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Study: Professional and Ethics Case Studies Essay

ACS CODE OF ETHICS CASE STUDIES & RELATED CLAUSES TO THE CODE OF CONDUCT This document provides a range of case studies with references to relevant clauses of the ACS Code of Ethics. These Codes consists of a series of clauses which gradually expand on aspects of ethical behaviour relevant to professional people in the ICT industry. Clause 2. 0 describes the Code of Ethics, summarised as six values: The Primacy of the Public Interest; The Enhancement of the Quality of Life; Honesty; Competence; Professional Development; and Professionalism. Clauses 2. 1 through to 2.

7 cover the ACS Code of Conduct, which provide a series of non-exhaustive standards explaining how the Codes apply to a member’s professional work, related to each of the six Values. Case No. 1: Jean The Programmer [1] Summary of case Jean, a statistical database programmer, is trying to write a large statistical program needed by her company. Programmers in this company are encouraged to write about their work and to publish their algorithms in professional journals. After months of tedious programming, Jean has found herself stuck on several parts of the program.

Her manager, not recognising the complexity of the problem, wants the job completed within the next few days. Not knowing how to solve the problems, Jean remembers that a co-worker had given her source listings from his current work and from an early version of a commercial software package developed at another company. On studying these programs, she sees two areas of code which could be directly incorporated into her own program. She uses segments of code from both her coworker and the commercial software, but does not tell anyone or mention it in the documentation.

She completes the project and turns it in a day ahead of time. ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; f) respect the intellectual property of others; 2. 5 Competence b) not misrepresent your skills or knowledge; d) respect and protect your stakeholders’ proprietary interests; g) respect, and seek when necessary, the professional expertise of colleagues in their areas of competence.

Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 3 Case No. 2: Diane the Consultant [1] Summary of case Three years ago Diane started her own consulting business. She has been so successful that she now has several people working for her and many clients. Their consulting work included advising on how to set up corporate intranets, designing database management systems, and advising about security. Presently she is designing a database management system for the personnel office of a medium-sized company.

Diane has involved the client in the design process, informing the CEO, the director of computing, and the director of personnel about the progress of the system. It is now time to make decisions about the kind and degree of security to build into the system. Diane has described several options to the client. Because the system is going to cost more than they planned, the client has decided to opt for a less secure system. She believes the information they will be storing is extremely sensitive.

It will include performance evaluations, medical records for filing insurance claims, salaries, and so forth. With weak security, employees working on client machines may be able to figure out ways to get access to this data, not to mention the possibility of on-line access from hackers. Diane feels strongly that the system should be much more secure. She has tried to explain the risks, but the CEO, director of computing and director of personnel all agree that less security will do. What should she do?

Should she refuse to build the system as they request? ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest b) raise with stakeholders any potential conflicts between your professional activity and legal or other accepted public requirements; e) endeavour to preserve the integrity, security, continuity and utility of ICT; g) endeavour to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of the information of others. 2. 3 Quality of Life c) understand, and give due regard to, the perceptions of those affected by your work; 2.

5 Competence a) endeavour to provide products and services which match the operational and financial needs of your stakeholders; e) advise your stakeholders when you believe a proposed project, product or service is not in their best interest Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 4 Case No. 3: Max in the State Department [1] Summary of case Max works in a large state department of alcoholism and drug abuse.

The agency administers programs for individuals with alcohol and drug problems, and maintains a huge database of information on the clients who use their services. Some of the data files contain the names and current addresses of clients. Max has been asked to take a look at the track records of the treatment programs. He is to put together a report that contains the number of clients seen in each program each month for the past five years, length of each client’s treatment, number of clients who return after completion of a program, criminal histories of clients, and so on.

In order to put together this report, Max has been given access to all files in the agency’s mainframe computer. After assembling the data into a file that includes the clients’ names, he downloads it to the computer in his office. Under pressure to get the report finished by the deadline, Max decides he will have to work at home over the weekend in order to finish on time. He burns the information onto a CD and takes it home. After finishing the report he leaves the CD at home and forgets about it.

ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest d) take into consideration the fact that your profession traverses many other professions, and has implications for other social systems and organisations; g) endeavour to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of the information of others. 2. 3 Quality of Life a) recognise, in your work, the role that ICT can play to enhance the quality of life of people, particularly the disadvantaged or those with disabilities; 2.

5 Competence d) respect and protect your stakeholders’ proprietary interests; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 5 Case No. 4: [1] Summary of case A computer company is writing the first stage of a more efficient accounting system that will be used by the government. This system will save tax payers a considerable amount of money every year. A computer professional, who is asked to design the accounting system, assigns different parts of the system to her staff.

One person is responsible for developing the reports; another is responsible for the internal processing; and a third for the user interface. The manager is shown the system and agrees that it can do everything in the requirements. The system is installed, but the staff finds the interface so difficult to use that their complaints are heard by upper level management. Because of these complaints, upper-level management will not invest any more money in the development of the new accounting system and they go back to their original, more expensive system.

ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 3 Quality of Life c) understand, and give due regard to, the perceptions of those affected by your work; 2. 5 Competence a) endeavour to provide products and services which match the operational and financial needs of your stakeholders; c) make yourself aware of relevant standards and legislation, and act accordingly; f) accept responsibility for your work; g) respect, and seek when necessary, the professional expertise of colleagues in their areas of competence.

Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 6 Case No. 5: [1] Summary of case In determining requirements for an information system to be used in an employment agency, the client explains that, when displaying applicants whose qualifications appear to match those required for a particular job, the names of white applicants are to be displayed ahead of those of non-white applicants, and the names of male applicants are to be displayed ahead of those of female applicants.

ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; b) raise with stakeholders any potential conflicts between your professional activity and legal or other accepted public requirements; c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; 2.

5 Competence e) advise your stakeholders when you believe a proposed project, product or service is not in their best interest; 2. 7 Professionalism c) confront attempts to limit diversity in the workplace, and ensure that opportunities for employment, advancement, remuneration and other working conditions are based on the actual skills and performance of employees, free of stereotypes and prejudices; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 7 Case No.

6: [1] Summary of case A software development company has just produced a new software package that incorporates the new tax laws and figures taxes for both individuals and small businesses. The president of the company knows that the program has a number of bugs. He also believes the first firm to put this kind of software on the market is likely to capture the largest market share. The company widely advertises the program. When the company actually ships a CD, it includes a disclaimer of responsibility for errors resulting from the use of the program.

The company expects it will receive a number of complaints, queries, and suggestions for modification. The company plans to use these to make changes and eventually issue updated, improved, and debugged versions. The president argues that this is general industry policy and that anyone who buys version 1. 0 of a program knows this and will take proper precautions. Because of bugs, a number of users filed incorrect tax returns and were penalised by the ATO. ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2.

2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; b) raise with stakeholders any potential conflicts between your professional activity and legal or other accepted public requirements; c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; d) take into consideration the fact that your profession traverses many other professions, and has implications for other social systems and organisations; e) endeavour to preserve the integrity, security, continuity and utility of ICT; 2.

3 Quality of Life e) endeavour to preserve the integrity, security, continuity and utility of ICT; 2. 4 Honesty b) not knowingly mislead a client or potential client as to the suitability of a product or service; 2. 5 Competence f) accept responsibility for your work; 2. 7 Professionalism f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012.

Page 8 Case No. 7: [1] Summary of case A small software company is working on an integrated inventory control system for a very large national shoe manufacturer. The system will gather sales information daily from shoe stores nationwide. This information will be used by the accounting, shipping, and ordering departments to control all of the functions of this large corporation. The inventory functions are critical to the smooth operation of the system.

Jane, a quality assurance engineer with the software company, suspects that the inventory functions of the system are not sufficiently tested, although they have passed all their contracted tests. She is pressured by her employers to sign off on the software. Legally she is only required to perform those tests which have been agreed to in the original contract. However, her considerable experience in software testing has led her to be concerned over risks of the system.

