Chamberlin: "It's everybody's job to keep city hall paying attention"

April 23, 2012
The city manager of Alexandria, Va., has instituted a new ethics initiative following a series of criminal charges against city workers in 2011, The Alexandria Times reported Monday. The eight incidents, which included charges of forgery, embezzlement, and drunk driving, led city manager Rashad Young to create an ethics committee of city employees, a whistleblower hotline, and mandatory training and retraining, among other reforms.

Ford School Professor of Public Policy John Chamberlin told The Times that such reforms are necessary when the organizational culture fails to curtail inappropriate behavior.

"It is everybody's job to keep city hall paying attention to these things and doing the right thing," Chamberlin said. "It's not just one person, it's everybody's responsibility. There needs to be some sort of reinforcement of that once a year and some recognition of the people who go the extra mile and do the right thing."

Chamberlin added that ethical lapses by public servants have the added consequence of shaking the public's trust.

"I think people who work for government ought to feel a sense of responsibility to the community and when they let the citizens down, it makes it harder for everybody else in the city government to do their job well," Chamberlin said.