What’s worse there, the sex or the pretending to be dead?
July 18, 2013 8:22 AM   Subscribe

The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure [PDF, there is a Word file direct from the DoD] is 167 pages of stories of elaborate frauds, scams, and abuses of power in the US government. Interestingly, the sarcasm-filled document is also published by the US government, to help illustrate how government workers get in trouble. Freakonomics radio has a amusing and interesting discussion with the Encyclopedia's editor and founding editor [link goes to transcript].

Some samples:

An offshore safety inspector found much of the Government’s equipment to be in need of repairs to meet safety standards. He then referred the business to his brother-in-law’s repair shop. The rig operators smelled a rat and called the F.B.I. They discovered that, in return for each referral, the brother-in-law was treating the inspector to an evening with a lady of dubious morals. The case was brought to trial. In his defense, the inspector claimed that he had not received a “thing of value” in return for the referral. The judge didn’t buy it – and neither did his wife.


For a period of several years, two top executives at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center had an astonishing work record—they took nearly no vacation time at all. The reason, investigators soon discovered, was that the executives had been taking “religious compensatory time” instead. Curiously, the executives’ absences seldom fell on any traditionally observed religious holidays. Instead, investigators found that the pair’s so-called religious observances took place on days when they had medical appointments, sightseeing trips, and golf tournaments. Asked whether golf tournaments could be considered religious observances, one executive replied, “They could be for some people.”
posted by blahblahblah (12 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
One of my coworkers just asked me to find this. There's a newer (july 2013) version here: http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/defense_ethics/resource_library/guidance.htm
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:39 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

They discovered that, in return for each referral, the brother-in-law was treating the inspector to an evening with a lady of dubious morals.

I hope this was his sister's husband and not his wife's brother. That would make for some awkward Christmas dinners.
posted by atrazine at 9:12 AM on July 18, 2013

Reading through these reminds me a bit of the police blotter section of my old university newspaper, although, instead of tightly-written laconic narratives hilarious for what went unwritten, these a breathless and delighted accounts always searching for a pun. A+++, would read again!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2013

So incredibly delicious. I love to discover that the Federal Government has a sense of humor about these things.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:35 AM on July 18, 2013

We should invest even more money and power in them; they've definitely earned MY trust.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:36 AM on July 18, 2013

...of the people, by the people, for the people.
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 9:37 AM on July 18, 2013

Carl Truscott's Nephew is my new band name
posted by fallingbadgers at 9:42 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Notwithstanding larger structural corruption issues, at least you can find this mid-level stuff out from the Govt......
posted by lalochezia at 10:08 AM on July 18, 2013

Please pardon my emphasis, but

posted by JHarris at 10:39 AM on July 18, 2013 [16 favorites]

The headlines are gold.
  • Fraud, Conspiracy, and Bribery … Oh My!
  • Not a Liar, But the Army Still Can’t Train Your Fiancée’s Son to Fight Fire
  • A Swing and a Miss for Senior Officers Using Government Funds on Golf Outing
  • One Happy Family Spends Time Together in Jail
I'm with Genji: how wonderful that someone put in the work to make these so readable!
posted by daveliepmann at 11:00 AM on July 18, 2013

And imagine, all of these problems can be immediately fixed by deregulation, privatization, and the purity of the free market!
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I kind of wish Paradox Press were still around doing their Big Book of.... series for this.
posted by kewb at 2:28 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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