Guiding Principles in Public Service Ethics

Acting as guardians of the public trust, professional administrators are in a central position to revive and enhance the image of the public. Some of the principles that can guide public administrators in promoting the public service goals are as follows;

  • Ethical education – Education and training in administrative ethics are most essential for public servants and it must include both personal and administrative ethics. Civic virtues, virtuous citizenship, respect for others, protection of individual rights, and other ethical values should be internalized by public servants.
  • Preservation of professional and personal integrity – Professional values should prevail over personal orders of superiors deemed questionable. This requires, knowledge, self-control, a degree of autonomy and personal independence, and subordination of private interests to the public interest and public trust.

 However, strict observance to professional interests can conflict with broad public interests, a problem that must be avoided when faced, as broad public interests are superior to narrow-based professional interests.

  • Prudence – The exercise of prudence requires self-controlled, discretionary decisions based on knowledge, expertise, and ethical judgment in a particular situation.
  • Public spirit – Private interests should be subordinate to public, community interests. In making decisions or acting as an administrator, one must think of the public trust and citizens’ interests.
  •  Exemplary behaviour – It refers to blowing the whistle and reporting wrongdoings to the right sources for corrections. However, it must be done with consultation and maximum care, because you as an administrator also have obligations to yourself and your family.

 Follow and enforce the professional code of ethics – Codes of ethics in public administration are statements of ideals, canons of action consonant with those ideals, and binding means of enforcing behaviour for public servants.`