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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

Ethics Training: Awareness and Reinforcement

Municipal officers and employees should be made aware of the importance of acting ethically. In order for a municipality’s ethics initiatives to work, its officers and employees must be cognizant of ethical issues and standards, and the message must be periodically reinforced. This is where ethics training comes in.

Ethics training can accomplish the following:

  • Reduce the instances of unethical behavior
  • Increase familiarity with laws, codes of ethics, and other requirements dealing with ethical behavior
  • Communicate the organization’s expectations in regard to ethical conduct
  • Explain the consequences of ethics violations
  • Help to avoid litigation
  • Encourage critical thinking about ethics issues
  • Familiarize municipal officers and employees with available resources on ethics, including where to go for assistance or with questions.

The tone at the top is especially important for ethics initiatives to work – a statement from the head of the local government or school district explaining the importance of ethical behavior is recommended.

  Next: Ethics Training: Implementation