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National Park Service Director Jarvis Reminds Employees To Be Ethical in All They Do


In a reminder that they are public servants given a broad responsibility to manage national parks in the public's best interests, National Park Service Director John Jarvis has reminded his far-flung staff to adhere to high ethical standards. In a system-wide memo sent out October 28, the director both endorsed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's recent order pertaining to "ethical culture" and let it be know he would hold his managers and employees accountable for lapses.

As I begin my role as Director and Ethics Counselor for the National Park Service, I am taking this opportunity to clearly state my expectations and my support for Secretary Salazar’s recent Secretarial Order on “Enhancing and Promoting an Ethical Culture within the Department of the Interior.” This order outlines the Secretary’s expectations for ethical behavior by Department of the Interior employees. I will hold management officials and employees of the Service accountable to ensure the Secretary’s expectations are fulfilled. If you have not yet reviewed the order, a copy can be found at

The public has placed its trust in us to carry out the mission of the Service in preserving the natural and cultural resources of the national park system and in all of our external programs and partner activities (local, State, National and international). It is important that we take this responsibility seriously and perform our duties in a way that fosters high ethical standards. An important component of an ethical culture is adherence to all standards of conduct that define acceptable behavior and conduct of Federal employees, including such areas as use of public office; use of government property, time, information; prohibited activities including prohibited personnel practices; adherence to merit principles in employment; and a variety of ethics prohibitions unique to DOI employees. More information on these may be found in the DOI Ethics Guide for Employees available at the Department’s Ethics Office website (

I expect management officials to work closely with their ethics officials to ensure that the appropriate ethics authorities and rules are followed when carrying out their day to day activities for the Service. These rules are complex, and they can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the situation. Only authorized ethics officials may interpret ethics rules and statutes and provide reliable and protective advice.

The Service has designated ethics officials who are available to assist and provide you with ethics guidance and advice. A list of these officials can be found on InsideNPS at

Public service is a public trust. By working together, each of us can help ensure the integrity of the Service and fulfill the highest expectations of the American people for the ethical conduct of public servants who serve our nation.


Why do I find this more creepy than comforting?

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men


You have to state your expectations. It is why there are codes of conduct, oaths, expressed standards. It may sound hokey, but affirming the standards is what leadership does. The other side of it is for leadership to lead - to visibly live to those high standards.

tahoma you, and T.S. Eliot, nailed it!

Ethics and Openness

In Jon Jarvis’s recent memorandum to all National Park Service employees, he writes that the rules for ethical behavior as a government employee can be complex. They are; and they can be complex, confusing, and convoluted.

Perhaps our lives would be easier if we read the rules, and then followed these three basic suggestions:

1-Practice the “Golden Rule” ----Treat others like you would like to be treated.

2-Never forget ...that what we say and what we do matters---it’s important, it makes a difference, and it affects people. What we say and what we do help define who we are, and it affects those who hear us and those who see what we are doing, and it makes a difference in how we experience life and in how others experience life. And what we say and what we do cannot be taken back; there are no “do-overs.” What we say and what we leave impressions on people, create memories, affect attitudes and influence behavior.

3-Good ethics often can be summarized by a simple rule-of-thumb: don’t do anything, or say anything, or make a decision that would embarrass you if it was printed and publicized on the front page of the New York Times. This is especially important when acting on behalf of, or speaking to, or making decisions for groups or on behalf of groups, or when employed in a position of public trust. It’s especially important for people who have fiduciary responsibilities like officers and managers of pubic companies, government agencies and bureaucracies, and charitable eleemosynary organizations in which others have invested their hopes and dreams. And it means that when we make decisions which affect other people and organizational operations, when we spend time and money which isn’t ours, and when we work for public companies and governmental agencies, we should be willing to have our budgets, our decision, and our activities be open and transparent to public scrutiny and oversight.

Simply stated, basic ethical behavior doesn’t have to be complicated. The Department of the Interior has given us some additional basic rules and regulations to read and follow, and we’ve been offered the help of some authorized ethics officers. But basic ethics haven’t changed: be fair in how you treat people, be deliberate in what you say and do, and don’t do anything or make decisions which would embarrass you if it was made public.

The National Park Service is special; it’s not just any government agency or bureaucracy; it’s loved because it’s “America’s Best Idea.” And people don’t just visit parks; they have special experiences in them, they have “the best days of their lives” in them, they go to them for very special occasions like honeymoons, anniversaries, family reunions, and “once-in-a-lifetime” family vacations. In short, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the dreams, the memories, and the impressions of millions of people every year. And the people who work for it, work for it not because it’s just another safe, virtually tenured government job, but because it’s the National Park, it’s a place where hopes and dreams are being lived and fulfilled, and it’s a place where people can be proud of being part of “America’s Best Idea.”

Consequently, everyone working for the National Park Service has a greater responsibility to be fair, to be ethical, and to be careful in everything we do. And everyone has to be willing to be accountable, and as President Obama has written, “accountability requires transparency.”

Who is Jarvis kidding???  He was at the helm of the Pt Reyes Seashore that spend over two million dollars of the public's money  to prepare an EIS for getting rid of an 80 year old oyster operation that grew over 40% of Califoania's oyster. Unfortuanately they were so eager to show harm to the oyster company they lied about the damage to harbor seals,  hid two years of secretely taken photos to show damage by oyster boat usage that didn't occur, and then used noise levels taken from jet skiis in New Jersey as the noise levels of the oyster boats in CA. The NPS dcoument is thus hardly in the catergory of ethical work and was so bad it could never be completed.  It wasted 2 million dollars, damaged the reputations of the Park's  young scientists, and couldn't even be completed it was so full of errors. In spite of it's not being completed,  the Park destroyed the lives and earnings of a 5th generation Seashore family and quickly wiped out the oyster farm and it's assets. This has been a vengeful act on the part of Jarvis, unethical and damaging to the community and to California's largest and longterm oyster farm.  Does anyone if this community feel any respect or regard for Jon Jarvis??  Not on your life.

BESCHUNDLER -- That was great!  Thank you.  We need to forward to Congress and to our presidential candidates, too.  You can take out the words "Park Service" and substitute virtually anything else in there and it will still be true.  Trouble is that there are far too many among us who simply believe that their status or rank or self-proclaimed importance means it doesn't apply to them.

Gee, and I thought the science of Oysters actually cleaning up the environment would be enough to stop the crusade against the Oyster farm and the very real life those farmers had.  All the cityfied environmental lingo is just so much PC BS when it comes down to it.  Transparency is something bigger than many agencies and their policies can handle.

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