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Post # 1: Dent 

Is there Nepotism in the White House

      There has been much discussion about President Trump's appointment of his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner as two of his closest advisors.  Ivanka Trump's and Jared Kushner's roles in the Administration are highly unusual. Their appointments have raised concerns about the violation of federal nepotism laws. There have also been concerns about violating conflict of interest and ethics codes (American Oversight, 2020).  Appointing family members is not something new or unprecedented; there is a history of other presidents appointing and employing family members to key positions during their presidency.  

     Before 1967, for example, other former presidents such as John Adams appointed his son as a diplomat and as the U.S. ambassador to Prussia.  In later years, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower had family members as secretaries or aides in their Administration (Bomboy, 2016).  However, the most famous case of Nepotism was John F. Kennedy’s appointment of his brother to the U.S. Attorney General in 1961. John F. Kennedy also appointed his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, as the first head of the Peace Corps (Bomboy, 2016).  Afterward, Congress passed the Anti-Nepotism Statue 5. U.S.C. & 3110 - 1967, according to this statue, a public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official. This very statue prevented former president Carter from hiring his son as a White House intern, prevented Reagan from appointing a relative to an advisory committee, and prevented Obama from adding his brother-in-law and his half-sister to his staff (Rosen, 2017). According to Mr. Koffsky, a longtime career attorney currently in the Justice Department, the 1978 law essentially overrides the 1967 Anti-Nepotism law, giving the President broad authority to choose his advisers and staff within the West Wing (Rosen, 2017).  Although this appears like a double standard, it seems that the current white house legal counsel has claimed that the three previous former presidents received faulty counseling.

     Mr. & Mrs. Kushner claims to have eliminated all conflicts of interest concerning there financial affairs and their political position. Mr. Kushner stated that he has divested himself and has sold his assets to his brother and all other assets are in a trust managed by his mother. According to the U.S. Departmental Ethics Office: Conflicts of Interest – 18 U.S.C. & 208, the statute prohibits government employees from participating personally and substantially, on behalf of the Federal Government, in any particular matter in which he or she has a financial interest. It also states that all attempts must be made by the employee to avoid any appearance of loss of impartiality in the performance of your official duties.  

     Nevertheless, there are also issues with Mr. Kushner's top-secret clearance. He has currently made 39 revisions to his financial disclosures, has amended responses to the security questionnaire, and has added 100 foreign contacts that were omitted in his initial request (The Economist, 2018). However, his father-in-law intervened and demanded that he be issued the highest level of clearance to permit him to conduct white house foreign affairs. According to Helderman 2017, a lawyer who represents individuals in security clearance affairs, Mr. Kushner had red flags concerning his foreign affiliations, contacts, and his business interactions with foreign entities (Helderman, 2017).  However, Mr. Kushner continues to conducting high-level business in foreign affairs, and Mrs. Kushner (Ivanka) was awarded three trademarks on the day China Leaders dined at Mar-a-Lago (The Economist, 2018).  In one reported incident, Mr. Kushner pressed foreign investors from Qatar to bail out a heavily mortgaged skyscraper in his family's property portfolio at 666 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan (Schroth, 2006). However, he was unsuccessful in doing so. According to standards of ethical behavior these incidences are highly unethical and they certainly do not meet the ethical framework for making value-based decisions (Fischer, 2010). All government employees should be held to the same code of ethics and the highest ethical standards at all times.  As we can see in the past and currently, this may not be true when nepotism and cronyism come into the picture.    

    If Nepotism and cronyism are on the rise, then the white house must ensure that all ethical standards are met by all incumbents. With corruption, embezzlement, social and political inequities, unethical behavior, immorality on the rise as well, we should relook at the Anti-Nepotism Laws and reform them or at least ensure that if presidents are allowed to appoint family members and close associates, their selections should go through the same process as other civil servants or elected officials.  Civil Service Reform (1978) instituted a merit-based hiring system that reformers hoped to change the political and the economic framework of government administration that would reduce bribery, Nepotism, and favoritism (Sharifz and Hyde, 2017).  As asked by Joffe 2003, "Are not we Americans judged based on our abilities and achievements and our moral compass, rather than by advantages conferred through accidents of birth?

References

American Oversight (2020).  Ivanka Trump's and Jared Kushner's roles in the Administration.  Retrieved 2 Aug 20.  https://www.americanoversight.org/investigation/ivanka-trumps-role-in-the-administration

Bomboy, S. (2016).  The presidential nepotism debate goes back to the founders' time.  Constitution Daily. National Constitution Center. https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/presidential-nepotism-debate-goes-back-to-the-founders-time/

     Fischer, K. (2010). A biblical-covenantal perspective on organizational behavior and leadership.  file:///C:/Users/dion1/OneDrive/Documents/Covenant%20and%20Organizational%20Behavior.pdf

Helderman, R. S., (2017). "Justice Department opinion backs President Trump on the hiring of son-in-law" 1--00.  Washington Post. 

