Getting a Free Pass From Ethics

Contemporary media display an administrative behavior in government that begs the question: where is the ethics in leadership?

Fortunately, most government administrators perform ethically. However, the minority of offenders tarnishes the image of good public administration. Examples of audacious, unethical behavior include:

  • Merging personal life and administrative duties.
  • Reckless if not thoughtless control and security of communications.
  • Personnel nepotism.
  • Secretive preferences.
  • Clear conflict of interest in procurement of goods and services.

city-hall-719963_640Many cities, counties, townships and states offer an arrangement whereby administrators and other government leaders are shielded from the preferences of elected officials. Take for example the administrator who fails to report health and safety mistakes that later lead to illness and bodily injury. Alternatively, the career executive who somehow manages to re-hire a person with a conspicuous record of crime while in service including fines, plea bargains and guilty pleas. Is there not a consideration by anyone in authority that those who violate the public trust should be restricted from future, high-level government service? Is the message to the taxpaying public “we reap what we sow so we keep sowing?”

Recent public opinion polls show that taxpayers are tired of the profligate, self-serving actions by elected officials and government administrators. These unethical actions diminish the good services provided by the majority of public employees.

I suggest that those who plead guilty or otherwise admit to conflict of interest, fraud or dishonesty while a manager or higher level in government service should not be entrusted with authority for at least five years, possibly permanently. Those in administrative authority must prevent recidivist acts.

What do you think? How can we eliminate the “free pass” for unethical behavior?


Submitted by Geoff McLennan

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