Public Administration: Ethics

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Ethics plays different rolls in public administration based upon the type of administration. After all, an administration is a business and it has to make money to survive. If businesses in public administration based the ethics of each individual employee, then the administration would fail. For example, a state employee dealing with welfare for a citizen feels that the citizen should get more money than authorized by the state; by allowing this for one it would only be ethical to do for everyone. Now the state will lose money and taxpayers will want to know where there money is going. The state goes bankrupt—because of an ethical choice. Administrators get paid to do what the administration instructs them to do, not to make their own ethical decisions.

In the example given above, the state only allows what the government sees fit. The administration was not set up to make ethical choices that employees feel are the right thing to do. It may sound bad that the administration will not allow extra money to be given to a person in need, but if it did happen the administration would not exist and the benefits available would be nonexistent.

Administrators must be value-free when implementing public policy. If they allow their own personal values to interfere with the administrations work then the work cannot be carried out efficiently. Student loans are just one example of this statement. An administrator may feel that a larger loan may help a financially challenged student, however there are more students to fund and only so much money to lend. Letting personal ethics get in the way of “business” would cause larger problems further down the road.

Rules are rules and are in place for a reason. An administrator cannot change the rules for some individuals and not for others. Goodsell says that the administrators that have more experience than others usually handle the dilemmas of personal ethics better than those who have no experience at all....
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