Essay Sample on Promoting Ethics in the Public Sector

Published: 2018-02-12
Essay Sample on Promoting Ethics in the Public Sector
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Leadership analysis Government Ethics
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1709 words
15 min read

Ethics in the public sector is considered to be the most crucial and useful aspect that is implemented in various public offices and government institutions to ensure efficiency and proper service delivery. Promotion of ethics provides guidelines under which these agencies conduct their day-to-day operations thereby providing well functioning of the institutions to enhance ethical behavior or conduct of individuals working in these particular entities. Ethical behavior in public service involves an application of basic principles and standards during the day-to-day activities carried out in the respective public sector. Mainly, ethics in this sector addresses the underlying premise of an officer’s duty to the public. In other words, it refers to the moral justification for decisions and actions made while completing daily tasks in line with the obligation to avail the general services of the local government (Kohlberg, 1985). Lack of proper code of ethics is associated with unethical malpractices in public sector, which lead to activities such as embezzlement of public funds and poor service delivery to the citizens. The case study presents a situation where the previous city manager performed unethical and illegal actions that led to the loss of funds and jobs. Therefore, this recommendation paper seeks to analyze critically the various ways in which the city manager can apply ethics in governing the local government to promote desirable ethical standards in his cabinet.

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Formulation of a Legal Framework that Outlines Specific Values in the Local Government

The public sector legal framework offers a platform for outlining communication and understanding the core values of practice to the employees. It also lists the rules and regulations governing the conduct, performance, behavior and professionalism of public administrators. The legal framework also points out disciplinary actions or prosecutions methods that can be initiated if a particular employee does not confide with the laws and regulations illustrated in the legal framework. Typically, the breach of any of the doctrines in the framework leads to a legal action (Jaccard, 1999), for example, imprisonment or fine as stipulated by the federal law. Notably, the employee acts as an agent for the local government. Therefore, the city manager should develop a legal framework that binds both the parties to act in the best interest of each other. Mainly, regarding embezzlement of funds, the manager should ensure that any employee who mismanages financial resources faces the set consequences by the federal law. Similarly, it is mandatory that the manager openly publishes the legal framework that will ensure its availability to each employee.

Fostering an Open and Transparent Decision-making Process in the Local Government

Public administrators make decisions daily. Such decisions include managerial and operational decisions. Mainly, managers and supervisors make administrative decisions while their subordinates make daily operational decisions. On many occasions, judgments in the local government apply to the use and distribution of financial resources among various initiatives. Others apply to the implementation of justice among citizens. Notably, the public officers must uphold ethical decision-making to ensure fair and equitable sharing of resources and that the financial resources are put to their legitimate use. Consequently, it is paramount that the city manager fosters and maintains an open and transparent decision-making process for both the managers and their subordinates. Particularly, it is paramount that he identifies the levels of ethical decision-making processes to ensure that workers uphold moral rules and ethical principles while making decisions. Furthermore, a government that understands the need for social order and entertains universal moral principles creates the best possible society (Kohlberg, 1985). Notably, ethical decision-making focuses on logic, justice, and social organization. Additionally, the city manager should uphold participative decision-making that ensures all employees’ input is incorporated in the process. Regarding ethical decision-making, Bass (1999) suggests that the city manager can adopt a transformational leadership style, which requires high moral development.

Formulation of Appropriate Actions and Sanctions to Counter Ethical Misconduct in the Local Government

It is necessary that an employee conducts himself or herself appropriately in the workplace. Disciplinary measures and penalties are some of the various methods that can be used to punish ethical misconduct in the public sector to promote ethics in the local government. Malpractices such as corruption and embezzlement of public funds in the local government are some of the illegal and undesirable activities, which require appropriate disciplinary measures to discourage them. Examples of disciplinary actions available to the city manager include warnings, suspensions, demotion, a reduction in pay, and termination of employment. However, it is important that the manager includes the procedural elements of these actions in the disciplinary notice and follows them accordingly. This will establish administrative discretion regarding disciplinary actions against ethical misconduct (Jaccard, 1999). The implementation of sanctions and disciplinary actions help curb ethical misconduct since employees bear in mind that each undesirable and unethical activity they undertake while carrying out their activities is subject to punishment and prosecution.

