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Reconciling Ethical Asymmetry in Agency Oversight: Striving for Eudaimonia Among Legislative Abstract Staff in West Virginia

Author: MICHAEL ROSS POTTER
Published in GVER, Vol. 7 No. 2

This paper applies the Constitutional School of American Public Administration to inform the ethical context of legislative auditing in West Virginia?s state government. In smaller state governments, bureaucrats have minimal ethical training that infrequently extends beyond understanding their formal organizational roles and preventing the appearance of corruption. This orientation towards preventing conflicts of interest and away from the constitutional role of bureaucrats leads to problems with the assertion of legislative influence. This leads to role confusion among legislative auditors as they seek to reconcile political and ethical conflicts. The orientation of legislative auditing towards program evaluation and away from ethical and narrative types of analysis can lead to a stalemate between legislative actor and audited agency. The asymmetric expectations on the part of each group (agency and auditor) in the oversight process leads to chronic ineffectiveness and stymies the pusposed fucntions of oversight within the polity. This analysis considers the public-interest conception of ethics to be the embodimnet of the eudaimonia of virtue ethics. This research should contribute to the emerging body of literature regarding the constitutional school?s applicability to all levels of government.

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