ICBioethics Blog 

The Authority and Influence of the Ethics Investigator

Written by: Ryan Pferdehirt

Michael Garcia must have been heard – finally . . . .

Per the BBC, FIFA now plans to release a “legally appropriate version” of Garcia’s report and investigate the behavior of several key individuals.

Garcia’s recent resignation as the independent ethics investigator of FIFA has sparked discussions regarding the role and authority of ethics investigators. Mr. Garcia had been inquiring into allegations of corruption in the decision to have Russia and Qatar host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. According to Garcia, FIFA chose to edit his report and publish an “erroneous” version of his investigation that seemingly cleared Qatar and Russia.

This begs question after question:

Why conduct ethics investigations if findings/recommendations can simply be overruled?

Are there ethics investigators who merely “rubber stamp” pre-determined results?

Just how much authority should the ethicist have within an organization?

Garcia’s role was to identify and report ethical misconduct. The decision to change his report to hide wrongdoing negated his findings, his credibility, and his role.

His resignation statement cited FIFA’s “lack of leadership” at the top. An organization’s ethical culture depends upon leaders who model and cultivate ethical behavior adhering to established standards. That includes taking independent reviews seriously and attempting to resolve violations, not ignore or justify them. FIFA’s actions made them doubly culpable . . . as scientist O.A. Battista said, “An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”

Fortunately, they begin see the need for more transparency . . . .

Consider your organization: is the ethical climate more like or unlike that of FIFA?

Mitch GennusoComment