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Public Reacts To Mandatory Ethics Training

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011


I read hundreds of newspaper stories every week about government ethics, but sometimes it is the comments by readers that are most illuminating.
Such is the case with an item posted on Capitol Confidential discussing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his executive order requiring staff to attend ethics training.
The training, to be conducted by the Commission on Public Integrity, is a response to Cuomo’s pledge to make ethics a hallmark of his new administration. “Top government employees should have no questions, no gray areas, no possibility of confusion regarding what is proper and what is not.”
Within an hour of the posting readers began commenting. While some were congratulating the governor on his commitment to ethics, others took a more cynical view. “Shouldn’t these people already be ethical???” wrote someone named Dave. “That’s the problem to begin with, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Another comment, from “Olaf Fubb” argued that just because people are required to take the training doesn’t mean “that all will pass or even show up.” Another reader wanted to know if this would be “real training or some web-based e-course.”
Using names such as Taxpayer advocate, madasahatter, and Question Mark, the remarks reflect the type of skepticism that can accompany required ethics training. Even someone who posted under the name “hope” expressed reservations, writing “this is an important but symbolic gesture…mandatory attendance at ethics training without some strong accountability is not going to change that (behavior) but it sure sounds good.”
I believe in ethics education, and I know it can make a difference. What do you think?


Tags: ethics training, Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State Commission on Public Integrity

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