1. Public sector ethics, grounded on varying morals and values among cultures, encompasses ethical standards concerning people and groups who serve the public. Wikipedia (2017) stated in entry Public sector ethics “Ethics in the public sector is a broad topic that is usually considered a branch of political ethics. In the public sector, ethics addresses the fundamental premise of a public administrator’s duty as “steward” to the public. In other words, it is the moral justification and consideration for decisions and actions made during the completion of daily duties when working to provide the general services of government and non-profit organizations.”1 After reading this material, I learned that ethics play a very important part in the “moral” or “ethical” monitoring and evaluation of the tasks, duties and projects being conducted and implemented in the public sector. I learned that the public sector ethics is applicable to the part of the society or economy that performs several public and governmental services such as the police, military, government officials, politicians, public health care, public transportation, infrastructure, public education, public media and other public groups and individuals.
Moreover, public sector ethics encompasses not only the plans, decisions and actions made within the confines of public offices but also deals with how public persons/officials live on a personal level, particularly on health, finances, sexual misconduct and appearance of impropriety.1 It matters that a public individual/group is physically and mentally healthy; is able to properly handle public funds; is practicing moral sexual activities; and is objective and unbiased to avoid conflicts of interest. 1 “Public sector ethics is an attempt to create a more open atmosphere within governmental operations,” as stated in the Wikipedia (2017) entry Public Sector Ethics.1 As a member of the public service sector, we at the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) aim to practice good governance and transparency in our operations and services not only because we have to comply with the rules and regulations on these matters but mostly because we want to earn the trust of the stakeholders and farmers we are serving. For example, the official website of the (fpa.da.
gov.ph) follows the guidelines on Government Website Template Design (GWTD) issued by the Department of Science and Technology – Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO), which is a requirement for good governance. Along with this, our website contains the Agency’s law, rules and regulations, organizational chart, transparency seal, freedom of information (FOI) implementation, budget and finance, procurement, disposal, strategic performance management system (SPMS), citizen’s charter and International Organization of Standardization (ISO) compliance, among other important information materials conveniently accessible to the public through internet access. Moreover, our Office displays its regularly updated Citizen’s Charter conspicuously in compliance with the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) of 2007. Also, we submit our Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) annually to uphold transparency in our finances as public servants.
For me, these are among the several ways to practice public sector ethics and these provide the public an opportunity to scrutinize how ethical a public person or entity is or whether s/he/they are ethical or not. 2. In comparison to public sector ethics, government ethics deals with the application and employment of ethical standards and rules to government and public administration. According to Wikipedia (2017) entry Public Sector Ethics, “Government ethics It is that part of practical jurisprudence, or the philosophy of law, that governs the operation of government and its relationship with the people that it governs. It covers issues of honesty and transparency in government, dealing with matters such as bribery, political corruption, police corruption, legislative ethics, regulatory ethics, conflict of interest, avoiding the appearance of impropriety, open government and legal ethics”.1 Former US Senator Paul Douglas was quoted in Public Sector Ethics stating “Our government is now so huge and affects our lives so directly that we cannot be content with merely a moderately decent level of behaviour on the part of our public officials. For even a small percentage of misbehaviour on the part of these officials can do a vast amount of harm.
“1 Upon reading this material, I learned that government ethics focuses on how ethics can be applied and assessed in government agencies and officials. It is more on the ethical issues that might build or break the trust and confidence of the public like corruption and bribery and how these are avoided, mitigated or resolved ethically. The FPA is a regulatory body that regulates the fertilizer and pesticide industry.
Our mandate is to assure adequate, safe and affordable supply of fertilizers and pesticides; rationalize the manufacture and marketing of fertilizers; protect the public from risks inherent to pesticides; and educate the agricultural sector on the proper use of these inputs. To fulfil our mandate, we perform functions on licensing of handlers; import control; product quality and adherence to safety; institutionalizing of product stewardship program; fertilizer and pesticide product registration; public information; and developmental activities. Since we are a regulatory agency, we uphold regulatory ethics to impartially relate to the businesses and industry stakeholders that we regulate through good governance, transparency, FOI, among other ethical practices. Also, I learned that the opposing theories of deontology and utilitarianism can be applied in government ethics on a per case-to-case basis.
It would be difficult if a person or group sticks to a single ethical theory between deontology and utilitarianism because principles, morals, virtues vary depending on several circumstances. With regards to the ethical obligations of government/public officials, Perry (2000) stated in Ethics in Public Service, “Some specific obligations of public officials are: use of impartial judgment in the service of all constituents; avoid conflicts of interest that could undermine your objective judgment; don’t show favouritism toward family and friends in hiring; don’t solicit or accept bribes from people seeking to influence your official decisions; don’t invest in property or companies that be affected by your official decisions”.2 I realized that ethics is indeed a pillar or stronghold in the conduct of government operations because of ethical obligations needed to be fulfilled through ethical decision-making and program implementations and continual improvement of services that ultimately improve the lives of the citizens. SUMMARY/CONCLUSIONS/WHATNEXT: 1. Ethics is vital in the successful and properimplementation of the mandates, functions, objectives, strategies and goals of thepublic sector and the government, both of which are held responsible and accountableto the public.
Without ethical standards and theories to shed some guidinglight, the public sector and the government will be prone to intentionally orunintentionally committing unethical doings such as conflict of interest, corruption,misconduct, bribery, among others. 2. To strengthen ethics in the public sector andthe government, existing laws and regulations on transparency and goodgovernance, among others, should be improved with intensified implementingguidelines and programs. Individuals and officials belonging to the publicsector and the government should also be capacitated on ethics throughinformation campaigns, seminars/trainings, and other capacity- and moral-buildingactivities.