The strength of a local government and its decision-making entities is contingent, in large part, upon the strength of its legal infrastructure. This legal infrastructure comprises laws that regulate the behaviour of employees and officials in government while promoting accountability, transparency and high ethical standards. Of the eight tools presented in this section, the first five are laws that guide the establishment of transparent and accountable systems.(51) As local bureaucracies grow and adapt to meet evolving community needs, such laws provide a procedural framework that assures accountability in the delivery and procurement of government services and consistent oversight capacity in decision-making structures. These laws also play a critical role in restoring public trust and citizen confidence in the administration of government.
The other category of tools explored in this section aim to strengthen the ethical side of local government, by laying down codes of conduct and providing training on ethical behaviour. Tools that fall under this category include Codes of Ethics, Ethical Campaign Practices, and Ethics Training.
It is important to point out that this section does not restrict itself to tools that aim at building ethics in local government alone. As governance involves all pillars of the society, including the private sector, and the civil society, other stakeholders must also adopt high ethical standards in their operations and activities. Tools such as Code of Ethics are, therefore, targeted towards a wide range of stakeholders, including the local government, NGOs, the media and professional associations. Similarly, "Integrity Pacts" seek to promote a high standard of ethics and transparency in dealings between the public and private sectors.
Tools included in this section are:
2.15 Conflict of Interest Laws
2.16 Disclosure of Income and Assets
2.17 Lobbyist Registration
2.18 Whistleblower Protection
2.19 The Integrity Pact
2.20 Code of Ethics
2.21 Ethical Campaign Practices
2.22 Ethics Training
Box35 (Ethics Guidance in Canadian Legislation) shows the importance of combining the most appropriate tools to develop an effective ethical basis in local governance.
- Readers might note that many city/state examples in this section are from the USA or North America. This is because one of the objectives of the Toolkit is to bring to the users the best examples of application of various tools. Many of the tools included under this section (e.g., Disclosure of Income and Assets, Lobbyist Registration, Whistleblower Protection and Codes of Ethics) have been applied most effectively and successfully in North American cities and states.