Cities and counties don’t always have a lot of local resources to direct to ethics initiatives. But, they do have access to a clearinghouse of ethics-focused resources, courtesy of 15-year-old City Ethics, a non-profit organization formed to provide a centralized location for information resources for all forms of local government ethics programs, according to the organization’s website. The resources at cityethics.org, although in some instances dated, provide a useful set of tools specifically intended for local government institutions.
City Ethics grew out of discussion at the 2000 national conference of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws, another resource (see links below). Those involved recognized that many local governments needed assistance in setting up and running ethics programs.
Visitors to the City Ethics website have access to publications, a model code of ethics, a list of free and open source tools for practitioners, links to various resources, and a blog.
Here are some representative examples. From the publications tab, download, at no cost, Local Government Ethics Programs 2.0, a 1,100-page introduction and guide to establishing a comprehensive local government ethics program. Near to Ethical Advocate’s heart, this information-rich guide covers the topics of hotlines and training in some depth. The publications tab also contains a request for comment on a draft chapter of a new eBook on local government lobbying; one of a number of opportunities for registered site visitors to provide input.
From the model code tab, view and comment on the full text of the model ethics code; a printer-friendly version is also available. From the lab tools tab, browse links to training resources such as the “Government Conflicts of Interest” video, among other tools. From the resources tab go to various sub-menu tabs such as “ethics essentials,” “ethics definitions,” a list of City Ethics’ services, and more.
The City Ethics blog (essentially the homepage) provides readers with a way to follow perspectives on local government-related issues such as lobbying and lobbyists, gift policies, and conflicts of interest; critiques of specific municipality ethics programs; and occasional ethics-related book and film reviews, to name just a few topic areas.
Some of these site tabs can serve as a useful starting point for local municipalities that are either building or assessing their ethics programs.
Ethical Advocate provides comprehensive ethics and compliance solutions, including ethics and compliance training and confidential and anonymous hotlines, to many state and local government organizations. Contact us for more information.
City Ethics website, http://www.cityethics.org/
Council on Governmental Ethics Laws, http://www.cogel.org/