3 October 2013

A reasonable expectation of an interest group with a focus on ethics in government would be that its membership has a genuine commitment to public service and integrity.   It seems just a little odd then that the US Interagency Ethics Council: Standards of Conduct for Federal Employees (IEC) has postponed a meeting that today was to be addressed about current events by the Director of the Office of Government Ethics.

The OGE is one the smallest of Federal Offices, and is affected like most other agencies by opposition to passing legislation to fund the Government for the next two months. Either the OGE Director is not willing to speak or the audience will not turn up, suggesting that their interest is limited to days when they are on paid duty – although a more charitable view would be that the proposed venue is not accessible because of the funding crisis.

Republicans wanting parts of the Administration’s Affordable Care Act dropped in return for voting through the Budget have brought about the first disruption of this kind since 1996 when, for 26 days, government services were suspended.

If the discussion was intended to discuss trustworthiness, the IEC commitment would not have been wasted. This month the results of a survey asking about confidence in Federal government workers showed more that 35% of the sample had little or no confidence, deteriorating 12% since 2011.

Only 19% said they have “a lot of confidence” in Federal workers. However 73% said working for the US civil service was a desirable job.