How do ethics influence public policy

May 24, Updated On: Ethics are the rules that define moral conduct according to the ideology of a specific group. Moreover, ethics in public administration are important for good business conduct based on the needs of a specific town, state or country.

How do ethics influence public policy

Smart Management The Culture of Ethics That the Public Sector Needs Formal codes of ethics are worthwhile, but there is a lot more that can be done, both in government and in schools of public administration. Svara recounts the history of codes of ethics and reviews the debates about their usefulness.


This could not be more timely. Given the seemingly incessant drumbeat of scandals at all levels of government these days, the need has never been greater for a strong culture of ethical behavior in the public sector. Codes of ethics for public administrators recognize, first and foremost, that administrators are not just neutral implementers of policy.

In fact, "filling in the details" of often vague legislation is often left to professional--but unelected--civil servants. As a result, the view held a century ago that bureaucrats simply carry out the details of policy in some kind of a value-free manner has been almost completely discredited.

Professional Ethics & Wrongful Discharge

Almost everyone now recognizes that the cop on the beat, the teacher in the classroom and the doctor in a VA hospital have real power to make policy and therefore affect lives. Moreover, there is a recognition that high-profile cases of corruption and mismanagement can color public perceptions of the legitimacy and quality of government action.

To that end, improving the ethical behavior of government employees is fundamental to the legitimacy of democratic governance. So it is better to be ethical than unethical. But what is the role of a code of ethics, and what should such a code include? Space does not permit the recounting of the entire ASPA codebut a few excerpts can communicate the flavor: Almost no one would argue against personal integrity, but some people would resist the notion that promoting social equity should be an affirmative goal for an unelected public servant.

While everyone would agree, moreover, that the public interest should be put above private interests, definitions of the "public interest" are notoriously elastic.

How do ethics influence public policy

It is not only disagreements about content that lead some to dismiss such ethical exhortations as folly. Some have argued simply that the best way to ensure ethics among civil servants is to hire ethical people into the civil service.

Certainly there is some truth to that. For this reason, those of us who teach in professional schools of public administration and public policy struggle with the question of how much we should put ethics into the curriculum. That is, how much difference will it make?

Our Mission

Can we really "create" ethical people? To that end, I think that both leaders of public organizations and teachers in professional programs have an obligation to spend time and resources on efforts to promote ethical understanding and behavior.

Codes of ethics can help, but I would not stop there. If I were a school principal or a police chief, I would try to anticipate the kinds of specific ethical dilemmas my employees might face and sensitize them to these potential conflicts.

Those of us who are attempting to train those in the profession who will confront these challenges should view it as our responsibility to ensure that students understand not just the laws of economics and statistics but what acting in the public interest means.

I have found that a few well-chosen case studies can illuminate ethical choices. Among other things, they can communicate that the most efficient solution is not always the best one.

These efforts will not prevent all ethical breaches--they might not even stop most of them. Given the stakes, however, anything that produces even a marginal improvement in ethical behavior seems clearly worth the effort.The foundation of ethical decision-making involves choice and balance; it is a guide to discard bad choices in favor of good ones.

Therefore, in making ethical decisions, one of the first questions to consider is 'what a reasonable man would do in this situation?'For tougher decisions, advisors may find three rules of management helpful. The Commission has released a new opinion, Advisory Opinion , to provide more clarity on the post-employment restrictions applied to State officers and employees when they leave State service.

HOW ETHICS INFLUENCE BEHAVIOR IN ORGANIZATIONS In reality, there are some specific regulations governing our lives. However, regulations do not restrain everything. In some aspects, ethics play a much more important role than regulations. Whistle-Blower statutes States are free to give people more legal protection than the U.S.

Constitution and federal law. In the public-policy exceptions to at-will employment, states have extended the protection against wrongful discharge to all employees, even employees of a private corporation or employees of an individual person.

A typical whistle-blower statute (e.g., 5 USC ยง ) is. Ethics exists everywhere whether it is in government or non-government agencies. Careerists can provide inputs to the policy process that differ from the contributions of elected officials.

How do ethics influence public policy

Those inputs may take the form of special knowledge passed to elected officials in a particular policy area. Ethics in the public sector is a broad topic that is usually considered a branch of political the public sector, ethics addresses the fundamental premise of a public administrator's duty as a "steward" to the public.

CIPS Professional Code of Ethics - The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply