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Resources for Ethics and Public Service Courses


Training future local agency leaders involves exposing them to both the laws that govern public servants’ behavior as well as the values that underlie ethical behavior.  The Institute’s work in public service ethics cover both, on the theory that the law creates only minimum standards for public officials’ conduct.


Understanding the Basics of Public Service Ethics Laws

Ethics laws are designed to preserve the public’s trust in its public institutions and those who serve in them by setting a framework to guide conduct and behavior. This guide discusses several types of ethics laws and principles and their important role in public service.


Transparency in Local Government: Protecting Against Corruption

What can local officials and their communities do to prevent a culture of self-interest over public interest from taking hold? What can they do to make sure abuses of authority do not occur in their communities?


Money and Public Service: A Possible Blind Spot?
December 2012

This article examines the intriguing question of why some public servants may fall into the trap of putting self-interests ahead of the public’s interests. 

The article draws heavily from the behavioral research presented in Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do About It.


Case Study: Badge of Honor
The Story of the Bell Whistleblower

As part of its commitment to supporting the next generation of local leaders and staff, the Institute aspires to develop case studies as teaching aids in universities.

The case study in the box at right describes the story of Sergeant James Corcoran, whose efforts to alert authorities to election and vehicle towing improprieties played a role in exposing the larger web of corruption in the City of Bell.


Telling the Truth When it Hurts

This article addresses the difficult issue of what to do when one is tempted to lie to protect one’s public agency from the application of a seemingly unfair law.  The article concludes that telling the truth is always the best course of action.

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