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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: Implementation

When setting up an ethics training program, the most effective structure is to hold an initial introductory session with periodic refreshers at a later date.

It is recommended that all employees be required to attend an introductory ethics training session and that employees hired after training has been instituted take the class as soon as practical. This initial training should focus on why ethics is important and include a statement or introduction by the municipality’s leader in order to demonstrate its importance. In addition to discussing the various components of local government ethics, case studies or practice exercises should be incorporated into the training. It is also recommended that each person sign a statement that they are aware of the municipality’s expectations and agree to abide by them.

It is recommended that follow-up training sessions should be held one to three years after the initial session. This training should present an overview of the basics discussed in the earlier session, cover any new or changed information, provide additional practice scenarios, and remind officers and employees of the resources available on the topic.

Although using a professional trainer would be beneficial, resource limitations may prohibit a municipality from using one. For municipalities conducting their own training, the following approaches have proved successful:

  • Live instruction
  • A powerful message from upper management
  • Small class size (under 30 individuals is recommended)
  • A significant amount of group interaction/employee involvement
  • Realistic case studies and practice exercises
  • A mix of guidelines and specific examples
  • The opportunity to ask questions
  • Follow up communications

  Next: Module 2 Summary