Her employers say that they will go out of business if they do not deliver the software on time. Jane contends if the Inventory sub-system fails, it will significantly harm their client and its employees. If the potential failure were to threaten lives, it would be clear to Jane that she should refuse to sign off. But since the degree of threatened harm is less, Jane is faced with a difficult moral decision. ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2.

2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; 2. 5 Competence a) endeavour to provide products and services which match the operational and financial needs of your stakeholders; e) advise your stakeholders when you believe a proposed project, product or service is not in their best interest; f) accept responsibility for your work; 2.

7 Professionalism f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 9 Case No. 8: [1] Summary of case A software consultant is negotiating a contract with a local community to design their traffic control system. He recommends they select the TCS system out of several available systems on the market.

The consultant fails to mention that he is a major stockholder of the company producing TCS software. ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; 2. 4 Honesty b) not knowingly mislead a client or potential client as to the suitability of a product or service; 2. 7 Professionalism f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS;

Case No. 9: [1] Summary of case Joe is working on a project for his computer science course. The instructor has allotted a fixed amount of computer time for this project. Joe has run out of time, but has not yet finished the project. The instructor cannot be reached. Last year Joe worked as a student programmer for the campus computer centre and is quite familiar with procedures to increase time allocations to accounts. Using what he learned last year, he is able to access the master account. Then he gives himself additional time and finishes his project.

ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; 2. 5 Competence f) accept responsibility for your work; 2. 7 Professionalism f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 10 Case No.

10: [2] Summary of case Consider an HCI consultant with extensive experience in evaluating web sites and graphical user interfaces (GUI). She has just received an evaluation contract for a new accounting product made by Company A due to her prior experience with e-commerce site evaluation. The work involves assessing the training requirements and the usability of the system. During the initial configuration of her usability laboratory she becomes aware that that software she is to evaluate contains a GUI already patented by a rival Company B, which she evaluated several weeks before.

Under her contractual arrangements she is not allowed to discuss the evaluation of a product with anyone outside the contract. She therefore has an obligation to Company B not to provide information regarding their product to anyone else without their permission. She has a similar obligation to Company A. Can she continue with the evaluation? If she cannot continue with the evaluation how does she inform Company A of the patent violation? Does she have an obligation to let company B know Company A has copied their GUI?

ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; b) raise with stakeholders any potential conflicts between your professional activity and legal or other accepted public requirements; c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; f) respect the intellectual property of others; 2.

3 Quality of Life c) understand, and give due regard to, the perceptions of those affected by your work; 2. 4 Honesty b) not knowingly mislead a client or potential client as to the suitability of a product or service; 2. 5 Competence c) make yourself aware of relevant standards and legislation, and act accordingly; e) advise your stakeholders when you believe a proposed project, product or service is not in their best interest; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 11 Case No.

11: [2] Summary of case An internal usability team wanted to perform a usability test on a web site using half internal and half external participants. Would the consent form designed for external users also be used for the internals? Some members of the usability team argued that the terms of employment were sufficient to require internals participate. Others argued that the purpose of ‘consent’ was to ensure that participants understood why they had been asked, what was going to happen, what data would be collected, how it would be used and that they were free to leave any time.

Given that the company had paid for usability testing, and given that the employees had agreed to work for the company for payment, is the employee free to leave? ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; 2. 3 Quality of Life a) recognise, in your work, the role that ICT can play to enhance the quality of life of people, particularly the disadvantaged or those with disabilities; 2.

4 Honesty e) qualify professional opinions which you know are based on limited knowledge or experience; 2. 5 Competence g) respect, and seek when necessary, the professional expertise of colleagues in their areas of competence. 2. 7 Professionalism a) take a calm, objective, informed and knowledgeable stance on your professional work, complementing your enthusiasm and engagement in it; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 12 Case No.

12: [2] Summary of case You have been asked to observe how junior management use new accounting software at a leading city accounting firm. As part of informed consent, staff are informed that they will remain anonymous. As part of your observations, you notice that many of the junior management staff are making a particular data entry error when using this software. These errors are causing the accountancy firm to lose profit. Company policy dictates clearly that workers’ salaries will be docked for clear mistakes leading to loss of company profit.

