Americans deserve honest government. This text addresses the need for a comprehensive statement of ethical behavior for public officials and employees at every level of government. Recognizing the need for legal reforms that focus mainly on campaign contributions, the authors examine the broader question of how we should measure the routine, day-to-day ethics of men and women in public service. By focussing more on attitudes and practices, the authors suggest that the highest standard of both ethics and competence should be demanded of all our public servants. The book identifies situations in which officials ought to act cautiously and presents the ethical rules that should be applied to each situation.
The text presents a philosophy of public service and then moves to particular situations to which this philosophy must be applied: campaign finance; the campaign itself; behavior of elected officials, appointed officials, and public employees; the role of lobbyists; compensation for public servants; moving to and from the public and private sectors; ethical guidelines for lawyers and judges; the private lives of public servants; and enforcement of ethics. The final chapter discusses the sometimes competing forces of ethics and competency. Ethical guidelines are gathered in the appendix and serve as a useful starting point for ethics in any public service setting. The combination of persuasive and thought-provoking proposals for governmental ethics reform along with practical guidelines on how to maintain the highest possible standards of ethical conduct makes this an important text for students in ethics and government courses, as well as an imperative reading for public officials, whether elected, appointed, or career.