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Duties & Responsibilities of Government Employees

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Government employees are regularly trained in their duties and responsibilities. While the approach may vary by agency or government level, general requirements tend to be common among all departments regardless program mission. These duties and responsibilities are critical elements of organization consistency expected from every employee.

General Duties and Requirements: Personal Responsibilities

Every government employee is expected to maintain the honesty, integrity and impartiality of programs. The last element in particular may be a harder challenge at the higher levels due to the influence of politics. However, all government employees are still required to maintain a truthful operation in their particular function.

Compliance with all agency-related laws and rules is also expected. Employees are not expected to perform acts that are illegal under federal or state law, but they are hired to perform legal functions as directed.

Every employee is personally responsible to report suspicious actions or behavior that could or does violate a law or regulation. Various federal and state laws also require employees to make such reports available to oversight agencies such as inspector general offices.

General Duties and Requirements: Broad Restrictions

Unless otherwise authorized, government employees are generally not allowed to carry weapons into government offices, particularly firearms.

There is also a common ethics expectation that employees avoid and do not involve themselves in fraud or abuse of government programs, criminal activity, or felony activity in their personal life. If discovered, many policies authorize employee demotion or termination from the organization.

Employees are expected to work cohesively with one another. Numerous policies at all agency levels prohibit harassment, sexual harassment, corruption, and violations of common personnel policies.

Specific Function Duties and Responsibilities: Fiscal

Some government functions have a higher threshold of duty due to the importance placed on the activity. For instance, the fiduciary duty of fiscal officers creates a higher level of responsibility to protect funds and assets of a government department from unnecessary loss and to make sure assets are used for the right purpose. This role includes oversight and reporting problems found with budgeting, accounting, procurement and contracting.

Managers also carry more responsibility with the duty to manage their staff and be responsible for their actions and output. And they are expected to be the daily control points for leadership, implementing broad policy on a regular basis.

Specific Function Duties and Responsibilities: Investigations

Responding to audits or investigation places a temporary duty on employees to respond to the investigator truthfully. Frequently this duty may require a government employee to respond to a separate oversight agency outside the immediate employer. Various rules require employees not to resist such investigations and instead to help investigators find the materials they are looking for. There are legal protections for employees regarding self-incrimination, but exercising these protections can sometimes expose the noncooperative employee to administrative discipline or termination for being insubordinate under direction.

Goverment Employee Duties to Protect the System

Government employees are held to specified standards that are common in all government agencies, regardless of government level. This expectation for good behavior and cooperation is critical to protect the agency and the government taxpayer funds used for operations. Failure to follow such duties and responsibilities interferes with the organization function of agencies and, when discovered, the employee involved is corrected or removed. All employees, whether management or staff, are expected to adhere to these rules.


Since 2009 Tom Lutzenberger has written for various websites, covering topics ranging from finance to automotive history. Lutzenberger works in public finance and policy and consults on a variety of analytical services. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Saint Mary's College and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from California State University, Sacramento.

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