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How Can You Measure The Effectiveness Of Ethics Education?

Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010

I am sometimes asked how can I evaluate the success of ethics education? Is it measured by the number of public officials that don't get into trouble? Do fewer ethics investigations mean a program is effective?

These can be  tough questions to answer, but I just learned of one example that shows people are paying attention and taking action.

Over the past few years I have been using the Ethics Center Web site to post case studies, op-eds, and other resources for learning more about ethics and values in government.  Joan McBride of Kikland, Washington has been following these, and has called on occasion with general questions about ethics codes.

This week Mayor McBride's efforts and those of her colleagues and an Ethics Task Force have led to the introduction of a code of ethics. The code would be applied to city boards, commissions, and councilmembers, and calls for greater disclosure.

"I have to admit that this thing made me nervous because I kept seeing instances where I personally could be considered, shall I say, at risk," said Deputy Mayor Penny Sweet.

It is precisely for this reason that local government should study, craft, and adopt a code of ethics and values.

Although I'm still hard-pressed to cite statistics about the effectiveness of government ethics education, the city of Kirkland has given me great anecdotal information.


Tags: ethics codes, Kirkland, State of Washington

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