For public policy and administrative decisions to be made in the public interest, policymakers and regulators must be independent. The promise of future outside employment, consulting, board memberships, or other sources of income could potentially sway an official’s behavior. ‘Revolving door regulations’ seek to prevent real or perceived conflicts of interest arising when individuals move between positions of public office and the private sector. They are an important tool for maintaining public integrity and trust in government (Transparency International, 2011).
Revolving door regulations typically aim to prevent potential conflicts of interest before, during, or after government employment by inserting an adequate buffer of time—a “cooling off” period—that regulates the movement of employees between the two sectors. They offer an important safeguard against attempts to buy access to public officials, preserving the integrity of institutions and officials in the broader sense.
- Regulations restricting post-government private sector involvement should cover public employees from all branches of government.
- Regulations should explicitly define the types of post-government employment opportunities that present a real or perceived conflict of interest and thus merit being controlled by the regulations. Officials taking positions outside of government after leaving the public sector that do not present a real or perceived conflict of interest with their former positions should not be subject to these rules and regulations.
- Regulations should contain well-defined cooling off periods during which public sector employees cannot work for the private sector where they directly lobby or seek to influence their former government colleagues.
- The length of cooling off periods should be differentiated based on seniority of public sector employees.
- Consider codifying sensible restrictions on pre-government employment and secondments that do not prevent the transfer of valuable knowledge and skills from other sectors to the public sector.
- Consider sensible restrictions on secondments (or other employment arrangements) of private sector employees into public bodies that give private sector organizations insider information or an unfair advantage in promoting company interests.
- Regulations should be codified in law as primary and secondary legislation to serve as an effective deterrent.
- Primary legislation directly restricts certain forms of post-government employment through specific laws on integrity or as part of the general law on the civil service.
- Secondary legislations are rules and decrees authorized by primary legislation. A post-government employment clause in employment contracts, for example, is another method of revolving door restrictions.
- Consider codes of conduct as alternative means to establish or strengthen norms on post-government employment.
- Revolving door regulations should be streamlined with other regulations on lobbying and conflicts of interest.
- Regulations should contain provisions requiring the disclosure of pre- and post-government employment history for public sector employees.
- Regulations should be monitored and enforced by an independent ethics agency with the mandate and authority to initiate investigations.
- A robust awareness and training programme should be instituted to ensure all public sector employees are aware of the existence and compliance requirements of revolving door regulations.