ICMA: Reviewing Tenet 12 of the Code of Ethics

As a part of the 90th anniversary of the Code of Ethics, ICMA is going through each tenet and asking for feedback about their relevance in the modern era of local government and whether any of them should be changed. This started with Tenet 7 and this month they moved on to Tenet 12. ELGL is excited about this project because of the way ICMA is collecting the feedback. They are using a company called MindMixer to collect online input from their members, this interactive approach is a sort of online conversation.

ICMA mindmixer

ICMA Dialogue on Tenet 12 and the Guidelines

The formal review of the ICMA Code of Ethics, launched in 2013 with Tenet 7, continues this year with a focus on Tenet 12. Tenet 12 requires members to:

“Seek no favor; believe that personal aggrandizement or profit secured by confidential information or by misuse of public time is dishonest.”


Why Tenet 12?

This Tenet covers a broad range of common issues that are significant for professionals working in local government: gifts, conflicts of interest, personal relationships, use of confidential information, outside employment, and endorsements. Because professionals encounter these issues on a regular basis, and they can be complicated to address, this Tenet and the guidelines generate many requests to ICMA for ethics advice.


There has been no major review or revision of the Tenet and guidelines since initially drafted in 1972. Some of the language, notably in the endorsement guidelines, is quite dated and the use of social media among professionals can create ambiguities in interpreting Tenet 12. For all of these reasons, Tenet 12 was selected by the ICMA Committee on Professional Conduct as this year’s tenet for review.

To provide your feedback, visit icma.mindmixer.com. If you have not visited the site before, you will be asked to setup an account. For additional information, read the article at the website.

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