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Local leaders react to audit of Tallahassee’s Ethical Culture

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The latest audit of the City of Tallahassee’s Ethical Culture has been released; it’s the first one conducted since 2008.

The City’s new Inspector General, Dennis Sutton, spearheaded the study and report.

The report says the goals were to:

  1. determine whether City employees understood ethical values, and
  2. how much City employees comply with those policies.

It concluded that the City has many of the recommended components and procedures for a strong ethics program, but there is room for improvement.

There have been big changes since the last audit, including turnover in elected and appointed City leadership and the creation of an Independent Ethics Board.

The 24-page report surveyed City employees, taking months to produce.

The audit shows awareness and training on ethics has increased.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey says he’s pleased with the data.

“We have passed the strongest ethics reform package in the history of the City of Tallahassee, we have the strongest ethics reform package of any municipality in the state of Florida, and when

you look at the data, it shows we’re heading in the right direction,” said Dailey.

City Commissioner Jack Porter says the fact that the City conducted an audit is a step in the right direction.

“Some of the highlights, some of the good things, are that people overall, City employees, are feeling better about their leadership, about City leadership as a whole,” said Porter.

However, both agree, there is room for improvement.

“Nothing is ever perfect. We should continuously strive to move forward, to be the best that we possibly can, make the changes when it’s appropriate, and make sure that we are a true reflection of the City of Tallahassee,” said Dailey.

Porter pointed out one major concern of hers.

“There was a high number of people who had witnessed illegal or unethical behavior, and did not report it,” she said.

One of the recommendations in the report is to establish anti-fraud and whistleblower policies; Porter believes that’s important.

“I think we need that at the City level and I think we need that for our independent ethics board,” she added.

Other recommendations include communicating expectations of ethical behavior, codifying directions on ethics training, and implementing a review procedure for outside employment.

Staff will give Commissioners a presentation at a coming City Commission meeting; that will include an opportunity for public comment.

The entire audit is available online here.

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