The key principles of public service ethics on which modern democratic governments are based upon, are as follows;
- Public office is a trust so it should be used to advance only public interests not personal interest.
- Objective decision making based on merits, free from partiality, prejudice or conflicts of interest
- Conduct government openly, efficiently, equitably and honourably so that the public can make informed judgements and hold public officials accountable
- Honour and respect democratic principles, and observe them in letter and spirit.
- Safeguard public confidence in the integrity of government by avoiding appearances of impropriety and conduct unbefitting a public official.
Most modern ethics laws and public service ethics for public officials endorse the following minimum set of principles:
- Serving the public interest – Civil servants are expected to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in government, by demonstrating the highest standards of professional competence, efficiency and effectiveness, upholding the Constitution and the laws, and seeking to advance the public good at all times.
- Transparency – Public officials are expected to use powers and resources for public good, under government policy. They should be accountable for the decisions they make, and prepared to justify their actions.
- Integrity – Civil servants are expected to make decisions and act solely in the public interest, without consideration of their private interests. Public employment being a public trust, the improper use of a public service position for private advantage is regarded as a serious breach of duty.
- Legitimacy – Public officials are required to administer the laws, and to exercise administrative power on behalf of the government. That power and authority should be exercised legitimately, impartially and without fear or favour, for its proper public purpose.
- Fairness – Civil servants should make decisions and act in a fair and equitable manner, without bias or prejudice, taking into account only the merits of the matter, and respecting the right of affected citizens.
- Responsiveness – As agents and employees of the elected government, civil servants are required to serve the legitimate interests and needs of the government, and all citizens, in a timely manner, with care, respect and courtesy.
- Efficiency and Effectiveness – Civil servants and public officials are required to obtain best value for public assets deployed in or through public management, and to avoid waste and extravagance in expenditure and the use of public assets.