Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Refreshing Change: A Code of Ethics in a Presidential transition...

[Hat tip to Dr. Matt Wynia, director of the American Medical Association Institute for Ethics for bringing our attention to this one]

Any who has attended an ASBH meeting knows that one of the issues that has been hotly debated among members in the last few years is whether or not bioethicists should have a code of ethics to which they agree to adhere to retain membership -- it is just one step towards setting standards, obtaining public trust, and promoting transparency. Well, it looks like the Obama transition team beat us to punch:

"At an afternoon press briefing in the Transition Team offices for President-elect Barack Obama, transition team co-chairman John Podesta said this would be “the most open and transparent transition in history” and released a set of rules that lobbyists working on the team will be required to abide by.

The list of rules include the following: Lobbyists working with the team -- a list of whom will be released -- are prohibited from doing any lobbying during the transition; someone who becomes a lobbyist after working on the transition is prohibited from lobbying the Administration for one year on matters for which they worked; and anyone who has lobbied in the last year is prohibited from working in the policy areas for which they lobbied. Transition team members will be subject to a “gift ban,” and Podesta also indicated they would need to sign an ethics code.

"These are the strictest ethics rules ever applied," said Podesta, who served as Bill Clinton's chief of staff for the last two years of his administration. Asked why they would keep lobbyists from working on policy areas for which they're deeply knowledgeable, Podesta said: "I've heard the complaint that we're leaving all these extra people on the side, that we're leaving all the people that know everything out in the cold. So be it. That's a commitment that is one the American people expect and one the President-elect made."

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