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ICMA Code of Ethics

Copyright © 2008 by the International City/County Management Association

ICMA Code of Ethics

With Guidelines

The ICMA Code of Ethics was adopted by the ICMA membership in 1924, and most recently

amended by the membership in May 1998. The Guidelines for the Code were adopted by the

ICMA Executive Board in 1972, and most recently revised in July 2004.

The mission of ICMA is to create excellence in local governance by developing and fostering professional local government

management worldwide. To further this mission, certain principles, as enforced by the Rules of Procedure, shall govern the

conduct of every member of ICMA, who shall:

1. Be dedicated to the concepts of effective and democratic

local government by responsible elected officials and

believe that professional general management is

essential to the achievement of this objective.

2. Affirm the dignity and worth of the services rendered by

government and maintain a constructive, creative, and

practical attitude toward local government affairs and a deep

sense of social responsibility as a trusted public servant.


Advice to Officials of Other Local Governments. When

members advise and respond to inquiries from elected or

appointed officials of other local governments, they should

inform the administrators of those communities.

3. Be dedicated to the highest ideals of honor and integrity

in all public and personal relationships in order that the

member may merit the respect and confidence of the

elected officials, of other officials and employees, and of

the public.


Public Confidence. Members should conduct themselves

so as to maintain public confidence in their profession, their

local government, and in their performance of the public


Impression of Influence. Members should conduct their

official and personal affairs in such a manner as to give the

clear impression that they cannot be improperly influenced

in the performance of their official duties.

Appointment Commitment. Members who accept an

appointment to a position should not fail to report for that

position. This does not preclude the possibility of a member

considering several offers or seeking several positions at the

same time, but once a bona fide offer of a position has been

accepted, that commitment should be honored. Oral

acceptance of an employment offer is considered binding

unless the employer makes fundamental changes in terms of


Credentials. An application for employment or for

ICMA’s Voluntary Credentialing Program should be

complete and accurate as to all pertinent details of

education, experience, and personal history. Members

should recognize that both omissions and inaccuracies must

be avoided.

Professional Respect. Members seeking a management

position should show professional respect for persons

formerly holding the position or for others who might be

applying for the same position. Professional respect does

not preclude honest differences of opinion; it does preclude

attacking a person's motives or integrity in order to be

appointed to a position.

Reporting Ethics Violations. When becoming aware of a

possible violation of the ICMA Code of Ethics, members

are encouraged to report the matter to ICMA. In reporting

the matter, members may choose to go on record as the

complainant or report the matter on a confidential basis.

Confidentiality. Members should not discuss or divulge

information with anyone about pending or completed ethics

cases, except as specifically authorized by the Rules of

Procedure for Enforcement of the Code of Ethics.

Seeking Employment. Members should not seek

employment for a position having an incumbent

administrator who has not resigned or been officially

informed that his or her services are to be terminated.

4. Recognize that the chief function of local government at

all times is to serve the best interests of all of the people.


Length of Service. A minimum of two years generally is

considered necessary in order to render a professional

service to the local government. A short tenure should be

the exception rather than a recurring experience. However,

under special circumstances, it may be in the best interests

of the local government and the member to separate in a

shorter time. Examples of such circumstances would

include refusal of the appointing authority to honor

commitments concerning conditions of employment, a vote

of no confidence in the member, or severe personal

problems. It is the responsibility of an applicant for a

position to ascertain conditions of employment.

Inadequately determining terms of employment prior to

arrival does not justify premature termination.

5. Submit policy proposals to elected officials; provide

them with facts and advice on matters of policy as a

basis for making decisions and setting community goals;

and uphold and implement local government policies

adopted by elected officials.

Copyright © 2008 by the International City/County Management Association


Conflicting Roles. Members who serve multiple roles--

working as both city attorney and city manager for the same

community, for example--should avoid participating in

matters that create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

They should disclose the potential conflict to the governing

body so that other opinions may be solicited.

6. Recognize that elected representatives of the people are

entitled to the credit for the establishment of local

government policies; responsibility for policy execution

rests with the members.

7. Refrain from all political activities which undermine

public confidence in professional administrators. Refrain

from participation in the election of the members of the

employing legislative body.


Elections of the Governing Body. Members should

maintain a reputation for serving equally and impartially all

members of the governing body of the local government

they serve, regardless of party. To this end, they should not

engage in active participation in the election campaign on

behalf of or in opposition to candidates for the governing


Elections of Elected Executives. Members should not

engage in the election campaign of any candidate for mayor

or elected county executive.

Running for Office. Members shall not run for elected

office or become involved in political activities related to

running for elected office. They shall not seek political

endorsements, financial contributions or engage in other

campaign activities.

Elections. Members share with their fellow citizens the

right and responsibility to vote and to voice their opinion

on public issues. However, in order not to impair their

effectiveness on behalf of the local governments they

serve, they shall not participate in political activities to

support the candidacy of individuals running for any city,

county, special district, school, state or federal offices.

