Trust is an asset as important as any that can be found on our balance sheets.

Public service is a special trust. The finance office plays an important role in the public service. The finance office has stewardship over citizens' shared financial resources. These resources make possible the services that are essential to the safety, livability, and vitality of our communities.

We, the government finance officers of the United States and Canada, have a deep and abiding desire to show that we are worthy of the trust that has been bestowed upon us. We strive to show it to the citizens of the communities we serve and to their elected representatives. We strive to remain true to the values that drive our work as public servants.

Trust is an asset as important as any that can be found on our balance sheets. But how can we maintain and grow this asset?

GFOA's Code of Ethics shows us how to live these values. It recognizes that people are imperfect and that we are all subject to biases that can challenge ethical behavior. Our Code asks the members of government finance offices to confront these challenges in order to serve our communities to the best of our abilities.

When we think of ethics in the finance office, our minds might jump to high-profile fraud, malfeasance, or mismanagement. However, everyday ethical issues like vendor gifts or how employees record time occupy much of the finance office’s time and attention. Furthermore, how these how these issues are handled sets the tone for ethical behavior in your local government.

Finance offices often have policies to provide guidance to staff and/or elected officials on how to handle everyday ethical issues. However, getting people to pay attention to and live by these polices can be a challenge.

The new GFOA Code of Ethics is a reimagining of how finance offices think about ethics. The old way was centered on telling people what to do and what not to do. The new Code of Ethics asks finance offices to think about ethics as synonymous with building trust with elected officials, other staff members, and the public.

GFOA has carried through this thinking to a new set of model policies for everyday ethical challenges. 

Download Model Policy Templates

Vendor Relations and Gifts

Download Model Template

Proper Use of Staff Time

Download Model Template

Making Gifts with Public Funds

Download Model Template