Ethics and accountability have become important themes for modern government, as in most of the countries there is a severe crisis of legitimacy. Increasingly there is a feeling that performance management alone will not solve this crisis. Citizens also expect from politicians and public servants ethical responsible conduct. As to the ethics, however, there is a problem. Governance and new public management have raised new problems which cannot be solved by referring to the traditional bureaucratic ethics. Devolution and decentralisation processes have enhanced the responsibility of public servants. The increase of transparency and openness and the service orientation of public organisations have challenged the traditional values of discretion and equality before the rule. The growing interaction between the public and the private sector have raised the question of integrity. In light of these developments, it is important to update the ethical system, or reversibly, the traditional values of the public service can question some actual evolutions in government.