Do you take the edge off the results to protect the people who helped you in the study? ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; g) endeavour to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of the information of others. 2. 3 Quality of Life c) understand, and give due regard to, the perceptions of those affected by your work; 2.

4 Honesty b) not knowingly mislead a client or potential client as to the suitability of a product or service; 2. 5 Competence a) endeavour to provide products and services which match the operational and financial needs of your stakeholders; 2. 7 Professionalism f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 13

Case No. 13: [2] Summary of case You are contracted by a Web design consultancy company to interview their staff to ascertain their current knowledge. The aim of the study is to inform the company about the type of training courses they need to implement. The aim is therefore to highlight areas of overall weakness as opposed to individual shortcomings. Despite this, the type of data you collect will be able to identify individual’s weaknesses. Informed consent clearly states that comments made to you by interviewees are to remain private.

Following the study, a senior Vice President of the company approaches you, asking you “who did well in the study? ” What do you say? ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; g) endeavour to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of the information of others. 2.

6 Professional Development b) increase your awareness of issues affecting the profession and its relationship with the public; 2. 7 Professionalism f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS; i) have pride in your profession, and protect and promote professionalism and trustworthiness in ICT. Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 14 Case No.

14: [3] Summary of case A retired nurse applied for a pension from Centrelink, and was informed that she would receive a small pension of $8 per fortnight, and a Pension Card. She then received a letter saying that her pension would not be paid because she had assets of over $18 million, and an annual income of over $770,000. It took this lady several attempts to get Centrelink to examine her case. Finally, the cause of the mistake was found to be a “human error” when the lady’s investment details were coded into the computer. When the cause of the mistake was discovered, she was informed that they “couldn’t remove it from the computer”.

Centrelink claimed that this was an “isolated incident”. However, at the same time, another man was discussing with Centrelink their claim that he had an income of $6 million, which was not the case. ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2. 2 Public Interest a) identify those potentially impacted by your work and explicitly consider their interests; d) take into consideration the fact that your profession traverses many other professions, and has implications for other social systems and organisations; 2.

3 Quality of Life c) understand, and give due regard to, the perceptions of those affected by your work; d) attempt to increase the feelings of personal satisfaction, competence, and control of those affected by your work. 2. 4 Honesty b) not knowingly mislead a client or potential client as to the suitability of a product or service; 2. 5 Competence a) endeavour to provide products and services which match the operational and financial needs of your stakeholders; 2.

7 Professionalism g) endeavour to extend public knowledge and understanding of ICT; i) have pride in your profession, and protect and promote professionalism and trustworthiness in ICT. Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 15 Case No. 15: [4] Summary of case The initial estimate, in late 1999, for the re-vamp of the web site of the Dept. of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA), was $600,000. The final price was over $4 million.

The department provided a number of excuses/reasons for the excessive costs, including “over-ambitious expectations”; “a relatively immature understanding of the new content management technologies’; changes in the scope of the project; no allowance made for support of existing web site during the project; and no allowance for the tendering process. A spokesman stated that the department did not have “adequate development skills at the outset of the process…” ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2.

2 Public Interest e) endeavour to preserve the integrity, security, continuity and utility of ICT; 2. 4 Honesty b) not knowingly mislead a client or potential client as to the suitability of a product or service; c) distinguish between your professional and personal opinions and advice; d) give realistic estimates for projects under your control; e) qualify professional opinions which you know are based on limited knowledge or experience; 2.

5 Competence a) endeavour to provide products and services which match the operational and financial needs of your stakeholders; b) not misrepresent your skills or knowledge; f) accept responsibility for your work; g) respect, and seek when necessary, the professional expertise of colleagues in their areas of competence. 2.

6 Professional Development a) continue to upgrade your knowledge and skills; b) increase your awareness of issues affecting the profession and its relationship with the public; c) encourage your colleagues, staff and students to continue their own professional development; d) support education, training and professional development in ICT that reflects the diverse needs of individual professionals and their various career paths. 2.

