February 8th, 2008
11:00 AM ET

Joe Johns: Ethics lapses in government, and you ... Keeping Them Honest

There’s a fascinating new report out that says 57% of federal and state government employees surveyed have witnessed violations of ethics standards, policy or law in the last year.

Think about it: there are more than 2.5 million federal employees and more than half a million state employees.

If that 57% is even close to accurate, that’s a lotta ethics lapses.

And that got us at AC 360 wondering — just what kinds of ethics lapses are we talking about here?!

So we’re reaching out to YOU.

We want to hear from public servants who have seen this kind of thing in the workplace. Things like conflicts of interest, alteration of documents. Lying to the public. The kinds of things the government shouldn’t be doing.

Did you see something? Did you report it? Who did you tell? What was done about it?

Tell us about stories that need exposing. Your name will be kept confidential, unless you agree at some point to reveal it. If you must, send your tips anonymously, but please provide us a way to contact you. We promise to read every e-mail you send.

Help us by “Keeping Them Honest.” Click here to tell us what you saw. And here are highlights from the report:

The study released this month by the nonprofit Ethics Resource Center discovered alarming statistics about government misconduct in the workplace:

A representative sampling found 57% of government employees observed a violation of ethics standards, policy, or the law in the past year.

Here’s a breakdown of lapses people have seen on the job:

27% find conflicts of interest

25% find abusive behavior

24% witness lying to employees

8% discover alteration of documents

6% discover alteration of financial records

14% witness lying to customer vendors or the public

29% say their job conflicts with personal values and are forced to choose between their own standards and directives from job…

Those are the stats – But what is done about it?

50% of employees report it to their supervisor

21% report to higher management (But 37% of those consider the ‘highest executive’ to be the leader at their job site)

In total, only 1% of reports are made using a whistleblower hotline… One percent! We’re talking about:
– abusive or intimidating behavior

– putting one’s own interests ahead of the organization’s

– alteration of documents

– using competitors’ inside information

– misuse of the organization’s confidential information

– alteration of financial records

– lying to customers, vendors, or the public

– misreporting of hours worked; and

– Environment violations.

21% believe that top leadership is not held accountable for their own ethics violations.

–Joe Johns, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: Joe Johns • Keeping Them Honest
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