Ethics in Public Service

Ethics in Public Service

Copyright Date: 1993
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  • Book Info
    Ethics in Public Service
    Book Description:

    Specialists from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia and Sweden focus on topics from the field of public service ethics. They cover promotion of ethics, the teaching of ethics, freedom of information, trade unions, protection of human rights and legal aspects of public service ethics.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9157-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Conference Participants
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. One Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Ethics in government refers to moral standards in the public service. It is not concerned simply with what the constitutional structure of government ought to be, nor with the nature and quality of measurable services carried out to meet the requirements or obligations of statutes, although these are most certainly relevant. It is, of course, concerned with those elements of structure and organization that determine their quality and the acceptability of their standards, but it also extends more generally to the quality of government and its administration. It therefore has implications for the professional standards of all engaged in government...

  7. Two The Duty of the Professional
    (pp. 7-14)

    I retired exactly two years ago. After one month of leisure, in the deep trough of redundancy, Professor Chapman invited me with some blandishment to address this conference on ethics in public service. On the advice of Professor Chapman, I started writing this talk with a blank sheet of paper. I am not steeped in the academic literature on this subject. But I do not start with an open mind. I applaud the open scholarship of the organisers of this conference in asking me to speak without knowing what I might say.

    In this talk I shall set the scene...

  8. Three Promoting Public Service Ethics: The Codification Option
    (pp. 15-30)

    At the end of the 1970s. the conclusion was drawn that ‘from an international perspective, the 1970s may be described as the “ethics decade” in the historical development of the study and practice of public administration’ (Kernaghan,1980, p. 207). There is now considerable evidence to suggest that the 1970s -and the 1980s -have been part of an ‘ethics era’ in the evolution of public administration. The historical pattern of relatively brief cycles of rise and decline in public and governmental concern about public service ethics has been disrupted by the current period of enduring concern. The sustained focus on public...

  9. Four How Can Ethics Be Taught?
    (pp. 31-42)

    In 1976 the Australian public service was made the subject of a thoroughgoing study by the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration chaired by H.C. Coombs, The findings of this commission made ethics its first recommendation (Coombs, l976,p.25). But there is precious little that bears on ethics in the voluminous research that accompanied the report. The same gap between recommendations concerning ethics and research into ethics is also evident in a more recent commission of inquiry into corruption in the state of Queensland (Fitzgerald, 1989).

    More than 9,000 Commonwealth public servants were interviewed by researchers working for the Coombs commission,...

  10. Five Tragic Choices: Administrative Rulemaking and Policy Choice
    (pp. 43-58)

    Perhaps the central feature of administrative life is the necessity to make choices. At the highest levels of the public bureaucracy these are choices about ‘policy’, or general rules intended to apply across a range of cases. In the lower echelons of the bureaucracy the choices are more often about individual cases, including who is eligible to receive either the benefits or the sanctions available from government. At both of these levels of bureaucracy, and at all the levels in between, the decisions taken by administrators are guided by laws and by the rules of the organisation within which the...

  11. six Administrative Discretion and the Protection of Human Rights: Public Servants’ Duty to Take Rights Seriously
    (pp. 59-74)

    In their routine daily activities, public officials of every description make discretionary decisions which affect the rights of individuals. Immigration officers grant resident status to some and deny it to others, prison wardens censor mail of selected inmates and prohibit them to communicate with the outside world, police officers place electronic tapping devices on private telephones of suspected law-breakers. Normally, these decisions are not taken arbitrarily or without valid grounds; and they are always made in the name of the public interest and in the furtherance of generally recognised and often desirable policy objectives. Invariably, these decisions are legal in...

  12. Seven Freedom of Information and the Swedish Bureaucrat
    (pp. 75-92)

    A prerequisite for the proper functioning of political democracy is that the citizens have knowledge about the structure and contents of the public sector’s activities. In modem society, the public administration – the bureaucracy – accounts for an important part of these activities. Information given to citizens about what the bureaucracy does therefore becomes an important democratic matter.

    How does the citizen get information about the bureaucracy? Either the bureaucracy supplies it or the citizen procures it himself. In the post-war period, it has become increasingly common for the bureaucracy to inform the public. Since the 1960s. special posts of Information Officer...

  13. Eight Reasons of State and the Public Interest: A British Variation of the Problem of Dirty Hands
    (pp. 93-110)

    The problem of ‘dirty hands’ in political action was the subject of an article by Michael Walzer published inPhilosophyandPublic Affairsnearly twenty years ago (Walzer.1973). It discussed the circumstances in which a particular act of government which may be right in utilitarian terms may leave the man who does it guilty of a moral wrong. R.M. Hare had previously explained how it was that when the precepts and principles of an ordinary man, the products of his moral education, come into conflict with injunctions developed at a higher level of moral discourse the conflict is, or ought...

  14. Nine Public Service and Democratic Accountability
    (pp. 111-134)

    This chapter examines public servants’ democratic accountability. Its analyses and findings consider how systems might foster ethical behaviour among civil servants. It recognises from the outset that officials experience serious conflicts between adherence to the internal discipline of bureaucratic organisations and the requirements of public service in a democratic society. In this regard, two schools of thought have emerged. One – that of the hierarchs – seeks to channel accountability so that it flows directly and exclusively up through superiors, then to ministers and, eventually, to legislators. The other – that of the pluralists – asserts that life is not that simple. Officials often...

  15. Ten The Law and Officials
    (pp. 135-146)

    Public or civil servants, no less than practitioners of other professions, cannot claim to be independent moral actors judging and expecting others to judge the propriety of their decisions and actions by reference to the imperatives of each official’s individual moral code. The very role they have assumed – a public office – carries its own constraints, imposes its own discipline. Legal and ‘constitutional norms, some spanning many centuries, colour and contrive the propriety or otherwise of many facets of official behaviour. These may not always be well adapted to modem conditions of government the criminal law governing official misconduct is susceptible...

  16. Eleven Trade Unions and Ethics in the Public Service
    (pp. 147-154)

    It could be argued that the ethic of trade unionism can be simply stated: trade unions are concemed to improve the living standards and working conditions of those they represent. They do this through a system of collective bargaining, supported by threats of sanctions against the employers of their members. In other words, they are concemed with both the enhancement and the protection of the private gain of their members.

    However, such an interpetation would be at best only partial. The history of trade unions clearly illustrates that the ethics of trade unionism go beyond a simple statement of concern...

  17. Twelve Ethics in Public Service
    (pp. 155-172)

    The focus for most contemporary discussion of ethics in public service is the exercise of discretionary power. John Rohr provides an eloquent justification of this in hisEthics for Bureaucrats,one of the most significant books in a rapidly growing literature on this subject. Rohr’s book begins with the acknowledgement that ‘the bureaucrat’s discretionary power has become the pivotal justification for the consideration of public service ethics’ (Rohr, 1989, pix).

    In the western style democracies of advanced industrial societies much of the debate about conflict of interest, in the sense of individual officials benefiting in a material way fiom their...

  18. Index
    (pp. 173-178)