Code of conduct

A Code of Conduct provides a framework to guide ethical conduct and reflects the key values of the public agency and the public it serves.

Government policy

Each public agency will have a Code of Conduct (Code) for its members and employees, will have a process for administering their Code and will make their Code available to the public. Prior to their appointment, a member will be screened for potential conflicts of interest.

Context

The Public Agencies Governance Framework (Framework) (0.3 MB) requires that all directors be screened for potential conflicts of interest prior to their appointment. During the screening process, it is important that every potential or actual conflict of interest be identified to determine whether the conflict can be adequately managed.

Section 10 of the Framework states that:

  • all public agencies will have a code of conduct; and
  • the Code will cover issues addressed in the Code of Conduct and Ethics for the Alberta Public Service, conflict of interest disclosure practices and safe disclosure practices.

The Framework also requires that each public agency have a process for administering their Code. The requirements and content for codes of conduct under the Alberta Public Agencies Governance Act (APAGA) can be found in section 11.

Discussion

A Code is an important communication document setting the tone and direction for ethical behaviour. It reflects a commitment to the agency's values and provides a framework to guide ethical conduct in a way that supports the best interests of the agency and the public it serves. As a Code cannot cover every ethical dilemma, the spirit and intent behind it guides conduct. A Code is designed to encourage ethical discussion, while at the same time being practical enough to help members and employees know how to make decisions or where to get advice if needed.

Making the Code publicly available promotes transparency and accountability, and indicates a commitment to ethical conduct.

Generic Code of Conduct for a Public Agency

The "Generic Code of Conduct for a Public Agency" (the Generic Code) is a sample Code for use by public agencies.  The sample Generic Code is presented in two versions:

  1. a Business Casual version which emphasizes by its tone the serious obligation to comply with expectations; and
  2. a First Person Familiar version which emphasizes by its tone inclusiveness and accessibility.

The content in both the Business Casual and the First Person Familiar versions are the same. Both support the requirements of the Framework and the APAGA, and may be used as a starting point to assist public agencies in developing a Code that reflects their unique situation and mandate.

Generic Code of Conduct for a Public Agency - Business Casual (updated Sept 29, 2014)

Generic Code of Conduct for a Public Agency - First Person Familiar (updated Sept 29, 2014)

Guidelines for Developing a Code of Conduct for a Public Agency

The "Guidelines for Developing a Code of Conduct for a Public Agency" provides suggestions and examples to consider when modifying the Generic Code or when developing a new Code. It provides information on core values and principles that provide guidance by which to make a decision; behavioural standards to show how values are applied and practiced; and administrative processes, roles and responsibilities for ensuring the Code's effective implementation.

Guidelines for Developing a Code of Conduct for a Public Agency (updated July 22, 2011)