Cities of Ethics

GMA's City of Ethics program is not in any way approval of past or present conduct by the city or any city official. Additionally, GMA is not a regulatory body and does not adjudicate ethics issues for municipalities. Instead, the City of Ethics program is an attempt to raise awareness about ethics issues at the local level and provide a local forum for the airing and resolution of legitimate concerns. The use of a local ethics ordinance allows citizens to raise their concerns and participate in the ethics investigation process at the local level, where the voice and influence of the individual citizen is strongest.

First Time Designation

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To earn a "GMA Certified City of Ethics" designation for the first time, a city must:

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:

  1. Serve others, not ourselves
  2. Use resources with efficiency and economy
  3. Treat all people fairly
  4. Use the power of our position for the well-being of our constituents
  5. Create an environment of honesty, openness and integrity

The Resolution must be executed by the majority of the city’s governing body and must reference the five ethics principles (see Sample Resolution).

Adopt an Ethics Ordinance that Meets the 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. When considering provisions to include in a comprehensive code of ethics (see Sample Ethics Ordinance). The Sample Ethics Ordinance accurately reflects the types of provisions considered essential to a local ethics ordinance.

Application Fee

A one-time application fee of $85 is charged and must be included (made payable to Georgia Municipal Association).

Submit the above-mentioned bulleted items, with a cover letter (on city letterhead) addressed to the contact below requesting designation in the program or submit online.

Georgia Municipal Association
Attention: Gina Gresham
201 Pryor Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

The submission will be forwarded to the GMA Ethics Certification Committee for review and approval. If this panel of attorneys determines the city meets the established requirements, the city will be approved as a "Certified City of Ethics" and will be recognized during the GMA Annual Convention or Cities United Summit and will be provided a plaque memorializing the city’s induction as a “Certified City of Ethics” (see submission deadline dates below).


Adopt a Current Resolution Establishing the Five Ethics Principles Every (Required Every 4 Years after Designation)

Re-adopt a recent Resolution establishing the five ethics principles (the Resolution must be executed by the majority of the city’s current governing body (see Sample Resolution). If the city as made changes to it’s Ethics Ordinance since the last recertification, please include a copy of the repealed Ordinance.

Submit the above-mentioned Resolution, a cover letter on city letterhead requesting re-certification in the Ethics program. If the city has made any changes to its Ethics Ordinance since the last re-certification, please include a copy of the new Ordinance. In the cover letter, please inform the GMA Committee of the changes made to the Ordinance for review. Send the requested documents to the above-mentioned contact by the deadline date (no fee is associated to re-certify for members in good standing). A plaque will not be provided for a re-certification as a “Certified City of Ethics.”

Submission Deadline Dates

Cities have two opportunities to be Designated and/or Re-certified in the Certified City of Ethics program. Designation recognition and Re-certification recognition in the Ethics program are acknowledged annually during both the GMA Annual Convention in June and the Cities United Summit in January. The required documents for recognition during the GMA Convention must be submitted to the GMA contact for approval by April 30. The required documents for recognition during Cities United Summit in January must be submitted to the GMA contact for approval by November 30.

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."

Resources at a Glance