public pay disclosure in state government

Topics: Government, Open system, Salary Pages: 3 (838 words) Published: December 7, 2013


Public Pay Disclosure in State Government: An Ethical Analysis

References

Bowman, J., Stevens, K. (2012, May 16). Public pay disclosure in state government: an ethical analysis. Retrieved from http://arp.sagepub.com/content/43/4/476 Open discussion about salaries is often taboo in American society, inquisition can considered rude or out of line. Sometimes people aren’t happy with what they are making and therefore wish to keep that information secrete. But what if employers made all salary information public for the world to see? Perhaps corruption or misappropriate of fund would come to light. The article “Public pay disclosure in State Government: An Ethical Analysis” is a qualitative analysis that examines state legislation that discloses public employee salary earnings. The focus of the article is whether or not legislation’s disclosure of state employees is ethical. To help asses whether or not such legislation is ethical, authors Bowman and Stevens, utilize the “ethics triangle” to evaluate arguments for and against salary disclosure on the grounds of efficiency, responsibility, merit and public trust. This paper is an analysis of both the open and closed pay system and seeks to purport that the open pay system in more advantageous.

Advocates of open pay systems believe that the confidentiality increases efficiency because it promotes civil service professionalism and it reduces common work place issues, like employer favoritism and company corruption. Many supporters of open pay systems feel that because taxpayers pay government salaries, they have a right to know how that money is being allocated. A major argument for open pay systems is that it may enhance trust in the government, which intern would help maintain citizen faith in democracy. In contrast by not disclosing salary information there exist “a basis for suspicion that the organization has something to conceal” (Bowman and Stevens, 2012, p.476)....

References: Bowman, J., Stevens, K. (2012, May 16). Public pay disclosure in state government: an
ethical analysis. Retrieved from http://arp.sagepub.com/content/43/4/476
Open discussion about salaries is often taboo in American society, inquisition can considered rude or out of line. Sometimes people aren’t happy with what they are making and therefore wish to keep that information secrete. But what if employers made all salary information public for the world to see? Perhaps corruption or misappropriate of fund would come to light. The article “Public pay disclosure in State Government: An Ethical Analysis” is a qualitative analysis that examines state legislation that discloses public employee salary earnings. The focus of the article is whether or not legislation’s disclosure of state employees is ethical. To help asses whether or not such legislation is ethical, authors Bowman and Stevens, utilize the “ethics triangle” to evaluate arguments for and against salary disclosure on the grounds of efficiency, responsibility, merit and public trust. This paper is an analysis of both the open and closed pay system and seeks to purport that the open pay system in more advantageous.
Advocates of open pay systems believe that the confidentiality increases efficiency because it promotes civil service professionalism and it reduces common work place issues, like employer favoritism and company corruption. Many supporters of open pay systems feel that because taxpayers pay government salaries, they have a right to know how that money is being allocated. A major argument for open pay systems is that it may enhance trust in the government, which intern would help maintain citizen faith in democracy. In contrast by not disclosing salary information there exist “a basis for suspicion that the organization has something to conceal” (Bowman and Stevens, 2012, p.476). Ultimately, openness can establish confidence and acceptance of government processes. For advocates, the need for disclosure is clear, “when a person agrees to be a public servant… the public gains access to information related to that persons salary” (Swanson, 2006, p.1595).
While there are certainly many arguments in support of open pay systems, there are also arguments for a closed pay system. Some believe that closed open systems can have serious effects, such as moral problems, job dissatisfaction as well as staff turnover, which would negatively affect efficiency. Disclosure can also affect responsibility because it limits leader’s freedom to act. “Arguments over salary generate conflict, making it difficult to reward performance in the public interest” (Bowman and Stevens, 2012, p.482). Advocates of the closed system also argue that there are plenty of merit systems currently in place to safeguard many of the concerns open pay advocates have, such as financial disclosure statutes, just cause dismissal regulations, union protections and so on. When it comes to public trust, supporters claim that government auditors are charged with safeguarding the common interest and therefore eliminate the need for the public to have access to salary information. Supporters also assert that trust is hindered in an open pay system because it creates cynicism. Overall, closed systems “make both practical and economic sense” (Bierman & Galy, 2004, p. 191).
There are advantages and disadvantages to both open and closed pay systems, however it is apparent that the advantages of open pay outweigh the advantages of closed pay from the ethics triangle perspective. Regardless of certain advantages, pay confidentiality can be ethically problematic, which is illustrated in the perspectives of both rule-based and virtue-based analysis. Closed pay from a rule-based analysis seems to treat people as a means to an end stops personnel from being informed and empowered. Employees are stripped of the privilege of knowing what determines their salaries, which is an important dimension of their work life. Virtue-based analysis also illustrates the flaws of closed pay systems. Closed pay system can be a breeding ground for manipulation and scandals such as coercion. Not to mention close pay systems take away the publics right to know. Ultimately, closed pay systems can compromise “the greatest good, duty, and personal integrity,” and in doing so “it needlessly puts a hallmark of modern democratic government –a professional civil service –at risk” (Bowman and Stevens, 2012, p.487). In contrast, Salary disclosure acts as an enforcer of moral responsibility of those in power, which benefits both employee and citizens. Also open pay systems encourage justifiable salary decisions and help “personnel to better understand the agency missions, why they earn what they do, and what they should do to earn more” (Bowman and Stevens, 2012, p.487).
In closing, despite the advantages, pay confidentially can pose many problems for society. Using the ethics triangle and taking into consideration, efficiency, responsibility, merit, and public trust; it was evident that an open pay system yielded the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. Most detrimental to the closed pay system was that it compromised not only the greatest good, but also duty and personal integrity. Open pay systems are more advantages because it place people as an end to a means and encourages transparency and trust in the government.
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