Ethics and accountability in government

Ethics and accountability in government

Ethics in public administration

The American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) has laid down the code of Ethics for Public Administrators.
1. The public servants should put the public interest above the self interest and subordinate institutional loyalties to the public good. They are committed to exercise discretionary authority to promote the public interest. Accordingly they should oppose all forms of discrimination and harassment, and promote affirmative action.
They should recognize and support the public’s right to know the public’s business and involve citizens in policy decision-making. The public servants should encourage the people to participate actively in the affairs of the government.

2. It is the duty of the public servants to respect the Constitution and the Law that define responsibilities of public agencies, employees, and all citizens and promote constitutional principles of equality, fairness, representativeness, responsiveness and due process in protecting citizens’ rights. They should understand and apply legislation and regulations relevant to their professional role and eliminate unlawful discrimination. It is also expected that they
should work to improve and change laws and policies that are counterproductive or obsolete. It is their responsibility to prevent all forms of mismanagement of public funds by establishing and maintaining strong fiscal and management controls, and by supporting audits and investigative activities.

3. The public servants are committed to perform their duties honestly and should not compromise them for advancement, honor, or personal gain. They should conduct official acts without favoritism and ensure that others receive credit for their work and contributions.

4. The public officials should make every effort to strengthen organizational capabilities to apply ethics, efficiency and effectiveness in serving the public. For the purpose the organizations should adopt distribute, and periodically review a code of ethics as a living document. They should work to enhance organizational capacity for open communication, creativity, and dedication. The organization should establish procedures that promote ethical behavior and hold individuals and organizations accountable for their conduct. The organizational accountability can
be ‘ensured through appropriate controls and procedures. The organization also should promote merit principles that protect against arbitrary and capricious actions.

5. The public officials should strive for Professional Excellence. They should work hard to strengthen individual capabilities and encourage the professional development of others to upgrade competence. They should accept the responsibility to keep up to date on emerging issues and potential problems.

Accountability of Public Administration

Transparency and accountability are often talked about in the context of administration in general and civil services reforms in particular. Accountability of public administration implies that for every action and inaction in government and its consequences there is a civil servant responsible and accountable to the government, the society and the people. Political accountability implies an established legal framework based on the rule of law and
independence of judiciary to protect human rights, secure social justice and guard against exploitation and abuse of power.


On the other hand Bureaucratic accountability ensures a system to monitor and control the performance of government offices and officials in relation to quality of service, inefficiency and abuse of discretionary
powers. The phenomenal increase in the functions of the government leads to the expansion in the powers and functions of public administration. Power in a democratic society needs to be controlled and greater the power, the greater is the need for the control as the grant of power carries with it the possibility of misuse
of power. The major dilemma before the governments of the day is to vest the sufficient power to serve the purpose in the view, but at the same time to maintain adequate control. The need for effective control of administration thus is obvious.

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