The Importance of Ethics and Governance
There are times when certain matters and complications often occur in the public administration field. Many times agencies have issues with ethics and accountability within the organization and the correlation between the two is undoubtable related. Solutions to the problems are available to prevent and or reduce an unacceptable behavior. With the appropriate research and establishment of techniques to reinforce an ethical and accountable environment organizations can have a positive outcome. Such techniques are also essential to reduce the liability to the organization and provide a safe setting to the personnel not involved in the matter. Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them (Proverbs 22:22-23, King James Version).
Evaluating decisions according to standards of ethical behavior has a long history in American government. In recent decades, it has become a matter of great urgency and concern for many, in an out of government-especially as we become aware of numerous examples of behavior widely characterized as unethical. Yet several efforts that have been made to define, in sufficiently broad terms, the ethical behavior that a majority of Americans would perceive as acceptable in the public service (Milakovich & Gordon, 2013). Presently, the unethical behavior and accountability in public administration has become a dire issue. For instance, public officials misappropriating tax payer funds for their personal use and not being held accountable for the actions. Much of public administration has been affected by political corruption which can is defined as, all forms of bribery, favoritism, kickbacks, and legal as well as illegal rewards. Corruption is offisive to many traditions of private morality, yet rooting it out is very difficult (Milakovich & Gordon, 2013).
Public Administration lives in order to be responsible for the services it provides the citizens of the nation. Thus, the American people have the constitutional right to know how the money is being spent, budget decisions, and most importantly who will be held accountable for any deceitfulness that may arise from their decisions. As stated in the bible, the soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezekiel 18:20, King James Version). Those who commit the sin of deceiving others and not taking accountability for their actions should not put the blame on others for others will not take the punishment they did not commit. Today, the public has become to vocally question public officials truthfulness in response agencies and government are creating committees and enforcing more transparency. Dishonesty has become an enormous subject in public administration. At hand there are some enticements a few public officials can’t resist and are faced with the general public judgement aftermath. It is the duty of the administration to be vigilant of the issues. The enactments of external checks are essential for ethical engagements. External checks are, codes of conduct, laws, rules, and statutes that serve as safeguard to ensure that individual’s actions are ethical (Milakovich & Gordon, 2013). Without a well-defined and well-worked-out policy, responsibility becomes very difficult to bring about. Yet such policies are the exception rather than the rule. Many of the most severe breakdowns in contemporary administration, accompanied by violent public relations against irresponsible bureaucracy will be found to trace back contradictory and ill-defined policy, as embodied in faulty legislation (Miyakawa, 2000).
For example, Tom Price, the former Health and Human Services secretary misused tax payer money. Tom Price resigned, after sparking bipartisan outrage over his extensive use of chartered flights. Price’s travel cost taxpayers more than $1 million. Politico found 24 instances in which Price opted for a private jet over commercial flights, at a price tag of more than $400,000, while his the cost for his use of military jets exceeded $500,000 (Abadi, 2017). Another official accused of ethical misconduct has been Scott Pruitt. According to the Huffington Post, Scott Pruitt is facing mounting pressure to resign from the Environmental Protection Agency amid intensifying scrutiny of his alleged ethical lapses (Kaufman, 2018). Pruitt is accused of using, a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to give two of his longtime aides raises of $56,765 and $28,130 after the White House rejected his request for the salary increases. The law includes a provision that allows the administrator to hire up to 30 people without White House or congressional approval for work related to the law. Federal regulations dictate that government employees be “prudent” when “making official travel arrangements,” and book “the least expensive class of travel that meets their needs.” Yet Pruitt routinely spent between $1,400 and $4,000 on flights to Boston, New York and Corpus Christi, Texas, according to The Washington Post. He regularly stayed in luxury hotels. His international travel expenses soared into the six figures. In June, a trip to an environmental summit in Italy cost more than $120,000 (Kaufman, 2018). Friedrich states that, responsible conduct of administrative functions is not so much enforced as it is elicited. But it has been the contention all along that responsible conduct is never strictly enforceable, that even under the most tyrannical despot administrative officials will escape effective control- in short, that the problem of how to bring about responsible conduct of the administrative staff of a large organization is particularly in a democratic society, very largely a question of sound work rules and effective morale (Denhardt ; Denhardt, 2015).
The unethical actions of the officials are always scrutinized by others which jeopardize the mission of their leader. For which the President is also criticized for the actions committed by others in his administration because he governs the nation. Finer argued that civil servants “are not to decide their own course; they are to be responsible to the elected representatives of the public, and there are to determine the course of action of public servants to the most minute degree that is technically feasible.” These public servants were to be subjected to external control, through the courts, through the “disciplinary controls within the hierarchy of the administrative departments,” and through “sanctions exercised by the representative assembly.” “Administrative Responsibility in Democratic Government” (Behn, 2001). Unfortunately, as a leader for instance Donald Trump in the situation with Pruitt and Price he will always face scrutiny and be obligated to be accountable for the unethical actions his personnel have committed. As a leader he must always remain firm and strong while also making those accountable for unethical behavior. As the bible states, Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness (Isaiah 41:10, King James Version).
