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Ethics in Governance

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(Excerpts from the introduction to the 4th Report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission)

1.1 Ethics is a set of standards that a society on itself and which helps guide behavior, choices and actions. The commission is painfully aware that, standards do not, by themselves, ensure ethical behavior; that requires a robust culture of integrity. The crux of ethical behavior does not lie in bold words and expressions enshrined as standards, but in their adoption in action, in sanctions against their violations, in putting in place competent disciplianry bodies to investigate allegations of violations and impose sections quickly and in promoting a culture of integrity.

1.2 Corruption is an important manifestation of the failure of ethics. The word 'corrupt' is derived from the Latin word 'corruptus', meaning 'to break or destroy'. The word ethics is from the original Greek term 'ethikos' meaning 'arising from habit'. It is unfortunate that the corruption has, for many, become a matter of habit, ranging from grand corruption involving persons from high places to retail corruption touching the everyday life of common people.

1.3 Anti-corruption interventions so far made are seen to be ineffectual and there is widespread public cynicism about them. The interventions are seen mere posturing wiothout any real intention to bring the corrupt to book. They are also seen as handy weapons for partisan, political use to harass opponents. Corruption is so deeply enternched in the system that most people regard corruption as inevitable and any effort to fight it as futile. This cynicism is spreading so fast that it bodes ill for our democratic system itself.


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International Experience

Each of the three branches of federal government of the United States - executive, legislative and judicial - have "ethics" programs designed to prevent, address, and manage conflicts of interest on the part of the individual officers and employees of that branch. The executive branch ethics program is overseen by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and comprises four elements: Enforceable standards, a financial disclosure system, a program for training and counseling, and enforecement mechanism. The full content and scope of these elements were not enacted or developed together. Most have evolved over the last 30 years. But experiences during this period have led to changes in the program and will undoubtedly lead to more.

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Compilation of Training and Outreach Techniques


This compilation of training and outreach techniques for promoting public service ethics has been prepared as a companion resource for the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts' Task Force (ACT) September 16, 2010 workshop on “Successful Training Techniques for Promoting Public Service Ethics” in Sendai, Japan.  This workshop furthers, in a practical way, the use and implementation of the Conduct Principles for Public Officials adopted by APEC in 2007 in Australia.  While focused primarily on innovative and effective training for public officials on the codes of conduct and standards to which they should adhere as public officials, the workshop also encompasses the broader goal of creating public awareness of those same standards and a joint expectation of what is appropriate conduct for public officials.   

This document was compiled by the United States Office of Government Ethics, based on Internet research and responses to an email request for information sent to all ACT representatives.  It has been divided by audience (public servants, general public, and youth), and, where applicable, includes a short description of each idea or technique, followed by a few examples from APEC member economies.  It is, by no means, a comprehensive compilation of APEC economies’ training efforts, but rather a starting point for those who wish to explore this topic further.   

Most economies provide their public servants in-person training courses, as well as produce a series of publications (booklets, manuals, pamphlets, etc.)  While these types of resources form the backbone of an education program, this compilation focuses on the training and outreach practices that extend beyond these core initiatives.  The reader will also find that the majority, but not all, of the links are to English-language websites.

Economies are invited to send additional information (as well as corrections) for inclusion in any future versions of this document to wgpond[at]oge[dot]gov.  

Trainer’s guides/Facilitator Kits 

Several economies create standardized training guides or kits that ethics officials, integrity officers, or compliance officers can use to train public servants. These guides often come with videos, handouts, and lesson plans that include suggested discussion points. 


Being Professional in the Australian Public Service (APS) —Values Resources for Facilitators kit enables APS agencies (or their agents) to build their own programs that guide employees in decision-making and workplace discussion of the APS Values and the Code of Conduct.


The Japanese National Public Service Ethics Board has developed an “Ethics Training Package” for Ministries and Agencies so that they can undertake the effective ethics trainings.  The Package contains lecturer’s manual, PowerPoint slides, pop quiz sheets, role-play materials, case-study materials and corresponding video clip. The Ethics Training Package is standardized so that anybody in Ministries and Agencies can become a lecturer, but it can be flexibly customized according to the training needs. 

New Zealand: 

Resource kits developed by the State Services Commission, designed to support structured discussion among public servants about values and how they apply these to everyday situations and to help raise awareness and understanding about the identification and management of conflicts of interest. 

- Walking the Line: Managing Conflicts of Interest      

- Walking the Talk: Making Values Real  

- A Matter of Trust: Standards of Integrity and Conduct  

United States:

Are You Vulnerable to Conflicts? - This instructor-led course is designed to increase employees' ability to identify financial conflict of interest situations through the use of exercises.

