Ethics are the basic morals and values which a person uploads and their conduct is regulated or enhanced by these ethics. So, ethics basically dictate the manner in which a person acts. When it comes to the professionals, particularly for the IT professionals of Australia, the Australian Computer Society managements that such ethics are properly adhered, and that the professionals conduct their work in an ethical manner. For these purposes, the Code of Ethics presents certain values, and the Code of Professional Conduct provides certain clauses, which are to be followed by the IT professionals of the nation.
The following parts cover a discussion on the case study regarding conflict of interest faced by Harshal. This case revolves around the conflict which Harshal faced in doing his job properly as per the project brief when John had already given him his and Freda’s assessment, and where John offered Harshal a position which Harshal wanted.
ACS Code of Ethics: 3 Values
The conflict of interest which Harshal is facing in the case study requires him to work in an ethical manner, where the values set through the ACS Code of Ethics are properly followed. Three of the key values which Harshal needs to follow in this case, in order to make an ethical decision, include honesty, competence and professionalism.
As per the ACS Code of Ethics, the members of ACS are required to be honest in the representation of skills, products, knowledge and services (ACS, 2018). Owing to the application of this value, Harshal is required to be honest in the work he does. So, where Alice has given Harshal the work of carrying out the full SFIA analysis of skills of all of the ten staff in the Business Analysis Unit’s IT section, he has to do so in an honest manner. In doing so, he has to be honest towards the company and towards the job he has been given. So, he has to avoid the offer which John made to Harshal regarding doing a job in Business Analysis Unit as John knew of Harshal’s interest in joining the unit. If this is done, he would not be honest towards the company or towards the job given to him, resulting in breach of the values set out through the ACS Code of Ethics.
As per the ACS Code of Ethics, the members of ACS are required to work in a diligent and competent manner for the stakeholders (ACS, 2018). In this case study, the company, the IT department, its members and the work of Harshal are the stakeholders. As a result of this, Harshal has to conduct his work in a diligent and competent manner towards the stakeholders. If he lets the conflict of interest rule his work, the purpose of this value would not be met, owing to Harshal not doing his work competently and diligently. In order to avoid breach of ACS Code of Ethics, Harshal needs to focus on being competent and diligent towards the analysis work given to him by Alice.
As per the ACS Code of Ethics, the members of ACS are required to enhance the ACS’s integrity and have to respect the members of ACS (ACS, 2018). Harshal needs to be professional at his workplace and needs to undertake such decisions which prove to be best for the organization. If Harshal lets his work being clouded by conflict of interest or the offer of John, accounting integrity of ACS would be put at stake.
ACS Code of Professional Conduct: 5 Clauses
There are certain codes for professional conduct of members of ACS, drawn by ACS, which needs to be followed properly. Five of these, as are applicable in the present case include:
The Primacy of the Public Interest
As per this code, there is a need to give supremacy to the interest of general public before and above the private, sectional and personal interest, and in cases of conflict, the matter is to be resolved favouring the public interest (ACS, 2016). In the present case study, Harshal is required to give supremacy to public interest before his personal interest. Here, public interest is that of the organization and personal interest is of Harshal. So, he has to do the work for the organization, instead of being motivated by suggestions of John. Where this is not done, he would breach the ACS Code of Professional Conduct.
The Enhancement of Quality of Life
Another clause covered under this code is for the ICT professional to work in a manner where a significant impact is caused on the society and on the way of life. The ethical approach requires the professionals to minimize the adverse effects and maximize the positive effects (ACS, 2016). In the present case study, if Harshal focuses on personal interest, he would only enhance his quality of life, which ultimately puts a negative impact on the society. Thus, as per this clause, Harshal needs to keep aside the offer made by John and do his job wholeheartedly, to benefit the society.
As has been explained under the ACS Code of Ethics values segment, Harshal needs to be honest in his work, to avoid breach of the ACS Code of Professional Conduct.
As has been explained under the ACS Code of Ethics values segment, Harshal needs to be competent and diligent in his work, to avoid breach of the ACS Code of Professional Conduct.
As has been explained under the ACS Code of Ethics values segment, Harshal needs to be professional in his work, to avoid breach of the ACS Code of Professional Conduct.
