Should former government employees be allowed to work for companies they used to regulate?
There are no laws, rules and regulations that govern dealings with federal, state and local governments, prohibit their former employees to work for companies they regulated. The Code of Conducts for government employees is also silent on the same issue. However, there has been wide practice of such in all the countries I know of. Is this appropriate and should it be allowed to continue?
I think we can all appreciate the high integrity of our civil servants that they will all behave professionally should they have to work for the company they once regulated. Why would Singapore Prime-Minister with an annual salary of US$ 2,500,000 do anything inappropriate should he decide to work for an international conglomerate giant he once governed one day?
The issue revolves around one important matter of conflict of interest which raises further three more critical concerns. It is indisputable that the relations between the two parties are not at all in unison. The role of the public servants is of a regulator, controller with given authority to get the task done. Business is entities that prefer to work in a freer environment without so many agencies keeping an eye on.
Conflict of interest
In many countries, a business enterprise may be under the supervision of numerous government departments. A seafood packer in Thailand, take for example, is regulated by at least 10 Ministries and a dozen more of their sub departments not to mention another dozen or so local administration. There are constant needs to work with the Ministries of Industrial, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Health, Labor, Science, Social affair, to name just a few.
The relationship creates a situation of conflicting interest. Would not we feel dubious when a former government employee leave or retire to work for the company he used to regulate? Do not we suspect there may be a hanky panky, wheeling dealing under hand activity going beneath the surface?
There was once a high rank Food and Drug agent who controlled a group of seafood packers and was being suspicious for years she would retire to work for the group’s association. She eventually did. What about the few years of speculation while she was still overseeing those companies? Was there any interest involved? There was another high rank live stock government employee who was suspected of having an unusual relation with a chicken feed, farm, processor, and exporter he once regulated. He left his post swiftly only to turn up to work for the said company he closely regulated.
We are not interested if there is any wrong doing in the cases. My point is the situation creates an unacceptable suspicious atmosphere. It falls in the category of Ethical issue. Ethics deals with what is morally right and wrong. And morally right is determined by group to which one belongs. We want to hear your voice in regarding the ethical standard of this conduct.
The next issue created by the conflict of interest is we have a situation here where we allow two parties to flirt with each other. One is hoping that the other will give favors now while the other is hoping that the favors will be reciprocated nicely someday. We have a very tempting and enticing environment here. We have so many rules and guidelines dealing with proper behavior between government employee and their business counter part in accepting gifts, paying traveling expenses, buying meals, and so on. Why not we draw up a line and put a brake to the practice here? Have not we heard of “Prevention is better than cure”?
The neglect to restrain the practice concerns with productivities and performances too. Private sectors tend to lapse in keeping up with requirements. This will result in slipping and falling gradually to meet standards. Public sectors will harness less in innovative rules and laws to the good of business. Their attitude is more of a protective nature to the industries than guiding and up-keeping. We witness this phenomenon in the uproar of Chinese Products we read recently from the media.
Should we think twice in the subject of “Should former government employees be allowed to work for companies they used to regulate”?