Specifically, they shall not endorse candidates, make

financial contributions, sign or circulate petitions, or

participate in fund-raising activities for individuals

seeking or holding elected office.

Elections in the Council-Manager Plan. Members may

assist in preparing and presenting materials that explain the

council-manager form of government to the public prior to

an election on the use of the plan. If assistance is required

by another community, members may respond. All

activities regarding ballot issues should be conducted within

local regulations and in a professional manner.

Presentation of Issues. Members may assist the governing

body in presenting issues involved in referenda such as

bond issues, annexations, and similar matters.

8. Make it a duty continually to improve the member's

professional ability and to develop the competence of

associates in the use of management techniques.


Self-Assessment. Each member should assess his or her

professional skills and abilities on a periodic basis.

Professional Development. Each member should commit

at least 40 hours per year to professional development

activities that are based on the practices identified by the

members of ICMA.

9. Keep the community informed on local government

affairs; encourage communication between the citizens

and all local government officers; emphasize friendly

and courteous service to the public; and seek to improve

the quality and image of public service.

10. Resist any encroachment on professional

responsibilities, believing the member should be free to

carry out official policies without interference, and

handle each problem without discrimination on the basis

of principle and justice.


Information Sharing. The member should openly share

information with the governing body while diligently

carrying out the member's responsibilities as set forth in the

charter or enabling legislation.

11. Handle all matters of personnel on the basis of merit so

that fairness and impartiality govern a member's

decisions, pertaining to appointments, pay adjustments,

promotions, and discipline.


Equal Opportunity. All decisions pertaining to

appointments, pay adjustments, promotions, and discipline

should prohibit discrimination because of race, color,

religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, political

affiliation, disability, age, or marital status.

It should be the members' personal and professional

responsibility to actively recruit and hire a diverse staff

throughout their organizations.

12. Seek no favor; believe that personal aggrandizement or

profit secured by confidential information or by misuse

of public time is dishonest.


Gifts. Members should not directly or indirectly solicit any

gift or accept or receive any gift--whether it be money,

services, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, promise, or

Copyright © 2008 by the International City/County Management Association

any other form--under the following circumstances: (1) it

could be reasonably inferred or expected that the gift was

intended to influence them in the performance of their

official duties; or (2) the gift was intended to serve as a

reward for any official action on their part.

It is important that the prohibition of unsolicited gifts be

limited to circumstances related to improper influence. In

de minimus situations, such as meal checks, some modest

maximum dollar value should be determined by the member

as a guideline. The guideline is not intended to isolate

members from normal social practices where gifts among

friends, associates, and relatives are appropriate for certain


Investments in Conflict with Official Duties. Member

should not invest or hold any investment, directly or

indirectly, in any financial business, commercial, or other

private transaction that creates a conflict with their official


In the case of real estate, the potential use of confidential

information and knowledge to further a member's personal

interest requires special consideration. This guideline

recognizes that members' official actions and decisions can

be influenced if there is a conflict with personal

investments. Purchases and sales which might be

interpreted as speculation for quick profit ought to be

avoided (see the guideline on "Confidential Information").

Because personal investments may prejudice or may appear

to influence official actions and decisions, members may, in

concert with their governing body, provide for disclosure of

such investments prior to accepting their position as local

government administrator or prior to any official action by

the governing body that may affect such investments.

Personal Relationships. Member should disclose any

personal relationship to the governing body in any instance

where there could be the appearance of a conflict of interest.

For example, if the manager's spouse works for a developer

doing business with the local government, that fact should

be disclosed.

Confidential Information. Members should not disclose

to others, or use to further their personal interest,

confidential information acquired by them in the course of

their official duties.

Private Employment. Members should not engage in,

solicit, negotiate for, or promise to accept private

employment, nor should they render services for private

interests or conduct a private business when such

employment, service, or business creates a conflict with or

impairs the proper discharge of their official duties.

Teaching, lecturing, writing, or consulting are typical

activities that may not involve conflict of interest, or impair

the proper discharge of their official duties. Prior

notification of the appointing authority is appropriate in all

cases of outside employment.

Representation. Members should not represent any outside

interest before any agency, whether public or private, except

with the authorization of or at the direction of the appointing

authority they serve.

Endorsements. Members should not endorse commercial

products or services by agreeing to use their photograph,

endorsement, or quotation in paid or other commercial

advertisements, whether or not for compensation. Members

may, however, agree to endorse the following, provided

they do not receive any compensation: (1) books or other

publications; (2) professional development or educational

services provided by nonprofit membership organizations or

recognized educational institutions; (3) products and/or

services in which the local government has a direct

economic interest.

Members' observations, opinions, and analyses of

commercial products used or tested by their local

governments are appropriate and useful to the profession

when included as part of professional articles and reports.