making local government more ethical

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Ethics Training

Robert Wechsler
It's not easy to make ethics training enjoyable, so it's good to see how other people have tried. According to an article in Human Resource Executive, Cisco Systems came up with a parody of American Idol, with parody songs about ethics situations and three judges critically discussing each song/...
Robert Wechsler
How often should ethics commissions meet?

The usual answer to that question is, As often as they need to. But how often is that?

That depends on their responsibilities. If all they do is respond to complaints and requests for advisory opinions, then they need only meet when they receive one or the other.

But what about ethics training? Even if they are not required to train or oversee training of local government officials and employees, they need to be...
Robert Wechsler
One argument rarely made for effective government ethics programs is that they will prevent government officials from being prosecuted for "honest services fraud."

Honest services fraud is to bribery what manslaughter is to murder. Sort of. By this I mean that many officials accused of bribery plead down to honest services fraud, a lesser, but still serious crime (the maximum sentence is 20 years).

Here's the statutory definition of honest services fraud (18 U.S.C. §...
Robert Wechsler
Ethics training is a problem at the local level. It's expensive, and there aren't many experienced local government ethics trainers around. Online ethics training has recently become the answer, but even this is difficult to get people to do. As I wrote a couple of years ago in a blog entry and a comment to the City Ethics Model Code, many officials...