In Municipal Government financial reporting: Administrative and Ethical Climate, Sanders, Berman and West (1994) state that financial disclosure and professional development are very vital in public administration, especially in municipal governments. Equally, Feldhein and Wang (2004) in Ethics and Public Trust: Results from a National Survey, point out the significance of professional ethics in public administration. They examine the relationship between public trust and administrative ethics. They argue that the public is more likely to trust an administration whose employees are portraying professional and ethical behavior.
Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Code of Professional Ethics
Municipal Government Financial reporting: Administrative and Ethical Climate
Sanders, Berman and West (1994) argue that quality financial reporting and information disclosure is vital in government institutions. They state that stakeholders, such as oversight bodies, citizens, creditors and legislators, might require information relating to program and debt management, tax rates, legal compliance and credit worthiness. The authors argue that failure to provide relevant and accurate financial information weakens the institution’s capacity to govern. Their argument is supported by the sixth section of the GFOA Code of Professional Ethics. It states that Government finance officers shall demonstrate professional integrity in the issuance and management of information (GFOA, n.d.). According to the Sanders, Berman and West (1994), federal, state, and municipal governments should adopt the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) while disclosing financial information.
The article has also encourages senior employees in municipal governments, such as Chief Executive Officers and Chief Financial Officers, to continuously familiarize themselves with professional ethics and accounting standards to enable them perform their duties effectively and efficiently. This is supported by section three of the GFOA Code of Professional Ethics, Professional Development (GFOA, n.d.). Government finance officers are expected to promote excellence in public service delivery by improving and maintaining their competence and that of their colleagues.
Ethics and Public Trust: Results from a National Survey
Feldhein and Wang (2004) urge public servants to build mutual trust between themselves and citizens. They are advocating for the abolition of fiduciary trust and asymmetrical relationships that prevent the involvement of the public in decision-making. A symmetrical relationship between civil servants and the public will open up communication channels. In doing so, they will also be promote information disclosure. Their opinion is supported by section five of the GFOA Code of Professional Ethics, Professional Integrity – Relationships (GFOA, n.d.). The code requires public servants to exhibit trust and loyalty while serving citizens.
Role of Ethics in Public Financial Management
Both articles provide vital assistance in regards to comprehending the importance of professional ethics in public financial management. The authors have expressed the need for government finance officers to adapt and practice professional codes of ethics. Sanders, Berman and West (1994) have encouraged public officers to adopt GAAP and disclose financial information to stakeholder. Apart from enhancing trust from stakeholders, these practices will enable government institutions to indentify any malpractices and seek professional advices from external stakeholders. Furthermore, the authors have expressed the need for civil servants, especially senior officers, to familiarize themselves with professional ethics and accounting standards. This will prevent them from unknowingly operating their activities in a manner that contravenes the GAAP.
Conversely, Feldheim and Wang (2004) have pointed out the need for public servants to build mutual trust among themselves and the public. Lack of stakeholders trust may have negative impacts on an institution’s image. The public might think that financial officers are carrying out accounting malpractices, such as fraud, and prevents stakeholders from accessing full financial information.
Feldheim, M. A., & Wang, X. (2004). Ethics and Public Trust: Results from a National Survey. Public Integrity, 6, 1, 63-75. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcism.my%2Fcismv2%2Fuploads%2Farticles%2Farticle%2F201106151432310.ethics%2520and%2520public%2520trust.pdf&ei=zxJVUoWBH8G00wXl_4DQCQ&usg=AFQjCNFmezvZUi7xZAwQ7LO5LqTeH0LX2g&sig2=ChsLvKvi9JrUJa3MP_3UMA&bvm=bv.53760139,d.d2k
Government Finance Officers Association. (n.d.). GFOA Code of Professional Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.gfoa.org/downloads/CCIcode-of-ethics.pdf
Sanders, G., Berman, E. M., & West, J. P. (1994). Municipal Government Financial Reporting: Administrative and Ethical Climate. Public Budgeting and Finance, 14, 2, 65-78. doi: 10.1111/1540-5850.01007
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