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City Council approves Accountability Framework

City Council approves Accountability Framework

City Council has approved the remaining pieces of the City’s Accountability Framework, as recommended by the City’s Integrity Commissioner, Robert Marleau, continuing its commitment to making municipal government more transparent and accountable to the public.

The Code of Conduct for Members of Council, Gifts Registry, Council Expense Policy and Community, Fundraising and Special Events Policy, in addition to the existing Public Disclosure of Office Expenses, Integrity Commissioner and Lobbyist Registry, constitute the most comprehensive set of integrity guidelines and practises implemented voluntarilyat the municipal level in the Province of Ontario.

The final pieces of the City Council’s Accountability Framework, as approved by City Council, include:

 – Code of Conduct for Members of Council: The Code is based on the view that elected officials make decisions with an open mind, with concern for the public good and not personal benefit, and without giving preferential treatment to family, friends and supporters. The Code emphasizes that elected officials should be seen to be open about the manner in which they perform their role as Members of Council, with proactive disclosure being an important tool to increase public trust. The Code will also apply to citizen members of the Transit Commission and Built Heritage Sub-Committee with respect to City business.

 – Gifts Registry: Members will disclose all gifts, benefits and hospitality received which individually exceed $30 from one source in a calendar year. Event tickets of a value exceeding $30 will also be disclosed, listing who attended with the Member or, if donated, to whom or to what organization the ticket was donated. Disclosures will be listed quarterly on ottawa.ca.

– Council Expense Policy: Will guide how Members of Council spend their Constituency Services Budgets. It reflects current practices and reinforces the existing rules and restrictions surrounding Corporate/Purchasing Cards, as well as a Member’s personal liability with respect to any budget overages and strengthens accounting practices based on audits in other jurisdictions. It also includes adding public disclosure for all City-related business travel, establishing a 3.5% cap for donations and prohibiting contributions to other City-funded programs and services except by Council motion.

 – Community, Fundraising and Special Events Policy: A new, formal policy to govern Member events and Members’ benevolent (charitable) activities. It codifies current accounting practices for specific, sponsored events and prohibits the solicitation or acceptance of donations or sponsorships from a lobbyist, or their clients or employees of the client, with active registrations in the Lobbyist Registry without pre-approval from the Integrity Commissioner. It establishes procedures surrounding third-party organized charitable events sponsored by a Member, and provides additional guidelines for municipal election years, while requiring the annual disclosure of sponsorships and expenses related to some specific Member-organized events.

The framework reflects extensive consultation with every Member of Council and other integrity officials, as well as collaboration with the City Clerk and Solicitor and his staff.

The Code of Conduct and its companion pieces will take effect on July 1, 2013.