I spent the last two days at a mandatory orientation to the public service. The bits about the structure of government (role of the PCO and Treasury Board, for instance) were quite useful. The bits of values and ethics much less so, largely because of how artificially precise they try to make it. For instance, they define four ‘families’ of personal values. These map one-to-one to four ‘public service’ values. It is not clear that the four sets are well defined, nor that the mapping is as clear or automatic as is posited.
The fourth ‘family’ is especially odd. It basically centres around the rejection of the phrase ‘the end justifies the means.’ What they mean by this, essentially, is not to circumvent procedures that exist for good reasons to achieve some narrow objective. What seems foolish about it is the fact that the ethical yardstick remains the ends. It is inappropriate to fast-track an excellent seeming job candidate past normal checks because of the risk that your intuition is wrong, and the possibility doing so will undermine the system. Both objections are ultimately based on a comparison between two sets of means (sloppy and rigorous) and two sets of outcomes. It is also quite plausible that situations exist where rejecting the normal procedure is the best ethical option: if you have a frigate with broken engines being fired upon, it makes sense to be more slipshod than usual in the quality of your repairs.Of course, there are also lots of situations where following protocol rigidly even when under fire (literally or metaphorically) produces your best chances of success.
As such, it as fairer to say that ‘the set of all ends justifies the means.’ There are lots of good arguments for rules (they are efficient, clear, and transparent) but the reason these properties are desirable is because of the ends they eventually produce.