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Public Accountability and Ethics

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Accountability – Is a formal relationship governed by a process. As a relationship, it involves a person or body in a position of authority assigning or negotiating with others the performance of certain responsibilities, ideally based on agreed-upon expectations and standards.

-Paul G. Thomas
To the Public, accountability is…
A general subjective sense of responsibility, the upholding of professional values and standards even in the absence of external scrutiny, a demonstrated responsiveness to particular clients or to the community at large, and to the requirement of openness.

Accountability & Responsibility
•The accountable person is the individual
who is ultimately answerable for the activity A responsible person is decision. the who actually complete This includes “yes” or “no” authoritythe task. The responsible person is and veto power.Responsible for the action /

Only one accountable person can beimplementation. Responsibility can assigned to an action.be shared. The degree of
responsibility is determined by the
individual with “accountability”.

•A form of self -accountability
•An “inner check” on public administrators’ conduct

Republic Act 6713
An act establishing a Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, to uphold the time-honored principle of public service being a public trust, granting incentives and rewards for exemplary service, enumerating prohibited acts and transactions and providing penalties for violations thereof and for other purposes.

8 Norms of Conduct in the Public Service:
1)Commitment to Public Interest
3)Justness and Sincerity
4)Political Neutrality
5)Responsiveness to the Public
6)Nationalism and Patriotism
7)Commitment to Democracy
8)Simple Living

No matter how well trained, administrators use poor judgment, make mistakes, blunder, or otherwise fail to do their jobs properly. Grave violations :
oMisconception of Public Interest
Social Forces
Artifact of specialization
Close relationship with a particular clientele group or constituency oCorruption – betrayal of public trust for reasons of private interests. Unilateral
2 types of Political Culture
1.Boss-follower or political machine-based culture
2.Civic Culture
oSubversion – An action, plan, or activity intended to undermine or overthrow a government or other institution. (encarta)

The Accretion of Special Expertise and Information
The Advantage of Full-Time Status
The Protective Nature of Personnel Systems
The “Law of Counter Control”
The Problem of Coordination
The Lack of Political Direction
The Fragmentation of Agency Structures and Functions
The Large Size and Scope of Public Administration
“Third-Party” Government

3 Broad Approaches to Ethical Decision-Making
1.Virtue / Intuition – relies in person’s understanding of what it means to be a “good person” and to display the traits necessary to enact that understanding 2.Deontological – clearly stated and based on universal ethical principles 3.Teleological / Utilitarian – there are no overriding moral principles to guide all actions. So the consequences of the actions becomes the determining factor in evaluating the ethics of a decision. PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTABILITY & ETHICS

1.The Traditional Managerial Perspective
oDeontological and virtue-based guide to ethics
◦ authority and responsibility clearlyassigned
◦ need for strict subordination
◦ limited span of control
◦ subordinates are encouraged to be loyal to the organization and to their superiors ◦ formal disciplinary systems to enforce accountability and subordination ◦ fiscal regularity and employee performance places emphasis on the use of internal audits

2.The New Public Management
◦ Teleological approach and focuses on performance and results ◦ views procedural safeguard approach as obstacles to cost-effective government ◦ favors external oversight by legislatures that assesses performance but opposes that which focus on internal managerial matters ◦allow employees to use agency credit cards for travel and purchase of routine office supplies ◦opposes controls and oversights imposed by Central Budget, procurement and other personnel agencies ◦Accountability for results can also be enforced through market mechanisms and customers’ judgments

3.The Political Perspective – the need for developing mechanisms for accountability external to public administrative agencies a)General Legislative Oversight
b)Budgetary Control
c)Rotation in Office
d)Representation and Public Participation
e)“Going Public”
g)Conflict of Interest

4.The Legal Perspective – regime-values approach
a.Ethical norms should be derived from the salient values of the regime b.These values are normative for bureaucrats because they have taken an oath to uphold the regime c. That these values can be discovered in the public law of the regime


“Public employees, whether professionals or not, are expected to exercise an “inner check”
John Gaus
The Frontiers of Public Administration

“Individual responsibility of the administrator…to exercise…discretion in a manner that is consistent with the best professional practices”
Melvin Dubnick

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