Read the executive summary on this page and download the pdf for the full report.
What We Found
Results from our 2016 survey show that the County’s ethical culture is generally strong. For example, most survey takers agree that County expectations for ethical behavior are clear and employees are expected to treat all members of the public equally. While overall results are positive, the County can do a better job of strengthening its ethical culture and addressing issues related to reporting ethical violations or concerns. Some employees commented on reporting-related concerns such as where and how to report as well as fear of reporting and concerns of backlash or retaliation.
Survey takers from some employee sub-groups such as people of color, and employees in DCJ and MCSO, were more likely to report negative perceptions on some questions, as were those who declined to state their department.
Why We Conducted the County Ethical Culture Survey
The mission of the Auditor’s Office is to ensure that Multnomah County government is efficient, effective, equitable, transparent, and fully accountable to residents. One way we work toward this mission is by supporting an ethical culture. We conducted the survey to learn how County employees perceive the County’s ethical culture. Our findings provide County leadership, staff, and new Board members with baseline information on our collective understanding of the County’s ethical culture.
What We Recommend
Survey results suggest that the County could strengthen the ethical culture through efforts such as:
- County elected officials building connections with employees and helping create environments in which staff are comfortable raising ethical concerns;
- Supervisors taking steps to create environments where it is safe to discuss ethical issues;
- Carefully studying the current system for reporting ethical concerns, including ensuring retaliation will not be tolerated;
- The Auditor’s Office working to increase awareness of the Good Government Hotline;
- Examining the County’s current ethics training options for alignment with best practices; and
- Examining the Code of Ethics for gaps, and considering making the Code stronger than minimum state standards for ethical behavior.
We recommend the Chair of the Board of County Commissioners direct a work group of frontline staff and managers to study best practices for local government ethics programs and adjust the County’s approach to ethics, including the Code of Ethics, as needed.