Impartiality and Non-partisanship

Impartiality and Non-partisanship

Impartiality and Non-partisanship Impartiality is a norm of justice holding that decisions should be based on objective standards, instead of on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the advantage to one person over another for unsuitable reasons. Impartiality is acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving equally well governments of different political persuasions. Impartiality means that civil bureaucrats in carrying out their official work, including functions like procurement, recruitment, delivery of services etc., should take decisions based on merit alone. Impartiality implies that the behaviour of, and treatment by a bureaucrat to any individual or entity has to be exclusively on the basis of merit. An administrator has to take numerous major decisions such as recruitment, procurement and allotment. To make such decisions effective and efficient, there has to be absolute impartiality. Impartiality is the eminence of a person where one is impartial while allocating any goods or services among several people or selecting a person from a set of people based on certain set of abilities.

One must:

  • serve the Government, whatever its political persuasion, to the best of your ability in a way which maintains political impartiality and is in line with the requirements of this Code, no matter what your own political beliefs are;
  • Act in a way which deserves and retains the confidence of Ministers, while at the same time ensuring that you will be able to establish the same relationship with those whom you may be required to serve in some future Government; and
  • Comply with any restrictions that have been laid down on your political activities.

One must not:

  • Act in a way that is determined by party political considerations, or
  • Use official resources for party political purposes; or
  • Allow your personal political views to determine any advice you give or your actions.

It can be very hard to follow the above advice, especially when a Minister or Special Adviser does not share your view of the borderline between ‘explaining’ a policy and ‘defending’ it.  It is even more difficult if you strongly support – or strongly object to – decisions that have been made, or might be made, by Ministers. It is not always possible to hide those views from colleagues, and it is sometimes difficult to hide them from those outside the Government with whom you come into frequent contact. But it is absolutely essential that you give no sign that you oppose the principles and underlying thrust of the Government’s policies, nor must you suggest that you do not respect your Minister.

It can be even more difficult to follow the above advice where minor decisions are concerned. (‘Of course I will try to get him to open your conference. It’s an important occasion’). But you will learn from bitter experience that the advice is sensible, for it is embarrassing all round when the Minister refuses to do what you suggest. There is, I am afraid, no alternative to sounding rather pathetic and merely promising that the case will be put to the Minister, adding that you cannot predict the result. Quite simply, it should never be possible for anyone to be able to criticise Ministers for failing to take your advice. And it is even more important that incoming Ministers should be unaware of the extent or otherwise of your personal support for their predecessors’ policies.

Ethical conduct of a civil servent

In the public administration organizations the civil servants are exercising their power of decision, day by day in many ways. Whether the action involves managing public resources in their role of interface with citizens or in the context of policy making, ethics represent a vital factor in creating and maintaining trust in government and its institutions. Yet public sector ethics must be understood as an activity and not as a statute.

Encouraging ethical behaviour is not just a list of rules or statutes to be achieved. For any public administration organizations, ethics means a continuous management process that supports business and government and is becoming a key factor for the functioning and development of the government.  Preventing corruption and improving public service management is the primary goal of promoting ethical standards for civil servants. Many governments have reviewed their policies on ethical conduct in public service being preoccupied by the problem of corruption and the declining trust in government.

Accountability

In ethics and governance, accountability is answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) and individual contexts. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

Internal rules and norms as well as some independent commission are mechanisms to hold civil servants within the administration of government accountable. Within department or ministry, firstly, behavior is bound by rules and regulations; secondly, civil servants are subordinates in a hierarchy and accountable to superiors. Nonetheless, there are independent “watchdog” units to scrutinize and hold departments accountable; legitimacy of these commissions is built upon their independence, as it avoids any conflicts of interests. The accountability is defined as “an element which is part of a unique responsibility and which represents an obligation of an actor to achieve the goal, or to perform the procedure of a task, and the justification that it is done to someone else, under threat of sanction”.

Courage

Having courage of conviction is imp for public service because its helps one to take bold decisions that can have effect on millions of people in one stroke. Having courage to do what one believes is best for the community requires awful lot of mental strength. This courage of conviction also helps in taking further decisions in the same line.

Objectivity

Objectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to reality and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Generally, objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside a subject’s individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings.

Objectivity is the last public administration core value. It entails respect, equality, and fairness. It doesn’t matter whether someone has money or not, they must be treated fairly. Discrimination plagues the world, and it is a public administrator’s job to make sure that the laws created do not infringe on any person’s rights. Everyone should be treated equally and with respect.  It is never ok for a public administrator to belittle anyone based on political, cultural, or religious beliefs because that is not acting professionally. It is ok to have opinions, but this core public administration value means that everyone should be treated fairly regardless of socioeconomic status.

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