Is it ethical for an employer to encourage managers to sign off on certifications or forms without information to verify the form’s accuracy? It seems like a question with a clear answer. Unfortunately, like most matters involving federal employment, the answer is anything but simple.
When it comes to government work, such pressure is not uncommon. A recent example involves a government requirement for military commanders to sign off on their troops completion of 297 days of training exercises. The problem? Only 256 days of training were available. A broader example involves those in managerial positions. It is not uncommon for the government to require managers to sign off on paperwork when the manager does not have the ability to verify the paperwork’s accuracy.
Employees in this dilemma have options. They can simply conform with the status quo or they can push back and encourage elimination of the requirement or improved methods to help better ensure verification of the information within the forms. Those who choose to go along with the status quo will create a paper trial that could be used against them in the event of a dispute. A third option involves including an attachment explaining the areas that were not verifiable or adjusting the form by crossing out sections.
In the event you do find yourself taking the blame for these forms it is wise to act to protect your interests. Workers who face disciplinary action or termination should seek legal counsel. It is wise to hire an attorney experienced within this area of law, as the questions that arise in federal government often pose unique legal issues.