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date: 19 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Public service is a calling distinct from academic education and research or business pursuits. For the career federal economist, the imperative to serve the public interest in a complex political setting introduces the potential for ethical dilemmas unique to government. Although the rewards of public service are considerable, the economist recognizes the possible tension between political goals and interests and the economist’s concern for professional independence and objectivity. Such friction with politics may on occasion result in suppression or alteration of results or analysis, direction to produce support for decisions already taken, and disagreement over policy decisions. To deal thoughtfully with these challenges, federal economists should be better prepared to think explicitly about ethics, have appeal to an external ethical standard, and advocate for the creation of legitimate internal government dialogue on ethics.

Keywords: ethics, government, independence, objectivity

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