Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio: Gov’t workers gone wild

Stephen Dubner Jul 17, 2013
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Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio: Gov’t workers gone wild

Stephen Dubner Jul 17, 2013
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Need a juicy summer beach read? Well, have we got a page turner for you.

It’s got drug dealers and prostitutes, crooked scientists and Russian brides, even rogue real estate agents. The best part — every word is true. And: it’s free! (Never mind those tax dollars you’ve already poured into it.)

It’s called the “Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure,” and it’s published by the United States Department of Defense. 

Every year or so, the Pentagon updates and releases a new version of the “Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure,” a book packed full of true tales of employee’s ethical violations. It’s meant to be an entertaining and memorable read because it is used as a tool to train other government workers about what’s OK — and totally not OK — to do on the job.

“There are so many favorites, it’s like going to an ice cream shop and picking your favorite flavor,” says Steve Epstein, the founding editor of the report who now works as a lawyer for Boeing. “There’s really no such thing.”

Many of the ethical violations are pretty stunning, says Jeff Green, the current editor of the publication and a lawyer at the Department of Defense.

He says if he had to pick just one memorable tale, it would probably be the Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was supposed to be protecting a confidential informant. The informant happened to be the wife of a drug trafficker.

“He was taking her to cafes. He was taking her to the airport. And then it got to the point where he was taking her to the hotel to go to bed with her,” Green explains. “And he even was kind enough to give her some of his ammunition for her gun.”

The new edition of the “Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure” will be released this summer. Last year’s version is posted online.

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