Honest Government: An Ethics Guide for Public Service

Honest Government: An Ethics Guide for Public Service

Honest Government: An Ethics Guide for Public Service

Honest Government: An Ethics Guide for Public Service


Americans deserve honest government. This text addresses the need for a comprehensive statement of ethical behavior for public officials and employees at every level of government. While recognizing the need for legal reforms that focus mainly on campaign contributions, the authors examine the broader questions of how we should measure the routine, day-to-day ethics of men and women in public service. By focusing more on attitudes and practices, the authors suggest that the highest standard of both ethics and competence should be demanded of all our public servants.


From Watergate in the 1970s to the savings and loan scandals of today, the American people have grown more and more suspicious of their own elected representatives, erecting more and more elaborate--and ill-conceived--structures to police public ethics, driving more and more talented men and women away from the public service arena for fear they cannot meet the standard of perfection our society now seems to insist upon.

Having investigated many of these scandals myself, and having helped shape the institutional reforms that flowed from those investigations, I know better than most that we still have not developed a very useful code of official conduct to help our political leaders stay out of trouble. I also doubt that a truly comprehensive code, showing how to deal with every temptation the politician is heir to, will ever be written, or that the truly honorable politician really needs one.

Nevertheless, I believe Michael Cody and Richardson Lynn have performed a tremendous public service with the publication of the book you now hold. Honest Government: An Ethics Guide for Public Service comes as close as mortals are likely to come to a commonsense guide to acceptable political conduct, and I commend Messrs. Cody and Lynn both for undertaking this important work and for doing it so well.

One book may not turn the tide, but Honest Government is an awfully good start.

--Senator Howard Baker . . .

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