making local government more ethical

ELEPHANTS, ETHICS AND ENIGMAS

A PRACTITIONER’S ANALYSIS OF MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT ETHICS AND ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRAMS IN THE UNITED STATES

The Blind Men and the Elephant is an ancient Hindu fable that illustrates the tendency for a person to think that he has grasped the whole of a situation when, in fact, only a part of it is understood. This will be shown to be the case with government ethics programs based on a study of twelve municipalities of varying populations in the United States. It is a global concern that, as a result of inefficient, wasteful and corrupt dissipation of limited resources, services are diminished and the public trust lowered. This article explores various models for anti-corruption and ethics programs that have evolved in the U.S. and suggests avenues for research that could benefit municipalities in the challenging task of implementing reforms.

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