The City of Atlanta’s Code of Ethics seeks to ensure that governmental decisions are made in the public’s best interest by prohibiting city officials and employees from participating in matters that affect their personal or financial interests. By following the standards established in the code, board and commission members help the City of Atlanta gain the full trust of its citizens as a government that conducts itself in an open, honest, and fair manner.
Board Members Covered Under the Code of Ethics
The Ethics Code applies to all individuals who are elected or appointed to a city agency, board, commission, committee, or other body, including joint boards to which the Mayor or City Council has appointment powers. It does not matter whether the person serves as a volunteer or is paid for his or her board service.
Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest occurs when a board member has a personal or financial interest or engages in an outside activity that is incompatible with the board member’s official duties or impairs his or her judgment or action.
Participation in Contracts. City board members may not participate in any decision related to a contract or other matter in which they, their immediate family, or their business has a financial or personal interest. See § 2-812.
Doing Business with the City. Board members may not conduct business transactions with the board on which they serve unless the business is conducted through a sealed competitive bid process. They may work under contract with another city agency provided the subject matter is unrelated to the board’s jurisdiction. See § 2-820 (c).
Private Employment and Services. Board members may not render services for private interests when the service is adverse to and incompatible with the proper discharge of the individual’s official duties. See § 2-820 (b).
Investments. No board member may hold any direct or indirect investment in any financial, business, or other private transaction that adversely affects the individual’s official duties to the city’s detriment. See § 2-820 (a).
City officials may not accept gifts, personal honoraria, or other things of value from a prohibited source. A gift may include food, flowers, tickets, travel, or discounts.
Prohibited Sources. A prohibited source is a person or entity that seeks official action from the City, seeks or does business with the City, represents a client seeking official action or business, is a registered lobbyist under state law, or has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance of the board member’s official duties. See § 2-801.
Gifts. A city official must decline any gifts from a prohibited source unless the gift falls within an exception to the definition of gratuity. There are exceptions for (1) awards, plaques, certificates, mementos, novelties, or similar items given in recognition of public service; (2) nominal gifts from representatives of other governments; (3) gifts from family members; and (4) gifts accepted on behalf of the City. See §§ 2-801, 2-817, 2-818.
Meals. Board members may accept reasonable meals and refreshments furnished in connection with their appearance in an official capacity at a public, civic, charitable, or non-profit ceremony, event, convention, or conference. See § 2-801.
Travel. Board members may accept reasonable hosting expenses from non-city sources for travel, meals, and lodging provided in connection with teaching, a speaking engagement, participation on a professional or civic panel, or attendance at a conference in an official capacity. See §§ 2-801 & 2-815.
Use of Public Property. City board members may not use city property, vehicles, equipment, labor, or services for their own personal use or for the private advantage of any other person, unless the general public may use the property in the same way. City officials should use city property only to perform official city business. See § 2-811.
Confidential Information. A board member may not disclose any confidential information concerning the property, operations, policies, or affairs of the City or use the information acquired in an official capacity to advance any personal or financial interests. See § 2-819.
Representation. Board members may not appear on behalf of private interests before their own board or its oversight department, and may not represent private interests before the courts in actions in conflict with the city’s interests or involving the City as a party. See §§ 2-808, 2-809.
Solicitations. A board member may not solicit anything calculated to influence a decision or the exercise of official authority. See §2-818.
Candidacy for City Office. City board members must resign from their city position when they file as a candidate for the office of Mayor, City Council president, or City Council member. See § 114-2.
Restrictions on Activities after Leaving City Service. The City has a one-year cooling off period. It prohibits city board members from appearing before the board on which they served or its oversight department for one year and from receiving compensation for any services in any matter in which they were directly concerned, personally participated, actively considered, or acquired knowledge while serving on the board. See § 2-810.
Disclosure of Interests
Contract Decisions. A board member may not participate directly or indirectly in any contract or subcontract in which the official, an immediate family member, an employer, or a prospective employer has a financial or personal interest. See § 2-813.
Disclosure of Interests in Decisions. When a board member knows or should know that he or she has a financial or personal interest in any proposal or decision pending before the board, the official is required to publicly disclose the financial or personal interest orally at the meeting where the matter is to be determined, have the disclosure made a part of the board’s minutes or other official record, and complete the Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest form online at https://apps.atlantaga.gov/efile.
Disclosure of Financial Interests. The Code of Ethics requires board members to file a financial disclosure statement every year that they serve and in the year after they leave city service. The statement requires disclosure of employment, sources of business income, contracts with the City, city employment of immediate family members, and ownership of real property. It does not require disclosure of specific amounts of income. The failure to file can result in monetary fines, public reprimands, and removal from office. See § 2-814.
Other Disclosure Forms. City officials must disclose expense reimbursements for travel from a prohibited source and gifts accepted on behalf of the City of Atlanta. See §§ 2-815, 2-818.
This list is a summary of key provisions in the Code of Ethics, sections 2-801 to 2-824 of the Code of Ordinances. It is not intended as a guide in any specific situation. For questions about how these rules apply to you in a particular situation, contact the Ethics Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.330.6286.