Online Courses or Training Modules 

Online courses or training modules can be a cost-effective method for imparting training.  These modules do not require the amount of personnel hours and infrastructure that instructor-led training courses require.  Another benefit is the assurance of standardized information.  Online courses can also be integrated into online learning management systems that can track who has completed required training modules. 


Paving the Way: Values and Ethics Foundations for Employees is an online course available free-of-charge to Public Service employees.

United States:

The United States has a series of online training modules that cover a range of issues such as conflict of interest investigations, how to file financial disclosures, working with contractors, and many more subjects.

Online Speaker Request Form

Anti-corruption or ethics agencies will often send speakers to other government agencies to give talks about the existence and application of anti-corruption laws and rules.  An easy way to process these is through an online request form.


New South Wales’ Independent Commission Against Corruption makes officers available to address conferences and professional groups about the work undertaken by the ICAC.


Booking of Prevention Talks

Podcasts and Vodcasts

Podcasts and video podcasts (sometimes referred to as vodcasts) can be placed on a website and accessed at the user’s convenience.  They can be used to impart information about a specific subject, make announcements, share recorded interviews, and are often used in teaching modules. 


Australia’s Ethics Advisory Service has produced a series of brief videos showcasing ethical dilemmas that APS employees may encounter during their careers.

The Philippines: 

Podcasts from the Office of the Ombudsman cover a variety of issues, including those related to anti-corruption.  Past topics have included International Anti-Corruption Day, statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, and integrity development reviews.

Online tests/quizzes 

Online tests or quizzes can be a method for public servants to voluntarily check their knowledge and understanding of rules and regulations.  Online tests can also form part of a mandatory testing requirement, allowing administrators to check whether public servants are absorbing and understanding the information taught in online training modules.  

Hong Kong, China: 

Awareness Tests on Corruption Risks is a series of online videos paired with a quiz in which the participant must identify corruption issues.


Having visited its website, you may wish to test yourself on your knowledge of corruption-related matters and the work of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Board (CPIB), by answering the questions in the following quiz/game:  

Themed Campaigns

Designating a specific day, week or month as “anti-corruption day” or “ethics week” is an effective way to draw attention to anti-corruption issues or to build a culture of ethics.   These themed days, weeks, or months can encompass a variety of initiatives, designed to reinforce a singular message.  


The National Public Service Ethics Board holds an “Ethics Week” every December in cooperation with its ministries and agencies.  During “Ethics Week” the Board holds an ethics haiku (short verse) contest and encourages top administrative officials reach out to employees, for instance by making a speech or sending e-mails to employees. 

The Philippines: 

Ehem Aha Program is an anti-corruption initiative jointly implemented by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) and one of its partners, the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, a religious organization.  Seminars were started by the PPSJ in May 2001. The primary aim of this program is to create a graft-intolerant culture in Philippine society.  Two years later, it joined hands with the OMB to implement the Ehem Sensitivity seminars in all OMB offices nationwide as well as collaborate in the implementation of the Ehem Campaign in government.

Leadership Involvement 

Leadership at the top is the keystone for ensuring the integrity of an agency’s ethical culture.  Leadership can take an active role in the education of an agency by: 

- Being involved in the process of identifying training content, making independent suggestions or working with ethics officials to identify appropriate training content

- Including in the organization’s performance plan the development of specific ethics training projects such as videos, online training, pamphlets, and job aids

- Making a personal appearance at one or more ethics training session

- Participating in an ethics training session alongside employees

- Authoring a statement or speaking in a video segment to be used in ethics training sessions 

- Announcing new training initiatives undertaken by ethics program officials and encouraging employee participation 

Newsletters/Email Notices 

Some agencies create newsletters, ethics advisories, or "Did You Know?" e-mails to disseminate to public servants on a regular basis. Frequent dissemination of ethics or anti-corruption information keeps public servants aware of ethics in general and can also alert public servants to timely issues, such as gift rules during the holidays or upcoming deadlines. They can also be designed to include engaging material, such as quizzes, subject-matter crosswords, as well as in-depth analysis of specific issues.   Using e-mail for disseminating information is an efficient and cost-effective way to educate public servants year-round.

Hong Kong, China: 

International Anti-Corruption Newsletter

The Philippines: 

The Office of the Ombudsman produces several publications every year including the OMB Integrity Newsletter, OMB Journal and the Sentinel. 

United States:

DAEOgrams are memoranda from OGE to the executive branch Designated Agency Ethics Officials (DAEOs) providing guidance on how to interpret and comply with modifications or new issuances of conflict of interest regulations, standards of conduct regulations, or financial disclosure policies and procedures.