Codes of Ethics and Values
These materials were prepared for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics program in Government Ethics by Senior Fellow Judy Nadler and Communications Director Miriam Schulman. The Center provides training in local government ethics for public officials. For more information, contact Hana Callaghan.
A code is a set of principles that encapsulate the values a government body believes should inform its work. Yet, however laudable these principles, a code will have no impact on the behavior of government officials unless it is woven into the culture of the municipality.
In 1999, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics worked with the city of Santa Clara to develop a process not only for creating a code, but also for putting that code into practice. Santa Clara's Code of Ethics & Values was, according to its framers, "designed to provide clear, positive statements of ethical behavior reflecting the core values of the community. The Code includes practical strategies for addressing ethical questions and a useful framework for decision-making and handling the day-to-day operations of the municipality."
The city's "Ethics and Values" Web site provides access to the code, as well as information for other local government bodies interested in the process of infusing ethics into municipal government.