Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ethical Govt. as a Campaign Issue

As I mentioned in my first posting, I would like the presidential candidates to tell us how they might "reform/change" government by answering the following question:

"Will you make it safe for government workers to point out
waste, fraud or abuse, without the fear of losing their jobs?"

So I have an idea on how to get the presidential candidates to start talking about this, and I would like to know what you think.

I'll give you the web-links below, but try to follow me here for a minute.

I was browsing around the EthicsPoint website and found a page about how any federal agency can simply "buy" their services for operating a "whistleblower hotline" (e.g., via a website) just as if they were buying office furniture or copy-paper (i.e., without a bidding process).

[BTW: That means that any federal agency can allow whistleblowing tomorrow without an Act of Congress (i.e., trying to improve the failed Whistleblower Protection Act).]

BUT then I noticed, in the left-hand column, a link to the "Ethics & Compliance Officers (ECOA) National Conference" next week in Orlando, FL, which lead to me to their conference agenda, with sessions like this:

"Dangerous Silence: What Employees Won't Tell You, Why, and
What You Can Do about It"

"Optimizing Corporate Ethics and Compliance
Programs in the Federal Government"

So it appears that the people attending this conference (i.e., ethics and compliance officers) are the very people most qualified to judge whether a candidate actually "gets it", or if he is just spouting empty rhetoric.

Now I wouldn't expect the candidates to rearrange their schedules to attend the ECOA conference, and it still might be too much to even arrange a teleconference. So I'm thinking that maybe the ECOA could ask both campaigns to send a short (5-minute max.) video of each ticket's candidate(s) responding this simple, straightforward question, so that the ECOA conference attendees can then "confer" about it.

"Will you make it safe for government workers to point out
waste, fraud or abuse, without the fear of losing their jobs?"

In the interest of fairness, the videos could be "embargoed" until shown to the ECOA conferees, so that no candidate could tailor their his/her remarks based on the others'. And, after the viewing, the videos could be posted on YouTube for everyone else to see, and the media could interview conferees to get their assessment of the candidate's statements, while drawing a LOT of publicity to the ECOA mission and its members.

So what do you think? Got an idea of your own?

Please share your thoughts here, or contact me directly and, in the meantime, I'll go see if ECOA (or some other similar group) is interested in picking up on this.

--- SB

1. Any federal agency can buy a "whistleblower hotline/website" right now:

2. ECOA National Conference agenda (and link to ECOA homepage):

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