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Ethics for Tribal Board and Council Members


A moral compass is needed to travel the often-rough roads of tribal politics. Are you prepared to navigate through the maze of ethical issues that tribal government officials face today? Though the vast majority of tribal officials conduct their business with flawless ethical standards, many decisions that they make are fraught with ethical dilemmas, either real or perceived. The fact is, when it comes to ethics, appearance is everything. Public scrutiny of tribal government activities and an increased awareness of ethics laws and regulations mandate that all tribal officials be above reproach.

During this class, youíll find out how to develop a code of ethics, from the code structure to purpose and objectives to rules and guidelines. A popular two-day workshop, it will teach you how to distinguish between legal and ethical considerations. Real-life case studies, ethical dilemmas and conflicts will be explored to help you develop a sense of what is legal, ethical or both. Self-assessment exercises will allow you to examine your organizationís current status and future needs.

We'll guide you through the process of establishing and enforcing high ethical standards in the workplace. Youíll learn how to develop an ethics code, address violations, ensure compliance and enforce the code.


T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Introduction to Ethics
  • Public service values
  • Finding ethical solutions
  • Getting a handle on ethics
  • Anticorruption strategies
Assessment Tools
  • Diagnostic checklists:
    • Policy
    • Detection tools
    • Management
    • Elected and appointed officials
Making a Code of Ethics Work
  • Management’s responsibility
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Financial disclosure
  • Use of influence
Readings in Public Ethics
  • Conformity to law
  • Procedural fairness
  • Ethical styles
Developing a Code of Ethics
  • Getting started
  • Code structure
  • Task force
  • Purposes and objectives
  • Interviews
  • Rules and guidelines
  • Who is covered by the code?
  • Sample code
Problem Solving
  • 10-step ethics problem-solving model
  • Putting the model into practice
Sanctions for Violating the Code
  • Losing independence
  • Use of confidential information
  • Privacy Act issues
  • Real and apparent conflicts
Standards of Conduct
  • In which tribal document are these located?
  • Who imposes them?
  • Sanctions for violations
  • Sample standards
  • Using public office for personal gain
  • Making decisions outside of official channels
  • 5 CFR, Part 2635 — Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch
  • Nepotism
Travel-Related Issues
  • Appropriate conduct while on official duty
  • Misappropriation of travel funds — examples, case studies
Practical Problems
  • Accepting gratuities/gifts
  • What about the free lunch?
  • Dealing with contractors
  • Contracting with relatives
  • Receiving benefits from federal or tribal programs
  • Using tribal or federal property
Avoiding Conflicts and Ethics Violations
  • Identifying potential conflicts
  • Documenting your actions
  • What to do if in doubt
  • What to do if you’re offered bribes or kickbacks
  • Crossing the line — when ethical violations become violations of the law
Case Studies
  • Real-life scenarios
  • Ethical questions
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