Becoming a City of Ethics

January 30, 2009

To earn a "Certified City of Ethics" designation, a city must take two actions.

Adopt a resolution establishing the five ethics principles for the conduct of your city's officials.

These principles are designed to guide the elected officials as individuals and as a governing body. These principles are:
  • Serve others, not ourselves
  • Use resources with efficiency and economy 
  • Treat all people fairly 
  • Use the power of our position for the well being of our constituents 
  • Create an environment of honesty, openness and integrity
The adopted resolution must include or at least reference the definitions of these principles. A sample resolution is available from GMA. A majority of the city’s elected governing body must sign the resolution.
Adopt an ethics ordinance that meets minimum standards approved by the GMA Board.
The ordinance must contain definitions, an enumeration of permissible and impermissible activities by elected officials, due process procedures for elected officials charged with a violation of the ordinance and punishment provisions for those elected officials found in violation of the ordinance.

City officials should consult GMA's Sample Ethics Ordinance (see link at right) when considering provisions to include in a comprehensive codes of ethics. This document is the most recent and most accurately reflects the types of provisions essential to a local ethics ordinance. For general guidance in facing ethical dilemmas on a day-to-day basis and on state ethics laws, see GMA's publication "Ethics in Government: Charting the Right Course."

Following their adoption, the resolution and ordinance should be mailed to:
Georgia Municipal Association
Attention: Legal Department
201 Pryor Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
The resolution and ordinance will be forwarded to the GMA Ethics Certification Committee, which is comprised of the Executive Committee of the GMA City Attorneys Section, for their review. If this panel of attorneys determines that both items meet the established requirements, the city will be designated as a "Certified City of Ethics."