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IMPLEMENTING EFFECTIVE ETHICS STANDARDS IN GOVERNMENT AND THE CIVIL SERVICE

'IMPLEMENTING EFFECTIVE ETHICS STANDARDS IN GOVERNMENT AND THE CIVIL SERVICE' Howard Whitton Transparency International February 2001 1. Introduction This paper sets out a number of practical mechanisms for setting and institutionalising high standards of ethical conduct integrity and good Governance for elected officials and civil servants, based on the experience of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Korea, Morocco and Ethiopia. In summary, the introduction of relevant Codes of Ethics and Conduct, to be effective, needs to be supported by a range of other mechanisms, training, and leadership by managers and political leaders alike. Examples of such mechanisms are given. 2. Discussion In most countries today there are increasing expectations from ordinary citizens, business leaders and Civil Society that Governments will establish and deliver higher standards of ethicality and integrity in the Civil Service, agencies of government (Ministries and parastatals), and Government itself. In part this expectation is the result of better-focused media attention and public scrutiny, and increasing impatience by ordinary citizens and Civil Society, whose members want to see an end to the corrupt practices and systems of the past. Bearing in mind the significant progress made in recent years in developing effective Civil Service Ethics, Codes of Conduct, transparency measures, Ethics and Integrity systems, and Anti-corruption agencies, there is now a need to concentrate on three areas of concern in particular, which are directly relevant to the problems of internalising integrity and Ethics in democratic governments and the Civil Service. Areas for Attention These are as follows: 1. Anticipating specific threats to ethics standards and integrity in the public sector: attention needs to be paid to systemic threats that could weaken adherence to core public sector ethics values, and commitment to good governance, and to preparing the necessary political and management responses; 1

IMPLEMENTING EFFECTIVE ETHICS STANDARDS IN GOVERNMENT AND THE CIVIL SERVICE

2. Strengthening the ethical competence of civil servants, and strengthening mechanisms to support “professional ethics”: new techniques need to be undertaken to institutionalise ethically competent decisionmaking, disinterested advice to Government, and, ultimately, an ‘ethical culture’ which supports professional responsibility, self-discipline, and support for the rule of law ; 3. Developing administrative practices and processes which promote ethical values and integrity: new and proposed proethics laws require effective implementation through, for example, effective performance management techniques which support the entrenchment of the ethical values set out in Civil Service (and parastatal) Codes of Ethics. Specific strategies which should be considered include: • • • • • effective laws which require civil servants to give reasons for their official decisions, (for example: a Freedom of Information law); management approaches which encourage all public officials and civil servants to deal positively with corruption and unethical practice when they encounter it. ‘whistleblower’ protection law to protect appropriate 'public interest disclosures' of wrongdoing by officials; ethics audits to identify risks to the integrity of the most important processes (for example financial management, tendering, recruitment and promotion, dismissal and discipline); new Human Resource Management strategies (which link, for example, ethical performance with entry and advancement, and ethical ‘under-performance’ with disciplinary processes), merit based promotion and recruitment, antidiscrimination protections; training and development in the content and rationale of Ethics Codes, the application of ethical management principles, the proper use of official power, and the requirements of professional...
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