Essay topics: To be an effective leader, a public official must maintain the highest ethical and moral standards.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
Many developed western countries had minimal civil service ethics codes focusing on anti-corruption practices and preventing conflict of interests or self-dealing. These were not effectively enforced because of the practical incompetence of civil servants consistently applying ethical principles. Also, merely publishing ethics codes and service charters were found insufficient for many countries. Internalizing integrity and ethics in governments needs top-level political commitment, continuing reforms and effective enforcement of ethics codes. Therefore, public officials could receive encouragement coupled with civil service reforms for a more ethical environment.
Citizens and businesses among others have higher expectations of civil servants for upholding higher ethical standards in many countries because of increasing media scrutiny on unethical practices and relevant awareness generating programs. Citizens are impatient with governments and want an end to past corrupt practices. Many countries have laws promoting good governance, accountability and transparency of government officials like the Freedom of Information Act. These increase citizens’ access for information, obtaining reasons for official decisions among others. These laws along with ongoing public finance, regulatory reforms and oversight for reducing waste and inefficient public resource use have increased the pressure on civil servants for adhering to public service ethics codes.
On the other hand, many civil servants in different country governments do not think it is necessary for standing up against corruption and unethical practices as it harms personal and professional interests. For countries without established “whistleblower” laws and protection, public officials feel discouraged to make formal complaints. In certain cases there are officials who lack the necessary technical competence for recognizing ethics problems. In developing countries, ministers decide if the public get access to information in many circumstances. They often use national security or interest as reasons for withholding public information thereby circumventing existing laws and discouraging efforts towards a more ethical government climate.
Orienting and providing continued professional development and training for civil service employees on the content and application of ethical codes and principles respectively, regular ethics audits for identifying integirty risks of important processes along with highest level political commitment improves ethical and moral standards among public officials. Some countries with best practices are not restricted to the United States and Canada.
In conclusion, many countries with established effective enforcement of civil service ethical codes and relevant laws encourage public officials for maintaining high ethical and professional standards. However, those countries without “whistleblower protection”, technical competence among other issues nurture a discouraging environment whereby public officials merely narrowly follow the rules. There are possible ways though for improving ethical competence within existing standards for better public service.
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