Welcome to Ethical Foundations for Public Service!

Ethical Foundations for Public Service

Part 1 : Philosophy and Principles

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

Become familiar with the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Laws: A Guide for Public Officials.

Be encouraged to understand the laws, policies and procedures, guidelines and OSU practices to guide day-to-day work.

Consider ways to affirmatively define and example the principles of public service at OSU.


This module is Part 1 of a 3-Part online series. It provides an overview of the philosophical and broader principles of ethics for public servants to help guide you when faced with possible ethical issues. Much of the content is cited from different sources, therefore the principles and guidelines provided may overlap at times in terminology and concepts.

The module will include areas for you to think through the ethical principles outlined to help you transfer ideas into your place of work.


Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission

The Government Standards and Practices Commission was established in January 1975 and is composed of seven members. Its mission is to fairly and impartially administer the regulatory provisions of ORS Chapter 244, Oregon Government Standards and Practices law; ORS 171.725 to 171.785 and 171.992, Lobby Regulation and Oregon Public Meetings law; ORS 192.660, efficiently, expediently and with the highest possible emphasis on customer service for complainants, respondents and the general public of Oregon. Records of the Commission are public record.

The Oregon Government Standards and Practices Laws guide is not designed to prevent conflicts of interest from arising, but to help you know the appropriate action to take when potential or actual conflicts occur.


You are a public official if you serve the State of Oregon or any of its political subdivisions or any other public body of the state as an officer, employee, agent, or otherwise, and irrespective of whether the person is compensated for such services.


The Code of Ethics prohibits certain conduct. For instance, you may not:

  1. Use your public office either to obtain financial gain or avoid financial detriment for:
  • Yourself;
  • Your household; or
  • A business in which you or a member of your household is associated.
  1. Use confidential information received because of your public office for private gain.
  2. Solicit or receive a promise of future employment with the understanding that such employment will influence your official action. In addition, the following are prohibited from being employed (one year) or from lobbying (two years) after leaving office, with or on behalf of the entities they regulated:
  • Public Utility Commissioner
  • Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services
  • Insurance Commissioner
  • Supervisor of the savings and loan, credit union and consumer finance sector
  • Supervisor of the banking sector
  1. Solicit or receive, during a calendar year, gifts with an aggregate value of over $50 from a source that has a legislative or administrative interest in your office. (Gifts from relatives, campaign contributions, or your own travel reimbursement from the host or sponsor of an office-related event are not prohibited)
  2. Solicit or receive campaign contributions during a regular session for legislative or statewide officials, political candidates and associated campaign committees.