Awareness of values and ethical principles to be promoted in public administration
On Wednesday 21 November, the government approved the Cabinet of Ministers regulation “Values and Ethical Principles of the Public Administration”, which aims to promote a common understanding of values and ethical principles in public administration, as well as to embody a values-based culture, thus, improving public confidence and ensuring the quality of decision-making.
The new regulation, which is adopted in form of a recommendation (form of a legal act), will apply to the Cabinet’s subordinate institutions and their employees (subordinate institutions of ministries, Prime Minister, Cabinet of Ministers, including specialized civil service and officials with special service ranks and the ministries).
“Procedures, orders and control play a less important role in organisations with strong value systems, because the conduct of employees is guided by the values. Defining the values can thus be one of the ways in which public administration can put the current tendency of organisational development – to reduce bureaucracy and control – into practice,” as highlighted in the Baltic Institute for Social Sciences’ Study “On the Future Role and Development of the Public Administration” (2015).
The draft recommendation stipulates that employees in the public administration act in accordance with the following values:
- professionalism and effectiveness;
- work for the public good;
- sustainability of the state and public wellbeing;
- public administration that is transparent and accessible to public;
- co-operation in the public administration.
“A values-based culture in the public administration will allow us to consider the outcome, be more flexible, see the bigger picture, become more open to changes and, at the same time, position people at the very centre and come up with the solutions that are in accordance with public needs,” underscores Jānis Citskovskis, Director of State Chancellery.
The leaders and their example play an important role in ensuring a conduct that complies with the values and ethical principles. That is why the recommendation sets particular requirements for leaders, for example, to promote employees’ awareness, to act in accordance with the requirements they set for their subordinates. The recommendation also envisages the promotion of openness in the communication with the lobbyists by defining its main principles: openness, equality and honesty, providing information on the lobbyists with whom the communication has taken place.
The recommendation stipulates that within a year the existing codes of ethics must be revised and the institutions have to replace them with the Cabinet of Ministers’ recommendation or update them accordingly. Every institution will have to elect or appoint one or several fiduciaries in ethical issues, who will consult the employees and promote understanding of values and ethics.
The recommendation builds on the opinions of people working in public administration and of the Council for Development of Public Administration Policy, as well as the results of the State Chancellery’s administrative personnel survey “Administrative Personnel’s Opinion on Values and Ethical Principles”, conducted in May of this year. 95.1% of the administrative personnel that participated in the survey noted that it is important for them to understand the values and ethical principles of the public administration and to act in accordance with them.
The recommendation complies with the OECD requirements to define high standards of behaviour for the public officials and to promote the respect for values of the public administration. The international tendency in public administration to move towards working culture that is based on values and work results and where people and the work for public good are at the centre has been taken into consideration.
The OECD calls on the Member States to develop professional, public administration based on objective achievements that acts in accordance with the values of public administration and the principle of good governance (OECD, Recommendation of the Council on Public Integrity, 2017).
In order to transpose the values and principles laid down in the recommendation into practice, methodological guidelines and e-learning module will be developed, as well as a discussion cycle will be organized in each sector. In the future, it is intended to link the principles of public administration and ethics with the human resource development policy, including competences, performance management and training while implementing the Public Administration Reform Plan 2020.
Consultant of the Communication Department