Financial Foundations Framework, Leadership, Ethics, and Trust

What's Fair? Exploring the Behavioral Science of Justice and Fairness

What's Fair

Issues of fairness and justice are central to the work of all government officials, given their roles and power are granted by the will of their constituents and their work can empower and limit the livelihood of those same people. In this series of reports, we will focus on the role of the finance officer, though many of the concepts apply to all public officials. Finance officers are placed in a critical role for these concerns because their work helps decide where the money goes. GFOA’s Code of Ethics identifies fairness as one of five core values of the code. Treating people fairly is one of the “Five Pillars” of GFOA’s Financial Foundations for Thriving Communities framework. However, concerns about fairness are multifaceted and complex as well as social and political. The goal of this series is to define what fairness is and how to work toward achieving it. In this paper, Part 1, we will investigate three primary forms that fairness can take. Parts 2 and 3 of this series will dig deeper into how to navigate political differences between people.