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ETHICS IN PUBLIC WORKS by John Lisenko A brief introduction to the topic of ethics A look at what constitutes ethical behavior in public works Resources.

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Presentation on theme: "ETHICS IN PUBLIC WORKS by John Lisenko A brief introduction to the topic of ethics A look at what constitutes ethical behavior in public works Resources."— Presentation transcript:

1 ETHICS IN PUBLIC WORKS by John Lisenko A brief introduction to the topic of ethics A look at what constitutes ethical behavior in public works Resources and ethical guideposts

2 LEARNING OBJECTIVES Distinguish ethical issues from other problems in decision making (legal, technical, etc) Recognize and confront ethical “dilemmas” head on Develop some guidelines for navigating through ethical murky waters

3 INTRODUCTION Ethical behavior – some people might say that put simply, it means doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. Real life presents dilemmas that don’t always lend themselves to this simple interpretation.

4 SO WHAT IS ETHICAL BEHAVIOR? Obeying the law is what we have to do. Behaving ethically is what we ought to do, but don’t necessarily have to. Ethical behavior develops on three levels: personal, social and universal.

5 WHY SHOULD YOU BEHAVE ETHICALLY IN PERFORMING YOUR JOB? The consequences of your actions impact people who depend on you for their well being On the average, you’re well compensated for doing the job right. Other than moving to another city, people are stuck with whatever level of service you deliver.

6 THE ETHICAL PUBLIC WORKS PRACTITIONER Exhibits behavior which reflects values including: –Honesty-Fairness –Responsibility-Respect –Loyalty-Integrity –Compassion-Trustworthiness

7 LOYALTY – VIRTUE OR NOT? Most would argue that loyalty is a virtue and one of the criteria for ethical and moral behavior. The question in a Public Works setting that may be asked is: Loyalty to whom or to what?

8 DEFINING ETHICAL BEHAVIOR Another way of expressing ethical values, particularly in the public sector, is to describe desired behavior for public officials. APWA recently published standards of professional conduct to guide its members toward ethical behavior.

9 APWA Ethical Standard (cont’d) While ethical standards are a nice thing, they are only guideposts for those whose sense of the right thing to do may be somewhat flawed. Ethical behavior stems from a reasoned, honest and objective attempt at insight.

10 THE PUBLIC INTEREST AND PW PROJECTS Public works professionals have always seen themselves as the “good guys.” Seems like it should be a no brainer; if it’s a public works project, it’s in the public interest by definition. While in the past “progress” was synonymous with goodness, the current trend is to be skeptical of “progress.”

11 DEFINING PUBLIC INTEREST In terms of the “public good” – determination is made not by you, but by the city council/board. That’s what policy making is all about.

12 SITUATIONS WHERE YOU MAY BE SKATING ON THIN ETHICAL ICE When time is of the essence When you feel pressured to the point you think your job may be on the line When someone has angered you When you feel insecure in any way

13 HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE MURKY ETHICAL WATERS? You follow a “code of ethics.” Not all agencies have one, but you can get copies of codes from those that do. Many professional organizations like APWA, ASCE, NSPE have adopted ethics codes for their members.

14 STATE LAW RELATED TO ETHICAL BEHAVIOR IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR Political Reform Act Public Records Act Ralph M. Brown Act Public Contract Code Labor Code

15 YOUR AGENCEY’S RULES AND REGULATIONS Rules and regulations, particularly personnel and other related workplace rules were developed to “assist” employees in navigating murky ethical waters.

16 REFERENCES – information about cities with adopted codes and about the process of adopting a code of ethics.www.ca-ilg.org/ethicscodes - code of ethics adopted by ASCEwww.asce.org/inside/codeofethics.cfm - examples of engineering ethical situations and their analysishttp://onlineethics.org/cases/nspe/ec88-6.html - US Government Ethics Standardshttp://rf-web.tamu.edu/security/secguide/Ethics/Intro.htm ml - Santa Clara University web site for its curriculum on “Applied Ethics.”http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/homepage.ht ml

17 SUMMARY, Q&A Ethical behavior is the invisible glue that holds a society together. The wholesale absence of ethical behavior in a society usually signifies its pending dissolution. Government officials should set examples of ethical behavior.


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