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NYS Comptroller


The Academy for New York State's Local Officials

Protecting the Public’s Interest: A Tutorial on Local Government Ethics and Transparency in New York State

Module 2 - Codes of Ethics and Other Local Actions

What Issues Must be Addressed in a Code of Ethics?

To assist municipalities in adopting or amending their codes of ethics, OSC has developed two model codes of ethics – one for fire districts and the second for local governments other than fire districts. Both of these model codes are posted on OSC’s website. Local officials can also contact our office to request that a Microsoft Word version of either of the model codes be sent to them electronically.

The OSC model codes of ethics are intended to be used as a starting point by any municipality that intends to adopt or amend a code of ethics. The OSC model code of ethics for local governments addresses the issues required by Article 18.

No municipality is required to adopt or even use an OSC model code of ethics. A municipality that chooses to utilize one of the OSC model codes may delete or alter the provisions in the model or add additional provisions in response to local needs and circumstances, subject to the requirements and limitations set forth in Article 18 (discussed in the preceding section).

While not all local governments will adopt every provision recommended in the model codes of ethics, the models our office provides include the following sections:

  • Purpose of the Code of Ethics
  • Definitions
  • Applicability
  • Acting in the Public Interest and Avoiding the Appearance of Impropriety
  • Use of the Position for Personal or Private Gain
  • Disclosure*
  • Recusal and Abstention
  • Investments*
  • Private Employment*
  • Future Employment*
  • Interest in Contracts (except Fire Districts)
  • Nepotism (except Fire Districts)
  • Political Solicitations
  • Confidential Information
  • Gifts
  • Establishing a Board of Ethics
  • Posting and Distributing the Code of Ethics
  • Enforcement
  • Effective Date

* These are required by statute and must be included in the local government’s code of ethics.

Next, we will briefly highlight points that the municipal officials may want to consider for the code of ethics they adopt.

  Next: Codes of Ethics: Establishing the Foundation