Values in Action
The City's use of values as guidelines for public service is getting national attention and becoming a model for other communities to infuse ethics into municipal government. Santa Clara's Code of Ethics and Values is useful to other cities that are interested in identifying and employing shared community values as guidelines for day-to-day actions and decision-making in operating a municipality.
In 1999, the City's work on values was described during the League of California Cities Annual Conference. In 2000, City representatives were featured speakers at the International Conference on Making Cities Livable. In April 2001, the Santa Clara ethics/values program was the subject of a "best practice" presentation at the International City/County Management Association Symposium. And in 2002, Santa Clara's project on campaign ethics was honored with a Helen Putnam Award for Excellence (PDF) from the League of California Cities.
Also, view the City of Santa Clara's Case Study (PDF) presented at the ICMA Best Practices Symposium. In addition, you may also view the updated City of Santa Clara's Code of Ethics and Values (PDF), that is a part of the Case Study referred to above.
The Code was developed by a committee of City Council members, City Commissioners, residents, and City staff that worked with representatives of the Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Eight core values (ethical, professional, service-oriented, fiscally responsible, organized, communicative, collaborative, and progressive) that are the basis for the operating culture of City Hall were identified and described in specific language that included the actions and attitudes that would exemplify each value.
Since the Code's adoption, workshops have been held for elected officials and department heads in the City to familiarize them with the Code and how it can be a practical tool in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities in municipal government. Citizen members of the City's Board and Commissions participated in similar workshops and some departments have completed training for all employees. Special workshops have been held for candidates in the municipal elections since 2000 and a public outreach program launched to educate voters about how to evaluate ethical campaign practices outlined in the Voters Guide.
The Council initiated the development of this new Code with desire to help every individual involved in Santa Clara government be better prepared to contribute successfully to the City's mission statement: 'To promote a living and working environment that allows for the best quality of life by serving the community with resourceful, efficient, progressive and professional leadership.' The eight identified values were felt to describe City employees at their best.