Some solutions that have been enacted to reprimand unethical officials has been the formation of laws, strengthening polices, and creating financial and criminal penalties. While also instituting independent agencies such as the U.S. Office of Government Ethics in order to combat unethical activities. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE), a small agency within the executive branch, was established by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. Originally part of the Office of Personnel Management, OGE became a separate agency on October 1, 1989 as part of the Office of Government Ethics Reauthorization Act of 1988. The Office of Government Ethics exercises leadership in the executive branch to prevent conflicts of interest on the part of Government employees, and to resolve those conflicts of interest that do occur. In partnership with executive branch agencies and departments, OGE fosters high ethical standards for employees and strengthens the public’s confidence that the Government’s business is conducted with impartiality and integrity (The Office of the Federal Register, 2018)
For example, On February 3, 1993, the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, issued by the Office of Government Ethics for codification at 5 C.F.R. Part 2635, replaced the many individual agency standard of conduct regulations with a uniform set of standards applicable to all employees of the executive branch. The Principles of Ethical Conduct. The following Principles of Ethical Conduct apply to all employees of the executive branch and many form the basis for specific standards set forth in the regulations (Department of Justice, 2014). Other forms of implementing a solution has been, the Agency Supplemental Regulations some agencies have published regulations that supplement executive branch-wide regulations governing employee conduct and financial disclosure (U.S. Office of Government Ethics, 2018). Although some laws have been legislated such as the United States Code, Title 18 contains the criminal conflict of interest statutes applicable to employees in the executive branch of the government. Included in Title 18 is a prohibition against solicitation or receipt of bribes; a prohibition against acting as an agent or attorney before the government; post-employment restrictions; a prohibition against participating in matters affecting personal financial interest; and a prohibition against receiving supplementation of salary as compensation for government service (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2018). Which appears not to be taken seriously by officials and that is why those who govern must fully enforce such laws.
Given the fact that there are laws and policies enforcing the prohibition of unethical behavior such actions continue to arise. Head personnel’s should make an example of individuals who commit such unethical actions by imprisonment and or financial penalty. It has become a custom of officials getting away with their unethical actions because the enforcer(s) is too merciful. For the bible says, let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake (Romans 13:1-5, King James Version).
An additional solution would be to fire an individual who is knowingly abusing the president’s trust and misusing tax payer money with even one incident. The wasteful use of tax payer’s money should be reason enough to terminate the person from his or her duties. If it is known that such individual has committed those actions there is no need to continue the circus parade of having hearings for charges of unethical behavior. For those not taking accountability of their actions will ultimate be shamed by the general public but put greater embarrassment on the administration that governs the nation. Addressing the issues publicly brings accountability and transparency given that at times there is unease in the nation. However, enforcing any penalties or charges against the individual(s) brings confidence and stability upon the people that are being governed. In the words of the late political scientist Carl Freidrich, public administration “is and will be a focal area for changes and transformation in society generally.” The only certainty in all this is the uncertain direction public administration will take in the future (Milakovich & Gordon, 2013). Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee (Deuteronomy 28:47-48, King James Version).
Milakovich, M. E., & Gordon, G. J. (2013). Public administration in America. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Hersher, R. (2018, April 03). EPA Chief Pruitt Faces Mounting Scrutiny For Ethics Violations. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/04/03/599145343/epa-chief-pruitt-faces-mounting-scrutiny-for-ethics-violations
Miyakawa, T. (2000). The science of public policy. London: Routledge.
Abadi, M. (2017, October 10). Trump Cabinet members have racked up millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded travel – here’s who’s under scrutiny. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-private-jet-cost-cabinet-security-2017-10
Kaufman, A. C. (2018, April 07). At Least 23 Ethical Issues Are Dogging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-pruitt-scandals-list_us_5ac66dffe4b09d0a1191647f
Denhardt, J. V. (n.d.). The New Public Service. Retrieved from https://www.vitalsource.com/products/the-new-public-service-janet-v-denhardt-v9781317486916
Summary – Executive Branch Standards of Ethical Conduct. (2014, September 5). Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/jmd/principles-ethical-conduct
Office of the Commissioner. (n.d.). Ethics – Ethics Laws and Regulations. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/Ethics/ucm071702.htm
Laws and Regulations. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oge.gov/web/oge.nsf/Laws and Regulations/
Agencies – Government Ethics Office. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.federalregister.gov/agencies/government-ethics-office