See no evil, hear no evil, report no evil

Here’s something we would have never guessed: Government agencies have been rife with ethical missteps, according to Christopher Lee’s story, “Study finds government ethics lapses,” in the WaPo. Not surprisingly, of the people who observe violations, very few report them to superiors.

A study released by the Ethics Resource Center found that nearly 60 percent of government employees at the local, state and federal levels have witnessed ethical abuses within the last year. Yet 30 percent of the people who witnessed violations did not report them because they feared retaliation for doing so.

The study also found that fraud occurred just as frequently in the federal government as it does in the private sector. The worst fraud infringements included altering documents, misreporting hours worked and lying to customers, workers and the public.

The Office of Government Ethics, a federal government agency in place for 30 years, is supposed to ensure that each agency has an ethics officer. But what are these ethics officers doing if more than half of government employees are noticing violations?

You can find more information about restoring accountability to government at CleanUpWashington.org, a site maintained by Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.