Casper Star Tribune article “Study ranks Wyoming's corruption risk as high”, printed March 21, 2012, lists Wyoming third in the nation for being at risk for corruption. Looking at the criteria and data collected (via http://www.stateintegrity.org/wyoming) in determining the State’s failing grade, it becomes apparent the State lacks an effective code of ethics system of enforcement. This is not say the State of Wyoming does not have a Code of Ethics. The State of Wyoming does have a written Code of Ethics, however, they do not have a formal office, agency or means to enforce these codes or tend to complaints, investigate or punish violations of these codes. This is troubling as corruption can take be considered any one of the following: unethical, but legal; illegal, but ethical; and illegal and unethical. It is the job of an ethics officer and ethics agency, with the power and authority to investigate, make unbiased determinations of the nature of the allegations and to refer the violations for appropriate enforcement (legal, administrative, etc).
The State of Wyoming Code of Ethics I am personally aware of is a version of STATE OF WYOMING EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT INTERIM EXECUTIVE ORDER 1997-4. This written Code of Ethics is, in my opinion, ambiguous “If the allegation is true, the agency head shall take appropriate action. For permanent employees, such actions shall be in accordance with the State of Wyoming Personnel Rules”. What appropriate action? Which Personnel Rules apply, for what violation(s)?
The lack of an official ethics enforcement officer(s), and agency to handle such complaints, allegations, investigations and to keep informed, train, and enforce the federal and state laws, rules and regulations governing ethics, is of critical concern. Ethics enforcement officials and agencies are the watchdogs of any organization. Richard Breedan, Former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission outlines the importance of having Ethics Officers (EO). "EO does the preventive maintenance and constant improvement and monitoring of the system…The increasingly difficult legal environment places companies in a situation fraught with the risk of bad publicity, heavy fines, and maybe even criminal sanctions…Plus, the studies indicate that going beyond a penalty atmosphere to a social culture of wanting to comply is what drives successful legal compliance". http://www.corporate-ethics.us/why-ethics-officer.htm
Furthermore, the United States Sentencing Commission lists seven Guidelines for Organizations for “Effective Compliance Oversight”: Oversight by high-level personnel; Due Care in delegating substantial discretionary authority; Effective Communication to all levels ofEmployees; Reasonable steps to achieve compliance, which include systems for monitoring, auditing, and reporting suspected wrongdoing without fear of reprisal; Consistent enforcement of compliance standards including disciplinary mechanisms; Reasonable steps to respond to and prevent further similar offenses upon detection of a violation http://www.ussc.gov/Guidelines/Organizational_Guidelines/ORGOVERVIEW.pdf. As aforementioned, STATE OF WYOMING EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT INTERIM EXECUTIVE ORDER 1997-4. Code of Ethics does not clearly apply any of these guidelines.