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Let’s Talk Ethics

The role of an ethics commission in the Pennsylvania municipal government is to uphold ethical standards and ensure transparency and accountability in the conduct of public officials and employees. The ethics commission serves as an independent body responsible for administering and enforcing the Pennsylvania Ethics Act, which sets forth guidelines and regulations for ethical behavior in public service. It is in your best interest to pay close attention to the rules and regulations this body is charged with enforcing. Check with your solicitor regularly, and do not hesitate to contact the commission before taking any questionable action to avoid a potentially difficult situation. The best advice, if you're not 110% certain your actions are in line with, talk to them first.

Here are some key aspects of the role of an ethics commission in Pennsylvania's municipal government:

Promoting Ethical Conduct: The ethics commission works to promote ethical conduct among public officials and employees by providing guidance and education on ethical standards and best practices. They may conduct training sessions, workshops, or seminars to raise awareness about

ethical obligations and help individuals understand their responsibilities.

Advising on Conflicts of Interest: One of the significant functions of an ethics commission is to advise public officials and employees on matters related to conflicts of interest. They review financial disclosures and provide guidance on potential disputes that may arise in the course of their duties. The commission helps individuals navigate situations where personal interests may conflict with their official responsibilities.

Investigating Ethics Violations: The ethics commission has the authority to investigate allegations of ethics violations committed by public officials and employees. This includes conducting inquiries, gathering evidence, and interviewing relevant parties. The commission can impose penalties, such as fines, reprimands, or recommend appropriate disciplinary actions if a violation is substantiated.

Enforcement of Ethics Laws: The commission is responsible for enforcing the Pennsylvania Ethics Act and other related laws. They ensure compliance with disclosure requirements, financial reporting, and other ethical standards. The commission may have the power to issue subpoenas, administer oaths, and take appropriate legal actions to enforce compliance.

Providing Advisory Opinions: The ethics commission may issue advisory opinions upon request or on its own initiative. These opinions offer guidance on ethical matters, interpreting the law in specific situations, and providing clarity on how to navigate potential conflicts or ethical dilemmas. Advisory opinions help public officials, and employees understand their obligations and make informed decisions.

Maintaining Public Trust: By upholding ethical standards and enforcing ethical behavior, the ethics commission plays a vital role in maintaining public trust in the government. Their efforts help ensure that public officials and employees serve the public interest and act with integrity. This contributes to a transparent and accountable municipal government that citizens can trust.

Overall, the ethics commission for Pennsylvania municipal government plays a crucial role in promoting and enforcing ethical conduct, advising on conflicts of interest, investigating violations, providing guidance through advisory opinions, and fostering public trust in government institutions. Their work helps maintain the integrity of the public service and contributes to good governance at the municipal level. “Fire up this up” and set your ethics level high.


About the Author

David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 33 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.

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