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Misconduct in the governmental workplace
by Jeff Blanck
Jul 14, 2008 | 789 views | 7 7 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I just read the results of the National Governmental Ethics Survey conducted by the Ethics Resource Center. According to our governmental employees, the overall rate of observed misconduct across all levels of government is nearly 60 percent. The highest levels of misconduct were at the local level at 62 percent with the lowest level of observed misconduct being at the federal level at 52 percent.

Some of the most common types of observed misconduct were the following:

• Conflict of interest: 27 percent

• Lying: 28 percent

• Abusive or intimidating behavior: 25 percent

The employee’s poor perception of management results in fewer complaints being made. Employees are afraid of retaliation. They have the perception that nothing will be done about it anyway. Most reports of misconduct are made to the immediate supervisor not through whistle blower hotlines.

The high rate of observable misconduct and the poor perception of senior management increases the feeling of futility, which leads to a lack of reporting ethical violations.

The survey disclosed that 21 percent of government employees feel that leadership is not held accountable for violations of ethical standards, 25 percent believe that upper management tolerates retaliation against those who do report misconduct and 30 percent do not believe that top leaders keep their promises or commitments.

What this boils down to is that more than two-thirds of the public work force observes misconduct. Between one-fourth to one-third of the work force do not trust upper management.

I worked for one government agency where a survey revealed that 73 percent of the employees thought about quitting their job on a daily basis.

How much motivation would you have to do your job well, if you saw your boss regularly abusing the system? Worse yet, if you point out a problem, you know you could be subjected to discipline. Even if there are regulations prohibiting retaliation, an employee can be put through the ringer to protect his job.

So what is the solution? How can we raise the level of ethical conduct among our public entities?

First, we need elected officials that care. This really has to be fixed from the top down. Second, we can encourage the public employee unions to raise these issues with management. Then it won’t be a single individual, but a group at large that is raising the issue.

Local 4041 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is doing just that. The Union is pushing for more accountability of managers who commit misconduct.

With the help of some of our elected officials we may be able to change the trend of government misconduct.

Governmental employees are in a prime location to help stop the misconduct. They should be encouraged to do just that.

Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at
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July 20, 2008
It appears the Unions in the City of Sparks are refusing to endorse Chet Adams for City Attorney. However, wouldn't you know it, Adam Garcia, the embattled UNR Police Chief (if you've read the latest on him, he sounds like a clone of Chet Adams), endorses "the perverted one." The Unions and other employees are afraid of retaliation by "the perverted one." Thus, they all remain afraid to report misconduct. Kudos to the brave women who did come forward on their own to report the horrific treatment by "the perverted one," aka CHET ADAMS.
July 19, 2008
Didnt Chet Adams get caught masturbating in his office?? That guy must REALLY like his job, lol
July 16, 2008
the real chet adams will come out after the primary when he starts running a dirty campaign. that is the only way he knows how to do anything. the guy who gave Carrigan money and then carrigan voted on his project will be running adams campaign. And Carrigan can't figure out why he is in trouble with the ethics commission?
July 16, 2008
I would also add sexual harassment, retaliation, "sexual discrimination (if you fail to retreat to his "come-ons), sexual predatation, degradation, threats, and literally ruining peoples' careers to his list of lying and intimidating tactics. That would be CHET ADAMS I am talking about.
July 16, 2008
We can fix that as it relates to Adams by making sure his lying, cheating ass is turned out of office in November!
no joke
July 16, 2008
if you only knew the half of it.... referring to chet adams life in government
JOHN 3:16
July 15, 2008
This article could be titled "The story of city attorney Chet Adams life in government".
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