Application of Effective Management Policies, Practices, and Procedures to Promote Ethical Conduct in the Local Government

The local government is an entity on its own with diverse functions, for example, recruitment and selection, remuneration, performance appraisal, and training and development. Policies are the basic principles that guide these features. Similarly, procedures are systematic guidelines for the performance of essential practices in the organization. Bass (1999) notes that the organizational and its employees’ interest need to be aligned. Therefore, it is only ethical that the city manager develops policies that protect the rights of the workers, particularly, regarding equal employment, fair remuneration, and the provision of healthy and safe work conditions. Similarly, the manager should develop procedures that guide employees on how to deal with the main issues that affect them. Notably, corruption is a major problem in the public sector. Therefore, having an effective anti-corruption policy is inevitable. Additionally, the manager should develop a code of conduct that guides the behavior of employees. Nevertheless, the city manager should document these policies and procedures in an employee handbook, which is readily available to all stakeholders. Additionally, the city manager should ensure that the local government management practices, policies, and day-to-day operations carried to the respective public should reflect the government's obligations and determination towards achieving the highest standards of ethical practices in the local government.

The City Manager should Act as a Role Model in Promoting Ethical Standards and Conduct in the Local Government

Managers and officials in either private or public institutions are influential personalities whose actions while carrying out their respective duties influence the ethical behavior of the employees significantly. The top officials in the public sector should serve as role models to encourage the other workers to perform their duties and responsibilities to the highest ethical standards. The city manager of the local government is expected to engage in daily monitoring of employees performances in service delivery and ensure that the workers are working under favorable working conditions to promote ethical standards. Consequently, if the managers and other top management officials engage in unethical actions during the administration of the public service, this will eventually lead to a collapse in the ethical standards of the local government. As a result, the city manager and his counterparts in management should perform their duties in an ethically acceptable manner to encourage other employees.

Promotion of Civil Servants’ Rights when Exposing Unethical Behaviors in the Public Sector

Public employees in the local government should be openly exposed to their rights and protection when they reveal unethical practices in the public sector. In this case, the city manager should provide clear guidelines on the systematic procedures to be followed by the officers when exposing the undesirable behaviors in the public service. However, exposing such activities in public sectors is usually associated with high levels or risk primarily to their personal security. Due to this, the manager should establish appropriate protection mechanisms to ensure the safety of such employees. Actions of such kind ensure that all unethical activities are exposed and prosecuted, which promotes ethical standards. Under such circumstances, every action undertaken by the local government is subject to accountability and scrutiny from the public (Jaccard, 1999).

The City Manager should Ensure that the Ethical Standards in the Local Government are Stated Clearly

According to Bass, (1999), a good governing system, in any public administration, which deals with the provision of services to the public, should ensure that all the required ethical standards are stipulated clearly. Consequently, every staff member knows what is ethically right and what is wrong while carrying out his or her respective duties in the public administration. The city manager should be in charge of ensuring that the acceptable ethical standards are easily understandable by each worker in the local government to promote ethical standards in the public service efficiently. Apparently, stipulated ethical standards outline the employee's acceptable behavior in their line of duty and the extent to which their actions are acceptable and ethically correct. The city manager should ensure that there are continuous availability and education on upholding ethical standards in the local government to motivate, challenge and encourage his workers on the importance of promoting ethical standards in the public service.

In summary, it is essential for a city manager to foster and maintain ethics in his public sector office, which ensures efficient delivery of services. Mainly, he should lay down a legal framework that outlines the particular code of ethical conduct in the local government. Second, fostering an open and transparent decision-making process is inevitable. Third, the manager will need to formulate appropriate actions and sanctions to counter ethical misconduct in the public sector. Additionally, it is crucial that he applies effective management practices and is a role a model for promoting ethical behavior among the employees. Finally, he should state the ethical requirements clearly and ensure that he upholds the rights of the employees during any disciplinary actions on ethical misconduct. Consequently, through these strategies, the city manager will promote the desirable ethical standards in the cabinet.


Bass, B. M. (1999). Two decades of research and development in transformational leadership. European journal of work and organizational psychology, 8(1), 9-32.

Jaccard, D. (1999). The Case of the Eleven-Inch Fish: A Study in Administrative Discretion. Policy Perspectives, 7(1), 51-58.

Kohlberg, L. (1985). Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Theories of development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 118-136.

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