Code Of Ethics
In addition to the following Code of Ethics and policies, Porter County Government is a member of Shared Ethics Commission. The Commissioners primary goals include heightening awareness of ethical issues within municipal government and assist municipal employees with the practical tools to make ethical decisions.
Their mission is accomplished through a variety of methods, including regular training sessions, printed training materials, advocacy articles and an ongoing collaborative effort to enhance ethical behavior within participating governments.
CODE OF ETHICS
- All employees should govern themselves positively so ethical situations do not reflect negatively upon themselves or the County.
- Conflicts of Interest: No County employee shall engage in any act which is a conflict of interest, or creates an appearance of a conflict of interest, within the performance of their official duties. Conflicts of interests are any direct or indirect monetary or material benefits accruing to a County employee as a result of a contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of an official act or action by or with the County. No employee may use, or corruptly attempt to use, his or her official position or any property or resource within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties to obtain a special privilege, benefit or exemption for him or herself or others. County employees may not receive County-provided services that are not available to the public, unless authorized by the Board of County Commissioners through approved personnel policies or other directives.
- An employee shall be deemed to have a conflict of interest if the employee:
- Has any financial interest in any sale to the County of any goods or services when such financial interest was received with prior knowledge that the County intended to purchase the property, goods, or services or has any non-business relationship with any vendor or contractor which could reasonably be construed by a prudent person that the employee’s independence, impartiality, and fairness has been compromised.
- Solicits, accepts, or seeks a gift, gratuity, or favor from any person, firm, or corporation involved in contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of official action by the County.
- Directly or indirectly gives or receives, or agrees to receive compensation, gift, reward, commission, or gratuity from any source except the County or those groups approved by the Board of Commissioners, or designee for any matter directly connected with or related to his or her official services as an employee of the County.
- Engages in, accepts employment from, or provides services for private interests for any compensation or consideration having monetary value when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties.
- Participates in his or her capacity as a County employee in issuing of a purchase order or contract in which he or she has a private pecuniary interest, directly or indirectly.
- Discloses or uses without authorization confidential information concerning property or affairs of the County to advance a private interest with respect to any contract or transaction which is or may be the subject of official action of the County.
- No employee of the County shall request, use, or permit the use of County-owned vehicles, clothing, equipment, materials, or other property for unauthorized personal convenience, for profit, for private use, or as part of secondary employment. Use of County property is for the conduct of official business only.
- Authorized personal uses may include taking an assigned County vehicle to lunch on workdays as needed.
- Employees shall not alter, falsify, destroy, mutilate, backdate, or fail to make required entries on any records within their control, nor shall they allow other persons to do so.
- No County employee may use County time or property in a manner to promote any political issue or candidate, or to solicit funds for any political purpose, or to influence the outcome of any election. No County employee shall hold any publicly elected office when the holding of such office would be incompatible or would substantially interfere with the discharge of official duties.
POLICY AGAINST FRAUDULENT OR DISHONEST ACTS
- It is the policy of Porter County that all County employees shall adhere to the County code of Ethics in Section 2.04 and this policy against fraudulent and other dishonest acts.
- The term fraud can be defined as, but is not limited to, any dishonest or fraudulent act(s) to include: intentional material misstatement of the financial statements, forgery or alteration of any document, misappropriation of funds, supplies, etc., improper handling or reporting of money or financial transactions, profiting by self or others as a result of inside knowledge, destruction or intentional disappearance of records, furniture, fixtures or equipment, accepting or seeking anything of material value from vendors or persons providing services or materials to the County for personal benefit, and/or any similar or related irregularity.
- Opportunities for fraud may occur because of the following reasons: poor internal controls, management override of internal controls, collusion between employees and third parties, poor or non-existing ethical standards, lack of control over supervisors by managers, and type of organization.
- Department Heads at all levels of county management are expected to set the appropriate tone by displaying the proper attitude toward complying with laws, rules, regulations, and policies.
