5.1 and 13.1 (iv) of the Code of Practice, the Chairman is required to confirm that a Code of Business Conduct has been put in place and is being complied with by Teagasc. A copy of the Code is available upon request and is available on the Teagasc web site.

Appendix II to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies sets out a suggested framework for the Code of Conduct and this framework has been utilised in drawing up this Code.

4. Nature, intent and Scope of Application

4.1 The purpose of the Code is to provide guidance to the Chairman and members of the Authority of Teagasc in performing their duties as members of the Authority, as set down in the Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Act, 1988. Copies of the Act have been provided to all members of the Authority.

4.2 The Code also sets down other requirements provided for under other legislation and best current practice.

5. Objectives

5.1 The objectives of the Code are:

  • to set out an agreed set of ethical principles
  • to promote and maintain confidence and trust in the Authority and staff of Teagasc
  • to prevent the development or acceptance of unethical practices
  • to promote the highest legal, management and ethical standards in all the activities of Teagasc and
  • to promote compliance with best current management practice in all the activities of Teagasc.

6. General Principles

All members of the Authority are required to observe the following fundamental principles which can be categoriesed under 8 main headings.

6.1 Integrity

  • Members of the Authority are required to disclose outside employment/business interests which they consider may be in conflict or in potential conflict with the business of Teagasc. Members are also required to comply with the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001.
  • The Authority will not allow staff of Teagasc to be involved in outside employment/business interests which may be in conflict or potential conflict with the business of Teagasc.
  • Members of the Authority will avoid giving or receiving corporate gifts, hospitality, preferential treatment or benefits which might affect or appear to affect the ability of the donor or the recipient to make independent judgement on business transactions.
  • Members of the Authority must be committed to having Teagasc compete vigorously and energetically but also ethically and honestly, with universities, third level institutions, commercial and other providers of research, advisory and training services for the agriculture and food industries
  • Teagasc is committed to conducting its purchasing activities in accordance with public policy and best business practice and its purchasing regulations reflect this commitment.
  • Teagasc is also committed to ensuring that its engagement of consultancy and other services is in compliance with public policy guidelines.
  • Teagasc is committed to ensuring that its accounts and reports accurately reflect its business performance and are not misleading or designed to be misleading.
  • Members of the Authority and staff are required to avoid the use of Teagasc resources or time for personal gain, for the benefit of persons/organisations unconnected with Teagasc or its activities, or for the benefit of competitors.
  • Teagasc is committed not to acquire information or business secrets by improper means.

6.2 Information

  • Teagasc is committed to providing access to general information relating to its activities in a way that is open and that enhances the accountability of Teagasc to the general public.
  • Members of the Authority are required to respect the confidentiality of sensitive information held by Teagasc. This will constitute material such as commercially sensitive information (including, but not limited to, future plans or details of major organisational or other changes such as restructuring) personal information and information received in confidence by Teagasc.
  • Teagasc will observe appropriate prior consultation procedures with third parties where, exceptionally, it is proposed to release sensitive information in the public interest.
  • Teagasc will comply with all relevant statutory provisions (e.g. data protection legislation, Freedom of Information Acts).
  • Members of the Authority will observe the strictest confidentiality in relation to all confidential information provided to them and discussions and decisions taken at meetings of the Authority. Members should understand that this obligation remains in force following their term of appointment on the Authority.

6.3 Obligations

  • Teagasc will fulfil all regulatory and statutory obligations imposed on it including those imposed by the Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Act, 1988.
  • Teagasc will comply with detailed tendering and purchasing procedures as well as prescribed levels of authority for sanctioning any relevant expenditure.
  • Teagasc has introduced controls to prevent fraud and has adequate controls to ensure compliance with prescribed procedures in relation to claiming of expenses for business travel.
  • Members of the Authority are required to use their reasonable endeavours to attend all Authority meetings.
  • It is acknowledged that the acceptance of positions following employment and/or engagement by a State body can give rise to the potential for conflicts of interest and to confidentiality concerns. The Authority of Teagasc will consider any cases in which such conflicts of interest or confidentiality concerns may arise and will take appropriate steps to deal with such matters in an effective manner. The Authority will also ensure that any procedures that it may put in place in this regard are monitored and enforced.

6.4 Loyalty

  • The Authority acknowledge their responsibility to be loyal to Teagasc and to be fully committed to all its activities while mindful that Teagasc must at all times take into account the interests of its clients and funders including tax payers
  • The Authority acknowledge their duty to conform to the highest standards of business ethics.
  • Authority members are required to act in the interests of Teagasc when engaged in their roles as Authority members and not to undertake any other role or activity that would be prejudicial to the interests of the organisation.

6.5 Fairness

  • Teagasc is committed to complying with employment equality and equal status legislation.
  • Teagasc is committed to fairness in all its business dealings
  • Teagasc values its suppliers, clients and customers and treats all its suppliers, clients and customers equally.

6.6 Work/External Environment

  • The Authority place the highest priority on promoting and preserving health and safety.
  • The Authority will ensure that community concerns are fully considered in all its activities and operations.
  • The Authority will minimise any detrimental impact of its operations on the environment.

6.7 Responsibility

  • Teagasc will circulate this Code of Conduct, and a policy document on disclosure of interests, to all members of the Authority for their retention.
  • Teagasc will ensure that all members of the Authority receive a copy of the appropriate Code and understand its contents.
  • Teagasc will provide practical guidance and direction as required on such areas as gifts and entertainment and on any other ethical considerations which may arise.

Review

  • Teagasc will review this Code as appropriate.
  • Any revisions to this Code must be considered and approved at a meeting of the Authority of Teagasc.