Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Ethics Articles



Government Ethics

Unavoidable Ethical Dilemmas for Public Officials
Challenges for public officials in the areas of fairness, transparency, conflicts of interest, and integrity.
Hana Callaghan
Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls in Government Service
Questions that public officials should ask before making a decision
Joe Simitian and Judy Nadler
Do's and Don'ts for City Managers and City Councilmembers
Advice for new city officials from an advisor to the International City/County Management Association
Frank Benest
Budgeting Is About Values
John Ellwood, professor of public policy at UC-Berkeley, discusses the difficulty in reaching consensus about values
Miriam Schulman
Thinking Ethically About Government Pensions
Various ethical approaches are used to raise pertinent questions about the best way to accomplish public pension reform
Miriam Schulman
Dealing Ethically With the Press: A Guide for Public Officials
Four rules of thumb for government officials in working with the media.
from a workshop with Jerry Ceppos
Whistle Blowing in the Public Sector
An introduction to the ethical issues surrounding government whistle blowers.
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Personal Lives of Public Officials
Ethical issues at the boundary between a politician's personal and public behavior
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Civility
An introduction to the ethical issues for public officials.
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Gifts and Bribes
An introduction to the ethical issues for public officials.
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Relationships Between Elected Officials and Staff
An introduction to the ethical issues that arise between city or county staff and councilmembers or supervisors.
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Favoritism, Cronyism, and Nepotism
An introduction to the ethical issues presented by favoritism in government.
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Introduction to Government Ethics
Basic material on the most common ethical issues in public service
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Conflicts of Interest in Government
An introduction to the ethical dilemmas posed by conflicts of interest in the public sphere.
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Campaign Ethics
An introduction to campaign ethics including ethical dilemmas, cases, and links
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Lobbying Ethics
An introduction to the ethical considerations in lobbying the government
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Open Meetings, Sunshine Laws, and Transparency in Government
An introduction to the topic including definitions, dilemmas, cases, and links.
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Campaign Ethics: Considerations for Candidates and Their Supporters
Key issues related to fundraising, communications, and campaign conduct
Judy Nadler
Ethical Considerations in Campaign Considerations
Ethical Considerations in Campaign Considerations
When to Step Down from the Board
At what point is a board member ethically obligated to step aside?
Kirk Hanson and Patrick Coutermarsh
Social Media and Government Ethics: Issues and Challenges
A video conversation about positive and negative impacts of social media on government
David Vossbrink and Miriam Schulman
Ethical Issues for Political Candidates
Concerns for voters and pointers for candidates on how to run an ethical campaign from experienced political consultants
Carrie Jaffe-Pickett
Dealing With Disaster: The Ethical Challenges
Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg discusses the ethics of disaster relief compensation
Kenneth Feinberg
It May Be Legal, but Is it Ethical? (Video)
A discussion distinguishing law and ethics in public sector decision making.
Joan Cassman and JoAnne Speers
What Government Officials Can Do to Raise the Ethical Issues
Tools for making ethics part of the decision making process in government
Joan Cassman and JoAnne Speers
It May Be Legal, but Is it Ethical?
Meeting of the Government Ethics Roundtable, August 2013
Law and Ethics in Public Service
Joan Cassman, attorney, and JoAnne Speers, executive director of the Institute for Local Government, distinguish between law and ethics
Carrie Jaffe-Pickett
Talking Turkey: A Case Study on Government Ethics
When a mayor participates in soliciting donations for a local foodbank, is he giving merchants the impression that they can't say no?
Judy Nadler
Transparency, Trust, and Campaign Finance
FPPC Chair Ann Ravel explores the impact of Citizens United on campaign finance in California
Miriam Schulman
Ethics in High Pressure Campaigns
Podcast of a Commonwealth Club discussion featuring Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson
Kirk Hanson
Ten New Rules for Elected Officials in Times of Economic Meltdown
Senior adviser to the International City/County Management Association advises public servants to focus on the core.
Frank Benest
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: Ethical Challenges for Local Government
Cities debate the best way to deal with medical marijuana
Miriam Schulman
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: Ethical Challenges for Cities
Ethical questions for municipal officials on allowing, siting, and monitoring medical marijuana dispensaries
Budgeting in a Time of Fiscal Crisis
San Jose City Councilmember Sam Liccardo lays out the ethical issues for public officials when they must make difficult budget decisions.
Miriam Schulman
Ethics, Gifts, and Public Officials
A video conversation on gifts to public officials and public agencies.
Roman Porter, Michael Martello, Melinda Hamilton,
'Fair' is in the eye of the beholder
The public pension reform debate hinges of different definitions of the concept of fairness.
Judy Nadler
How the Laws of California Are Really Made: Sponsored Legislation

