Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 58 – Q 5.What are some of the most ethical concerns in government institutions? Explain with the help of suitable examples.

5. What are some of the most ethical concerns in government institutions? Explain with the help of suitable examples. 

सरकारी संस्थानों में सबसे अधिक नैतिक चिंताएँ क्या हैं? उपयुक्त उदाहरणों की सहायता से समझाएँ।


Ethics are the rules that define moral conduct according to the ideology of a specific group. Moreover, ethics in public administration are important for good conduct based on the needs of a specific area, region or state. Ethics provide accountability between the public and the administration. Adhering to a code of ethics ensures that the public receives what it needs in a fair manner while tackling the ethical concerns raised in the process. It also gives the administration guidelines for integrity in their operations. 


  • For a public officials who try to function as a professional, the demands of law, his duty, impartiality, due process, provides a productive ground in which ethical concerns arise. Whistle blowers face this problem because their disclosure may institute a crime when the on-going misbehaviour is severe.
  • Ethical standards are not organized, so there are always chances that concerns arise and discrepancies always occur about appropriate behaviour. It can be shown that an ethical concern arises in a situation when the choices or behaviour is undesirable and presents harmful ethical consequences. Right or wrong is not clearly recognizable.
  • Public bureaucrats are not just facilitators of public policy. They make decisions relating to the lives of citizens, for example, about taxes, survival and the dismissal of people. In doing so they exercise discretion. In other words, the promotion of general welfare depends on the use or exploitation of administrative discretion.
  • When faced with alternatives the choice of the public official poses an ethical problem, the choice may be acceptable to only a small section of society. The problem is that the selection of one path of action from among several alternatives is often made on the basis of personal preference, political or other associations, or even personal embellishment, thus ignoring identified facts and thus the possibility of rational decision making. It could well be that all the prescribed rules, regulations and procedures are adhered to but that the discretionary choice may be regarded as unprincipled or even fraudulent.
  • In government offices, another major ethical concern is the secret conduct of public business. This is especially so because confidentiality can provide an opportunity to cover up unethical behaviour. Secrecy is an ally of corruption and corruption is always practiced in secret way. It is generally recognized that in a democracy, the people have a right to discern the working of the government and it would be in the interest of the public for the administration of public affairs to be conducted openly.
  • It has been seen that government officials are so careless that there are cases of information leak. Official information is often a sensitive nature such a pending tax increases, rezoning land, cost-cutting of staff that disclosure of the information can lead to turmoil, corrupt practices or, for some individuals, improper financial gains. Leaking official information at a date prior to the public announcement thereof is a defilement of procedural prescriptions and can result in an ethical concern.
  • Public officials have great responsibility to implement key public policies. They ought to be accountable for their official actions to their superiors, the courts and the public. It is however, possible for them to hide behind prescribed procedures, the cloak of competence and even political office-bearers.
  • Policy makers in government bodies are often challenged by conflicting responsibilities. They have definite loyalties to their bosses, but also to society. They have liberty to act on behalf and in the interest of others, but they must be answerable to others, their superiors and society for their actions. The official’s obligation to respect the political process may conflict with his view on how the objects of policy making are treated. It can be understood that the dilemma of the public official is the clash between his opinion of the public interest and the requirements of law.

In this regard, the following measures can be considered to tackle ethical concerns in the government :

  • Anticipating specific threats to ethics standards and integrity in the public sector – attention needs to be paid to systemic threats that could weaken adherence to core public sector ethics values, and commitment to good governance, and to preparing the necessary political and management responses. 
  • Strengthening the ethical competence of civil servants, and strengthening mechanisms to support “professional ethics” – new techniques need to be undertaken to institutionalise ethically competent decision making, disinterested advice to Government, and, ultimately, an ‘ethical culture’ which supports professional responsibility, self-discipline, and support for the rule of law.
  • Developing administrative practices and processes which promote ethical values and integrity – new and proposed proethics laws require effective implementation through, for example, effective performance management techniques which support the entrenchment of the ethical values set out in Civil Service Codes of Ethics.


Successful ethics management generally requires a balanced package that combines elements of compliance as well as integrity-based approaches and their adaptation to the cultural, political and administrative traditions of the particular region. Adopting new laws including code of conduct by itself does not go very far without implementing the spirit and the word as well as political will which overall help in tackling ethical concerns in the government institutions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email