There are many rules and regulations that govern the ethical behavior of City of Philadelphia elected officers and employees. Some are applicable to officers and employees who work in all branches of government. Others are applicable only to the Mayor, executive branch employees, and members of boards and commissions that report directly to the Mayor. Still others may be created by, and applicable to, employees in a specific department, office, or agency.
These summaries offer a brief introduction to the pertinent ethics rules and regulations. Links are provided to enable a thorough review of the provisions. Questions about their relevance to specific factual situations should be directed to the appropriate office.
Pennsylvania Public Official and Employee Ethics Act (“State Ethics Act”)
The Pennsylvania Public Official and Employee Ethics Act (PDF) (or “State Ethics Act”) is applicable to state and City public officials, public employees, and candidates and nominees for public office or employment. The act is administered and enforced by the State Ethics Commission.
The State Ethics Act provides restrictions on the ethical conduct of covered employees and creates the State Ethics Commission to ensure compliance. Key provisions of the State Ethics Act address:
- Disclosing private financial interests.
- Identifying conflicts of interest.
- Accepting honoraria.
- Soliciting or accepting improper influence.
- Engaging in post-government employment.
- Entering into prohibited contracts.
- Avoiding voting conflicts.
Philadelphia Home Rule Charter ("City Charter") Article 10
The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter (“City Charter”), Article 10 is applicable to City officers and employees in all branches of City government, and to members of certain boards and commissions. It is administered and enforced by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics.
The City Charter outlines the powers, duties, and structure of Philadelphia’s government. Key provisions of Article 10—entitled “Prohibited Activities of Council members, City Officers, Employees and Others, and Penalties”—address:
- Accepting gratuities.
- Soliciting political contributions.
- Engaging in political activity.
- Resigning City employment to run for another public office.
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics established regulations that interpret the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, Article 10 and posts copies of the regulations on its website.
The Philadelphia Code: City Ethics Code
The Philadelphia Code’s City Ethics Code is applicable to officers and employees in all branches of City government, and to members of certain Boards and Commissions. It is administered and enforced by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics.
Chapter 20-600 of the City’s Code of Laws contains a section called “Standards of Conduct and Ethics,” known informally as “The Philadelphia Ethics Code.” Key provisions of the Ethics Code address:
- Representing outside interests before the City.
- Engaging in post-government employment.
- Accepting gifts from those seeking City business.
- Sharing confidential City information.
- Identifying and avoiding conflicts of interest.
- Requiring certain employees, and members of Boards and Commissions, to file an annual Statement of Financial Interests with the City’s Department of Records.
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics established regulations that interpret the City Code of Ethics and posts copies of the regulations on its website.
The Philadelphia Code: Non-Competitively Bid Contracts; Financial Assistance
Chapter 17-1400 of the City Code applies to professional services contractors, recipients of financial assistance, or principal contractors or subcontractors for best value contracts, with limited exceptions.
Known as the City’s “Pay to Play” Law, this law enhances the integrity and transparency of the City’s contracting processes by eliminating the real and perceived favoritism in the awards of City’s professional services contracts and financial assistance. Requires eligibility restrictions, attribution rule, and mandatory disclosure requirements.
Mayor’s Executive Orders
Applicable to executive branch employees and other entities (e.g., boards, commissions, task forces) established by the Mayor, executive orders are directives from the Mayor of Philadelphia. In some cases, such as the acceptance of gifts, executive orders may be stricter than rules applicable to non-executive branch employees.
The Mayor’s Executive Order on Acceptance of Gifts, 10-16
This order prohibits the acceptance of certain gifts from specific sources to City officers and employees. Key provisions address:
- Defining “prohibited sources” from whom no gifts of any value can be accepted.
- Listing of the limited exceptions to the no-gifts-from-prohibited-sources rule.
- Establishing procedures for the return of prohibited gifts.
- Outlining sanctions for offering prohibited gifts.
- Regulating gifts between City employees.
- Creating penalties for non-compliance.
Learn more about the Mayor’s Executive Order on Acceptance of Gifts.
Mayor’s Executive Order on Outside and Self-Employment, 12-16
This order establishes requirements for holding and reporting second jobs.
Learn more about the Mayor’s Executive Order on Outside and Self-Employment.
Mayor’s Executive Order on Prohibition of Nepotism, 1-11
This order prohibits direct supervision of, and personnel actions regarding, close family members. It also mandates disclosure.
Learn more about the Mayor’s Executive Order on Prohibition of Nepotism.
Mayor’s Executive Order on Sexual Harassment Prevention in City Government, 2-18
This order bans discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and creates a mechanism for reporting, investigating, and resolving good faith complaints.
Learn more about the Mayor’s Executive Order on Sexual Harassment Prevention in City Government.
Mayor’s Executive Order on Whistleblower Protections, 9-17
This order protects against retaliation and threat of retaliation for good faith allegations of waste and wrongdoing. It also establishes a mechanism for reporting, investigating, and resolving complaints.
Learn more about the Mayor’s Executive Order on Whistleblower Protections.