Ethical Scenario - Contradicting your Chain of Command

The Maple Leaf
September 2016

A major Canadian news media outlet has just published a leaked DND draft policy proposal (including several supporting documents as annexes) regarding strategic human resources planning.

The proposal has been leaked by its author, “Albert”, a DND subject matter expert in the field. None of the documents have a security designation.

Albert’s motive is that he believes management has been persistently ignoring his advice on how to handle this issue, essentially following the opposite course of action from the one he has been recommending and arguing for. Although Albert knows he may get in trouble for releasing these documents to the press, he puts them in a plain brown envelope that he physically drops off at the media outlet. He is also aware he will be the prime suspect once DND finds out the precise contents of the package.

As a result, a number of DND offices are required to work swiftly on preparing media lines to deal with imminent questions about why the current DND approach to the issue does not follow the recommended expert advice.

Albert honestly believes this was the right thing to do. He is convinced that his assessment of the problem is accurate and that the present head-in-the-sand approach the institution is taking simply does not work. He is tired of not being heard and hopes this “sunlight” method will provide DND with the public pressure it needs to do the right thing. Therefore, from Albert’s perspective, the personal risk is worth it. 

Was Albert right in leaking the policy proposal? Why or why not?

Reader feedback is welcome.

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