Welcome to Ethical Foundations for Public Service!

Ethical Foundations for Public Service
Part 1 : Philosophy and Principles

Principles of Public Service (continued)

Principle #3: Accountability

Public servants should assure that government is conducted openly, efficiently and honorably in a manner that permits the citizenry to make informed judgments and hold government officials accountable. Ethical ground rules that promote accountability include:

  • Openness : exercise public power so as to allow public scrutiny.
  • Improve System : take affirmative steps to avoid waste, inefficiency, illegality or unintended consequences.
  • Self-Policing : take whatever steps are necessary, including reporting, to prevent unlawful or unethical use of public position, authority or resources.

Please refer to your handbook if you would like to work through this exercise on paper.

Thinking it Through...What Would YOU Do?

  • Your relative has asked you to assist him in obtaining contractual work with OSU. How can you help him in a way that doesn’t violate legal or ethical principles?

  • You see numerous ways to gain efficiencies and improve systems in your work unit. Your Director has not been open to your ideas. You continue to be bothered by what you’re observing. What might you do?

  • Your office engages in a fund-raising activity that will mostly occur over the lunch period, but overlaps into regular working hours. The fund-raising activity is for a worthy, non-profit group that will benefit families in need during the holiday season. Is the work time spent in this endeavor justifiable?

  • Your unit head decides to close the office the afternoon before a major holiday telling everyone to just go home. Is this okay? What might be the implications?