Ethics is what one ought to do–the kind of behaviors that would
make the world a better place, especially if everyone engaged in
them. The key question is: how does the conscientious public
servant sort through competing considerations and determine “the
right thing to do?” When it comes serving the public, how does
one put one’s values into practice?
To determine what one ought to do, go to the root of the matter
and think in terms of values. Research by the Institute for Global Ethics
identifies ethical values that transcend virtually all cultures
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin
California has a complex set of ethics laws to guide local
officials in their service to their communities. How does the
well-intentioned local official keep track of them all? Keeping
four core principles in mind helps:
What options are available to local officials who are interested
in promoting public service ethics within their agency?
Realistically, there is no silver bullet for achieving a culture
of ethics within an agency. It takes hard work, strong leadership
and a sustained effort.
Are there other tools out there that have worked for your agency?
Please feel encouraged to share your experiences by posting a
comment on what has worked and what hasn’t for your agency.
“No great achievement is possible without persistent