Joffe, A.H. (2003). Nepotism for all Times.  A Natural History.  New York:  Doubleday

 
 

Rosen, B. (2017). "Why Jared Kushner's appointment does not violate anti-nepotism laws." The Christian Science Publishing Society.  https://-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/A478630810/BIC?U=VIC_LIBERTY&SID=bic&xid=2235e76e. Accessed 1 Sep 2020. 

Schroth, P. W. (2006). "Corruption and Accountability of the Civil Service in the United Sates." American Journal of Comparative Law 54; 553-79.

Shafritz, J.M., & Hyde, A., (2017). Classics of Public Administration. 8th ed. Boston: Cengage  Learning

 

The Economist, (2018).  No rose without a thorn; Lexington. Vol. 426, Issue 9082, p. 34.  Economist Intelligence Unit  

U.S. Department of the Interior.  Government-Wide Ethics Laws. Standards of Ethical Conduct

for Employees of the Execution Branch, 5 C.F.R. Part 2635.

https://www.doi.gov/ethics/government-wide-ethics-laws

U.S. Departmental Ethics Office: Conflicts of Interest – 18 U.S.C. & 208.   https://www.oge.gov/Web/OGE.nsf/Resources/18+U.S.C.+%C2%A7+208:+Acts+affecting+a+personal+financial+interest

Post #2 : Kirk 

Healthcare Reform Study

Introduction

           Public administration tackles many world challenges.  Healthcare reform is an ongoing issue that is often intersected by public administration.  Data provided in the article, “Teasing apart “ the tangled web” of influence of policy dialogues: lessons from a case study of dialogues about healthcare reform options for Canada” (Gillian Mulvalve, Samantha McRae & Sandra Milicic, 2017) provides a background, methods, results, and conclusions of qualitative data that highlights important factors that are considered in designing and evaluating policy dialogues and in supporting knowledge exchange efforts (Mulvalve & alt, 2017)

Background  

           “ The implementation science literature similarly describes the implementation of research into practice as a complex and messy task” (Mulvalve & alt, 2017) that depends  on factors such as evidence, context and factors that facilitate the change process (Mulvalve & alt, 2017).  The goal was to understand the extent at which the policy dialouges influence subsequent activities in the policy realm (Mulvalve & alt, 2017). 

Methods

           Data sources in the study included: (1) eight video recordings of commentary from 27 dialogue participants, (2) 10 follow up key informant telephone interviews with policy-makers and (3) follow up phone conversations focusing on group interview involving five researchers that presented policy options in the dialogues (Mulvalve & alt, 2017). The research in each dialogue was based on pharmaceutical pricing and health technology assessment, hospital funding and physician remuneration, healthcare financing and social insurance, and policy options to improve healthcare sustainability (Mulvalve & alt, 2017).  The data was gathered over a period of a month and allowed interview guides to reflect on their dialogues in order to provide focused, accurate data. 

Results

           Data gathered gave evidence-based solutions from various places around the globe.  It is evident that taking time to discuss with frontline employees, leaders, administrators, and so forth allowed a much bigger perspective with outcomes that welcomed recommendations from those findings and conclusions that supported some of their very own hypothesis (Mulvalve & alt, 2017),  Two minds are always better than one.  Learning from other mistakes and triumphs is smart business.

Biblical worldview

           Christians are suppose to be good stewards; “we should insist that congress focus on laws that allow a system where people have an incentive to keep their costs low, because they are payers and keep the quality high, because they’re the ones using what they’re bringing” (“Thinking about Healthcare,” 2017).  Christians are known for compassion and stewardship.  Majority of hospitals were started by Christians; therefore, Christians should be involved in changes (“Thinking about Healthcare,” (2017).  In Matthew 25:40 we are reminded that “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  We, as Christians should want to be involved in helping one another. 

Conclusion

The policy cycle starts with agenda setting, ideas, formulation and decision making, external policy incentives, implementation and lastly evaluation (Mulvalve & alt, 2017).  The data supported by Mulvalve and his colleagues is profound in the sense that all the findings were supportive in the role that “policy dialogues can play in developing individual , organizational, and system level capacities for policy reform , as has been discussed in the literature” (Mulvalve & alt, p. 14). 

Understanding why ethics and public administration are essential is important to properly tie it all together.  Ethics is defined as “a set of moral issues or aspects” (Merriam-Webster, 2019).  Public Administration is defined as “a branch of political science dealing primarily with the structure and workings of agencies charged with the administration of government functions” (Merriam-Webster, 2019).  Ethics and public administration are two things that are hard to swallow with the current state of our government and the questionable ethical behavior that has been in question since government began.