7 Professionalism f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS; i) have pride in your profession, and protect and promote professionalism and trustworthiness in ICT. Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 16 Case No. 16: [5] Summary of case In December 1999, IBM-GSA was one of three tenderers for the IT outsourcing contract for the Departments of Health, Aged Care and the Health Insurance Commission (the Health Group), along with CSC and EDS.

During the tender process, IBM-GSA was supplied with computer disks containing critical information relating to final pricing of their rival tenderers. IBM-GSA subsequently revised its tender after the due deadline and the minister announced they were the successful bidder. At the time, the Office of Asset Sales and Information Technology Outsourcing (OASITO) described giving IBM-GSA details of their rival’s bids as an ‘inadvertent error’. The minister dismissed the Opposition’s call for an immediate halt to the tender process.

Three years later, the minister, now retired, admitted that the $350 million tender should have been cancelled. He told the Audit Office in September 2002: “When the disc containing all three bids was delivered to IBM GSA in error my reaction on being informed directly by OASITO was to cancel the tender. I could not see that a tender process with integrity could continue. At the conclusion of the tender I was both disappointed and annoyed at the limited role of the Probity Auditor and the absence of a separate report on the issue.

” Not only did the tender continue, with IBM-GSA being awarded the contract, but the minister’s claim that the Probity Auditor’s role was limited was contradicted by evidence provided by OASITO to a Senate Estimates hearing on 8 February 2000. OASITO representatives told Senate Estimates that the management of the tender: “…was conducted in accordance with the advice from both the probity auditor and our legal advisers engaged for the initiative.

All parties concurred at the time that the process could continue unchanged [OASITO] briefed the probity auditor in person [who] immediately came back to us with a proposed course of action…We engaged the probity auditor to participate in all of our discussions to make sure that he fully witnessed the nature of the discussions…and he was happy that we had delivered the messages in accordance with his proposed course of action. ” ACS Code of Ethics values and relevant clauses to the Code of Conduct 2.

2 Public Interest b) raise with stakeholders any potential conflicts between your professional activity and legal or other accepted public requirements; c) advise your stakeholders as soon as possible of any conflicts of interest or conscientious objections that you have; e) endeavour to preserve the integrity, security, continuity and utility of ICT; f) respect the intellectual property of others; g) endeavour to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of the information of others.

2. 3 Quality of Life b) protect and promote the health and safety of those affected by your work; 2. 4 Honesty a) reject, and will not make, any offer of bribery or inducement; Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 17 2. 5 Competence c) make yourself aware of relevant standards and legislation, and act accordingly; d) respect and protect your stakeholders’ proprietary interests; 2.

7 Professionalism b) take appropriate action against members who engage in behaviour contrary to the Code of Ethics; e) neither require, nor attempt to influence, any person to take any action which would involve a breach of the Code of Ethics; f) refrain from any conduct or action in your professional role which may tarnish the image of the profession or detract from the good name of the ACS; i) have pride in your profession, and protect and promote professionalism and trustworthiness in ICT.

Australian Computer Society | ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct | July 2012 Page 18 Case No. 17: [6] Summary of case A consultant was engaged by a large private sector company to help run a tender process for some new software. The process was that tenderers would be short-listed on functional requirements, there would be a detailed evaluation of the short-listed tenders, and then the evaluation panel would look at the prices tendered.

While preparing the documents for the panel the consultant was required to remove the pricing information from the body of some of the documents. As a result he became aware that several of the vendors’ prices were well above the budget set by the client. At the end of short-listing the consultant thought his manager should know about this problem so that he could deal with it early, and not waste a lot of time evaluating unaffordable tenders.

He decided to make sure he was right by checking the prices of all of the tenders. He then told his manager that he had looked at the prices and the business could not afford any of the short-listed proposals. The consultant did not tell his manager or anyone else what the prices were. His manager was very angry that he had disobeyed orders and looked at the prices before the time agreed, and he terminated the consultant’s contract without notice.


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