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Utilizing Integrity Officers To Address Ethical Concerns

Thirty-five City of Philadelphia employees volunteer as Integrity Officers serving as an ethics resource for fellow employees and to assist with ethics investigations. Every city department has such an officer, and anyone who has information on illegal or inappropriate behavior can turn to them.

According to Philadelphia Inspector General Amy Kurland the Integrity Officers “… help make government more honest, they don’t make any extra pay. We choose these people because of their integrity and work ethic. And they’re generally very pleased to have the position — it’s an honor.” Kurland says the integrity officers are often in a difficult position: fielding information about colleagues that could lead to disciplinary action or even a criminal investigation. “They’re not permitted to even tell their supervisors or their commissioners what they’re working on with us. So there’s a lot of tension sometimes between their jobs in the department and the work they do for us.”

The City of Philadelphia also has excellent ethics information on their web site under the heading Integrity Works.

What do you think about utilizing employee volunteers as Integrity Officers?


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David Dejewski

I’m on the fence about this one, Paul. A flash of the German Stasi informant system came to mind as I read this. I looks like a system that could easily be abused. Systems like this almost always start off with good intentions.

I suppose I don’t like the rift between the employee and supervisor, & I’m not comfortable with how the “Integrity Officers” are selected. How are integrity and work ethics measured?

On the other hand, a system that makes reporting and enforcing well documented ethics policy easier and/or more accessible to the average employee sounds like it could have its advantages.