Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


US government does plenty, but has no focus

October 2005

A new analysis of US government programmes has discovered that the Bush administration is doing more on CSR than some people think.

The investigation by the Government Accountability Office, an independent body that studies, on behalf of Congress, how the federal government spends taxpayers’ money, found that although the government has no over-arching CSR policy, it does have more than 50 federal programmes and activities to promote CSR.

The programmes are spread across 12 government agencies and include initiatives such as a Department of Commerce CSR training scheme for its commercial service officers and a requirement by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation that companies meet certain social responsibility criteria before they can use its services.

However, the GAO says many of the programmes have small budgets and few staff, and are not linked into any wider government CSR strategy.

The Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise, a US institution that studies corporate citizenship, said the results revealed the ‘disarray’ on CSR at the heart of the US administration.

‘It doesn’t surprise us that there are so many initiatives – if anything there are too many,’ said Susan Aaronson, senior fellow at the institute. ‘The programmes lack coherence, clearly articulated principles, long-term funding and concerted action. What’s missing is something to bind them together at the top level. There’s no mission statement or strategy on CSR from the US government – in contrast to, say, the government in the UK.’

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