Public administration plays a role in may facets of everyday life.  The “moral relativism is perplexing” (P. Roberts & K. Wernstedt, 2019) in the sense that public ethics and authenticity of offices is commensurable with this view: those who hold office of supreme responsibility, must obey” (F. Marini, 1992).

References

Einolf, C. (2016). The Ethics and Politics of Torture. Public Administration Review., 76(2), 354–357. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.12516

Marini, F. (1992). The Uses of Literature in the Exploration of Public Administration Ethics: The Example of Antigone. Public Administration Review, 52(5), 420-426. doi:10.2307/976801

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2019). Merriam-Webster.Com. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

Mulvale, G., McRae, S. A., & Milicic, S. (2017). Teasing apart “the tangled web” of influence of policy dialogues: Lessons from a case study of dialogues about healthcare reform options for canada. Implementation Science, 12 doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1186/s13012-017-0627-3

Patrick S. Roberts, Kris Wernstedt. (2019) Herbert Simon’s Forgotten Legacy for Improving Decision Processes. International Public Management Journal 22:4, pages 591-616.

Shafritz, J. M., & Hyde, A. C. (2016). Classics of public administration (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage: 9781305639034

Thinking About Healthcare from a Christian Worldview Perspective. (2017, May 4). Summit Ministries. https://www.summit.org/resources/articles/thinking-healthcare-christian-worldview/

  

Post #3: Graham 

The Network Governance of Crisis Response

This case study focuses on the Incident Command System (ICS).  ICS is responsible for ensuring a coordinated multi-layered response from organizations in the United States during crises. The Department of Homeland Security mandates ICS and is characterized as having a command and control style management. ICS had been created from the need to fight forest fires and evolved to an overall crisis response department. Inherently there needed to be trust amongst the staff.  It is important to note, trust was a factor that was many times observed to be relationship driven, developed through established personal and professional relationships (Moynihan, 2009, p.895).  

Additionally, the evaluation of this system is critical as it relates to the assigned videos for this week.  Within this hierarchy there are many people, many personalities and many engaged leaders that help to ensure that their direct reports are motivated, empowered, and informed. This is pertinent as Fischer discussed inputs and outputs, with inputs focusing on our abilities and personalities while outputs were defined as behaviors a related to job performance and satisfaction. As one could imagine would be no easy feat, especially considering the ultimate responsibility that they have. These are people whom are responsible for responding to crises and in essence helping others during some of their most difficult times in life, which may be one of the primary motivators for them. Fischer also notes, for organizations to be successful individuals have to be cared  for. Our Bible tells us, let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others ( ESV).

Moreover, ICS serves the public in an administrative capacity. That alone creates controversy and inevitably some sense of doubt as many people are often leery about government officials. Decision making can be challenging at any level and forces others to think critically and often requires selflessness. Public administrators constantly face the need and difficulty of keeping authority of their official role separate from inappropriate aspects of their personality and personal circumstances (Marina, 1992,p.3). We need to be wary of notions that one's conscience will suffice in ethical dilemmas (Marina, 1992, p.4). As it goes, the legislature, often because of a fortuitous combination of political factors, enacts a law. An administrative agency becomes responsible  for its execution, and the legislative will is thus in a sense institutionalized  and personified (Shafritz, J.& Hyde, A.,2017, p.102)

Equally relevant and necessary is transparency and trust. It is the responsibility of our leaders to try and create some sense of trust and accountability. This is accomplished in many ways. The public also plays a role in ensuring government officials are not placing their own interests before the public good. Government leaders are required to annually report their financial holdings. Agencies are required to make these reports available to the public (Government Ethics and Accountability, July 2020). In the book of 2 Corinthians 1:12 it tells us that For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.

Furthermore, decision making requires values—character, ethical, work, and personal. Ethical values, are simply a reflection of the preferences of an individual or a group. Within this framework, administrators should make correct factual decisions but cannot expect to apply the same criterion to ethical ones (O'Reilly, 2014, p.372). As a false practice, torture not only produces false virtues but also false goods: truth, enemies, and more torturers (Einolf, 2106). Conflicts of Interest statue prohibits a Government employee from participating personally and substantially, on behalf of the Federal Government, in any particular matter in which he or she has a financial interest (Doi.gov)

Lastly, Fischer speaks to the importance of organizations creating consensus on goals. Increasing emphasis on how organizations can motivate their employees to perform at a higher level. Incentives are often considered ethically superior to regulations because they are voluntary rather than coercive. But incentives can also be viewed as one way to get others to do what they otherwise would not; that is, as a form of power (Grant, 2015). All of this holds true as 1 Corinthians 15:33 tell us, Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals”(Holy Bible, ESV).

Every strength is a weakness on the other side of the coin.

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