Conflicts of interest - school boards

If a board member has a financial interest in any contract with the board worth more than $25,000 a year, including sub-contracts, they must get approval from the Secretary for Education for that contract.

Your application must set out why the board wishes to enter into the contract, why the board member has been selected as the prospective consultant/contractor, and what decision-making processes the board has followed. You need to include a copy of all minutes relating to the contract decisions. Please provide contact details in case there are any questions regarding the application.

Send applications to: The Senior Financial Advisor, Ministry of Education, PO Box 1666, Wellington.

Preferential treatment risk

To approve any application for a contract with a conflict of interest, the Secretary for Education must be satisfied that there is no risk that the board member who has a concern or interest in the contract has, or may have, received preferential treatment.

To decide whether there is a risk of preferential treatment, the Secretary for Education will consider the factors explained below. You need to provide full information (with original supporting documentation) on each of the following points with your application:

  • Did the board take reasonable steps to ensure that all potentially interested parties had an opportunity to tender for the contract? If you used an independent project manager for this process please provide their contact details. 
  • Did the board consider and evaluate each of the tenders or quotes, and can you justify the preferred choice on the basis of cost, performance or quality of service? You also need to provide information on the value of the contract, its start/finish date, as well as details (if any) of any other companies that submitted tenders.
  • Do the board minutes record that the board member who is concerned or interested in the contract declare that interest and exclude themselves from meetings of the board when the matter was being considered, as required by the Education Act 1989.

If your board has already entered into the contract, the Secretary for Education must be satisfied that, as well as all the factors above, there is sufficient good reason why you did not get approval beforehand.

Benefits to family and friends

There are no legislative restrictions or guidelines for boards whose actions may benefit the family, whānau or friends of a board member – in other words, where the board member has an indirect interest. However, it would be wise for board members to be seen to be completely free of any improper influence. We strongly recommend that your board has a policy of declaring any personal financial interest to deal with these situations.



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