Section 5 of the Australian Public Service provides that the public has the right of having confidence in the public officials having integrity in their work, and that the personal interest of the officials would not conflict with their public duties. This section requires the employees to take the reasonable steps in order to avoid the conflict of interest, be it apparent or real, with regards to their employment. Where a conflict of interest is faced by the employee, they are required to disclose the same to their employer (APSC, 2016).
In the present case, Harshal faces a conflict of interest. Section 5 of Australian Public Service requires him to avoid such conflict of interest from hampering his work, and for Harshal to give preference to public interest before his personal interest. The applicability of this section also requires Harshal to disclose the offer made by John to Alice, so that he discloses all the material interests and saves himself from breach of the Australian Public Service and also of section 29 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act, 2013 (APSC, 2016). This requirement was also upheld in the case of Berger v United Crib Block Construction Pty Ltd  FWC 450 (Fair Work Legal Advice, 2017).
Ethical Framework- Chris MacDonald’s framework
In order to make an ethical decision in this case, Harshal should rely upon the framework given by Chris MacDonald (2010) as it will help Harshal in making an ethical decision.
Recognizing the Moral Dimension
The moral dimension here relates to conflict of interest faced by Harshal in choosing between his personal interest and interest of the company.
Who Are the Interested Parties? What are their relationships?
Alice, John, Harshal, the remaining members of BAU and the organization are the interested parties as the decision of Harshal would impact all of them.
What Values or Principles are involved?
Honesty, competence, professionalism, enhancement of quality of life, and primacy of public interest are some of the values and principles involved here.
Sketch out options -not just actions, but courses of action
Harshal can accept John’s offer or he can do his job properly where he keeps aside the offer made by John.
Weigh the Benefits and the Burdens
Where Harshal accepts the offer of John, he would accept the analysis undertaken by John and Freda and would not take a proper analysis of their case. This would benefit Harshal as he would get a position in the Business Analysis Unit, which he also wanted. By doing so, he will hurt the general public, particularly the IT sector. This is because the “pilot study” which Harshal is to undertake, would be biased and would not give the desired result. As a result of this, the purpose of this “pilot study” would fail, ultimately harming the company and then the public.
Look for Analogous Cases
Berger v United Crib Block Construction Pty Ltd  FWC 450 is example of giving preference to public interest over personal interest.
Discuss with Relevant Others
This decision does fulfil the choices of Harshal.
Does this Decision Accord with Legal and Organizational Rules?
Where Harshal decides to let his personal interest rule, he would not only breach the values and clauses of the two codes highlighted above, but would also be in a breach of the legislations cited in the previous segment. As a result of this, Harshal would have to bear penalties and may even lose his job.
Am I Comfortable with this Decision?
If Harshal goes forward with accepting this decision, he would be in breach of the values and ethics of IT profession, and I personally am not comfortable with such decision.
Based on the thorough analysis of the conflict of interest faced by Harshal, certain recommendations have been drawn for him.
- There is a need for Harshal to make the ethical decision based on the applicability of ACS Code of Ethics and ACS Code of Professional Conduct.
- Harshal needs to keep aside his personal interest and disclose the same based on Australian Public Service, Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act, and Berger v United Crib Block Construction Pty Ltd.
- He needs to pay close attention to the applicability of MacDonald’s framework.
ACS Code of Professional Conduct
ACS. (2014) ACS Code of Professional Conduct. [online] Available from: https://www.acs.org.au/content/dam/acs/acs-documents/Code-of-Ethics.pdf [Accessed 08/05/18]
ACS. (2018) ACS Code of Ethics. [online] Available from: https://www.acs.org.au/content/dam/acs/acs-documents/Code-of-Ethics.pdf [Accessed 08/05/18]
APSC. (2016) Section 5: Conflict of Interest. [online] Available from: https://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/aps-values-and-code-of-conduct-in-practice/conflict-of-interest [Accessed 08/05/18]
Australian Public Service
Berger v United Crib Block Construction Pty Ltd  FWC 450
Fair Work Legal Advice. (2017) Conflicts of interest in employment law. [online] Available from: https://fairworklegaladvice.com.au/conflicts-of-interest-in-employment-law/ [Accessed 08/05/18]
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act, 2013
MacDonald, C. (2010) A Guide to Moral Decision Making. [online] Available from: https://www.ethicsweb.ca/guide/ [Accessed 08/05/18]