- Department Heads are responsible for adhering to the internal control of the policy as approved by the Commissioners.
- Department Heads should be cognizant of the risks and exposures inherent in their areas of responsibility, and be alert for the symptoms of fraudulent or other dishonest acts.
- All employees are encouraged to be alert for possible fraud and are required to promptly report any suspected fraud.
- Reporting – Any employee who has knowledge or a reasonable suspicion that a fraudulent or other dishonest act has occurred should report it through the chain of command. If the employee has reason to believe that the employee’s department head is involved, the employee shall report the suspected fraud to the Human Resources Director. Department Heads that become aware of suspected fraudulent and dishonest activity are to respond in a consistent and appropriate manner and shall report the suspected activity to the Human Resources Director. Employees are required to cooperate fully in any subsequent investigation.
- The County makes every attempt to protect employees from retaliatory action due to reports of suspected fraud in accordance with the Whistle-blower Act. The Act protects an employee from retaliatory action by an organization against an employee who reports an appropriate contractor that creates a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare. Additionally, the act protects employees reporting improper use of a government office, gross waste of funds, or any other abuse or neglect of duty on the part of an agency, public officer, or employee.
- County employees shall not use their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or a nomination of office, for influencing another person’s vote, or affecting the result thereof.
- No employee, official, or other person shall solicit orally, by letter or in any other manner, any assessments, petitions, contributions, or services for any political party or individual candidate from any employee during their hours of duty, service, or work with the County.
- Nothing herein contained shall be construed to restrict the right of the employee to hold membership in and support a political party, to vote as they choose, to express opinion on all political subjects and candidates, to maintain political neutrality, to attend political meetings after working hours, or to campaign actively during off-duty hours in all areas of political activity.
EMPLOYMENT OF RELATIVES
The intent of this provision is to restrict the employment of relatives within the County Departments/offices and prohibit preferential treatment or favoritism such relationships may cause. For the purpose of this policy, “relative” is a spouse, child, parent or step parent, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, brother or sister, step brother or step sister, or daughter in-law or son -law. An adopted child is treated as a natural child of the individual. The terms “brother” and “sister” shall include a brother or sister by half-blood (a common parent).The County will exercise sound business judgment in the placement of related employees in accordance with the following guidelines:
- No relative of a County employee may be appointed, employed, retained, promoted or transferred within the same department/program where a relative of the individual has direct supervision, jurisdiction, or control over the position, unless such employment has been determined in the best interest of the County and approved by the Board of Commissioners or his/her designee. (Exceptions will be narrowly interpreted and shall only be applied when circumstances obviously benefit the County. An example of such a circumstance would be the employment of a relative possessing a specialized and needed skill after recruitment has been unsuccessful in locating a non-relative with the required skill.)
- If, while employed by the County, individuals become related by marriage or adoption the following policy shall apply:
- If neither individual has direct in-line supervision, control, or jurisdiction over the other nor do not work in the same work unit, both employees may retain their positions.
- Should marriage or adoption occur between the supervisor and a subordinate employee, one of the employees must transfer to end the supervisory relationship, if possible, or if not possible, be terminated from the position.
- If the employees cannot decide who is to be transferred or terminated within thirty (30) days the County will make the decision.
OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT AND ACTIVITIES
- Employees of the County shall not engage in any outside employment, enterprise, or other activities, whether paid or unpaid, which would interfere, be inconsistent, incompatible, or in legal, ethical, or technical conflict with their duties as County employees or with the functions and responsibilities of the Department or office for which they work.
- Any County employee who engages in non-County employment or activity shall not be able to receive Workers’ Compensation or a disability plan when illness, injury, or disability results from such outside employment or other activities.
- Permission to engage in outside employment or other activities may be denied or withdrawn at any time when it is determined by the approving authority such activity interferes with the employee’s production, efficiency, causes a discredit to, or is in conflict with the interests of the County.