Ethics at Noon: Ethics, Lobbying, and How the Laws of California Are Really Made
Karen de Sa, reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, and Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, discuss the influence of lobbyists on lawmaking in California. Nadler is the former mayor of Santa Clara, Calif. De Sa is the author of a Mercury News series on Sponsored Bills in Sacramento. Participants will include members of the Center's Public Sector Roundtable.
Oil Spill (podcast)
Managing possibly catastrophic risk
Emerging Issues Group
Public Sector Roundtable Ethics Hot Spots, May 2010
Challenges facing public officials
Gifts to Lawmakers and Public Employees: Evolving Policies
The director of the California Fair Political Practices Commission and government officials discuss behested payments, transparency, and gift policies
When Official Roles Conflict
A set of case studies on conflicts of interest for local officials
Web 1 and 2: Ethical Issues for Government Officials
A look at access and transparency issues created by the use of social media by public servants
Two Views of a Budget
A case study for state officials on resolving a budget crisis
Judy Nadler
Do We Have an Obligation to Vote?
An analysis of whether it is possible to make a rational case for the individual's responsibility to vote.
Scott LaBarge, introduced by Judy Nadler
On Ethics and Immigration
Arizona Governor looks at ethical issues in developing policy on illegal immigration.
Janet Napolitano
Putting Away the Gifts
The Center's senior fellow in government ethics recommends a no-gifts policy for public officials.
Judy Nadler
Ethics and City Hall
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed outlines reforms.
Suruchi Bhutani
San Jose Sunshine Reform Task Force Update
The task force considers recommendations for improving transparency and participation.
Ethics of Leaking
How to tell whether a leak is worth publishing--or taking seriously
Kirk O. Hanson and Jerry Ceppos
Future of Government Ethics: There's Hope
Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler extends the work of the Center into the classroom.
Miriam Schulman
Codes of Ethics and Values
Access to a wide variety of resources on how cities can develop ethical codes
Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman
Ethics and Leadership Camp for Public Officials 2006
Twenty-two city councilmembers, ethics commissioners, and other government officials gathered for the first summer workshop on instilling a culture of ethics in local government.
Judy Nadler
Evolution of Human Rights Norms and Machinery
Bertrand G. Ramcharan, former United Nations High Commissioner, offers his perspectives on the evolution of human rights norms and machinery.
Bertrand G. Ramcharan
What Would a Real Ethics Refresher Course Look Like?
Advice for the Congress and White House about ethical leadership.
Judy Nadler
On-Line Resources in Government Ethics
Links to articles, codes, and other materials about government ethics programs.
Creating a Culture of Ethics in the Public Sector
Remarks on government ethics presented at the World Bank
Judy Nadler
Nadler Named Woman of the Year
Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler has been selected as 'Woman of the Year' for the 22nd Assembly District.
Our debt to the future: Will our children pay for the negative consequences of our current choices
When is it appropriate to ask the next generation to pay bills we incur today?
Judy Nadler
Ethics in Contracting
Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, speaks at League of California Cities, US conference of Mayors, and Fire Academy.
Will city's ethics reform bear fruit? City Task Force Could Learn a Lesson from Picking Cherries
As San Jose's task force on ethics meets to review and revise ethics provisions of the San Jose Municipal Code, Judy Nadler offers the following observations on some similarities between picking cherries and addressing government ethics.
Judy Nadler
Politics, the Supreme Court, and Affirmative Action
The decision in Grutter v. Bollinger that it was constitutionally permissible for public colleges and universities to consider race in student admissions was transparently political, in the sense that the outcome was grounded more in the political choices of the justices and the surrounding political context than in any objective legal principles.
Brad Joondeph
Shocking thought: Get serious about ethics
What steps can be taken to rebuild public confidence in the independence of elected officials?
Judy Nadler
Ethical Political Leadership: Speaking Hard Truths
Some part of the responsibility for the unwillingness to speak the hard truths must rest with the public who are woefully mistrustful and uninformed about how government works.
Judy Nadler
Allocating and Stewarding Water Resources
The issues surrounding water-its availability, price, use, quality, and ownership-are affecting local governments and citizens on a regular basis.
Judy Nadler
Right of Way
As the California coastline changes because of the ocean's continual pounding, the question is asked who has access to the fluctuating landscape?
Rob Elder
Ethical Implications of California's Recall Election
A panel discussion with SCU professors of political science.
Ethics at Noon
Budget Crunch Ethics
A California State Assembly member discusses the ethical choices legislators face during a budget crisis.
Joe Simitian
Privacy vs. Security
The Center's Framework for Ethical Decision making is applied to privacy vs. security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
Bharath Krishnamurthy