This paper gives an account of various ethical issues that are affecting decision-making models by taking the case of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Seattle Regional Office. Ethical challenges emerge when workers face certain dilemmas when determining the proper action to pursue at an individual or organizational level.
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In this case, when EPA’s staff members faced ethical dilemmas due to the witnessed compelling forces towards workers’ choice of action, most of them stood firm to support decisions of moral principles. The pressure by the public administrator compelled the staff to adopt guerrilla tactics to ensure responsibility, credibility, and justice. In the EPA’s Seattle Regional Office, the major ethical issue was justice.
For instance, during the tenure of John Spencer as the Regional Offices administrator, Spencer did not consider the staff members’ decision. Therefore, he was inviting conflicts in the decision-making process (O’Leary, 2014). Questioning Spencer’s actions openly amounted to downgrading or relocation. This pressure became intense. As a result, EPA’s staff members sought to respond by engaging in guerrilla welfare.
EPA’s case shows that guerrilla governments arise majorly due to the inevitable tensions between bureaucracy and justice, which if not controlled, result in immense ethical dilemmas that public administrators should learn to avoid. In most cases, guerrilla governments are undetected since they are intertwined with the fabric of daily undertakings.
It can prove difficult for such bureaucracies to engage in constructive measures to navigate from this problem (U.S. Office of Government Ethics, 2000). Social injustice is highly manifested in Spencer’s administration. He influenced the authorities to show loyalty and/or take responsibilities of his decisions while covering his faults by ensuring that those who acted against him faced the consequences.
Political appointees were made to work against their moral principles while at the same time adhering to their superiors’ instructions. Since they lacked relevant decision-making skills, they ended up being susceptible to making dumb decisions that risked their careers (U.S. Office of Government Ethics, 2000).
The pressure to conform to EPA’s bureaucracies, despite the inevitable manifestation of injustice and lack of credibility, forced the career employees to retaliate by applying guerilla tactics. The urge to inform the press about the dire need for integrity and accountability was rising. Staff members were ready for more intense wrangles and organized informal meetings.
This move could give them a well-articulated direction to confront the regional administrator through well-braced guerilla welfare decisively. According to O’Leary (2014), EPA’s staff members believed that they were being used to serve the regional administrator and the political appointees rather than the public. However, initiating guerilla activities could help in resisting what was perceived to be improper activities.
Hence, through staff solidarity, EPA’s staff members could serve the public interest rather than an individual. Guerilla welfare resulted in favorable changes. For instance, Spencer faced several corruption allegations that were backed by the staff members, although he profoundly declined the allegations. However, he resigned as the regional administrator.
Staff members who supported guerilla activities were not ready to take any more responsibilities of faults that were committed by the political appointees. They decided to watch the political appointees as they (the appointees) made lousy decisions that could lead to the questioning of their credibility and appointment.
The failure by the regional staff to cooperate with the regional administrator demonstrated the will by the staff team to stage a more intense guerilla government. The EPA administration had embezzled funds, killed morale at the organization, and used political loyalty to appoint, promote, or fire staff members regarding their political affiliations.
This situation compromised the quality of service delivery to the public while at the same time denying workers their democratic rights to make decisions. In addition, the Civil Service Act was highly violated by the bureaucracies when they ignored the merit system for political patronage and loyalty. In an effort to curb guerilla governments, EPA leaders should be inclusive in decision-making processes.
During her reign as EPA’s administrator, Ernesta Barnes emphasized her commitment to working with everyone to embrace growth (O’Leary, 2014). Barnes was keen to act within the law. She worked closely with EPA’s staff members as a way of embracing the plan of consulting and correcting problems. This move enhanced morale while at the same time, reigniting self-esteem among the staff members.
Barnes enforced tough policies against pollutants. Besides, she ensured the upgrade of sewage treatment without allowing waivers of pollution laws. Unlike Spencer, Barnes ensured equity and justice for all. By dealing with the tolerant and the emerging social injustices, administrators can harness their efforts to make the desired changes to alleviate the possibilities of guerilla governments.
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Guerilla governments address mismanagement, social injustices, and public interest (U.S. Office of Government Ethics, 2000). For a decent advocate and a successful public administrator, working closely with the staff members through consultation is necessary.
Stubborn and conservative bureaucracies that ignore political neutrality encounter the challenge of managing guerilla employees. Since most government organizations lack the structures to handle the pressure from guerilla activities, it becomes inevitable for these organizations to develop an environment that incorporates and supports dialogue or debate during decision-making processes.
O’Leary, R. (2014). The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerilla Government. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
U.S. Office of Government Ethics. (2000). A brief wrap on government ethics. Web.