Many public officials are required to take an ethics training course to educate them on the ethical standards required of any individual who works in state or local government. Public officials may utilize free online courses available to satisfy this requirement. Please note that the state officials ethics course will not satisfy the local officials ethics course requirements and vice versa.
For State Officials
California law requires state officials to complete an ethics training course within six months of being hired. If your service is ongoing, you must complete the course once during each two-year period. The two-year period begins with an odd-numbered year, for example, 2017-18, 2019-20, etc. To help state officials meet this requirement, the Attorney General’s Office and the Fair Political Practices Commission have developed an online training course. State officials who wish to use this course to satisfy their mandatory ethics training requirement should check with their agency to ensure additional training is not required.
For Local Officials
Cities, counties and special districts in California are required by law (AB 1234, Chapter 700, Stats. of 2005) to provide ethics training to their local officials.
Several training options are available to your agency, including training conducted by commercial organizations, nonprofits, or an agency's own legal counsel. In addition, an online training program has been established that allows local officials to satisfy the requirements of AB 1234 on a cost-free basis. The course can be accessed via the link below. When the training is finished, you must print the Certification of Completion provided at the end.
The law also provides that if an entity develops criteria for the ethics training required by AB 1234, the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorney General need to be consulted regarding any proposed course content. Implementing this provision, the Fair Political Practices Commission has adopted Regulation 18371.
Under the regulation, anyone developing and conducting a local ethics course fulfills its obligation to consult the Fair Political Practices Commission so long as the entity reviews and includes the “core content" topics covered by the Political Reform Act and specified in Regulation 18371(b). The core contents should be reviewed no more than 60 days in advance of the date the training is conducted, or training program is developed, and every year thereafter.
Generally, the Fair Political Practices Commission does not independently review each training course but can be further consulted if there are questions regarding the core content that must be included under the Political Reform Act.
Similarly, the Office of the Attorney General has prepared an outline of course requirements to provide uniform guidance regarding appropriate course content. Due to the demand for ethics training, it is anticipated that the Office of the Attorney General will be unable to review and comment on individual course materials.
Additional resources regarding local agency ethics training may be found on the Attorney General’s webpage at https://oag.ca.gov/ethics and the Institute for Local Government at https://www.ca-ilg.org/ethics-education-and-training-ab-1234.
The FPPC cannot advise on the legal requirements of AB 1234 because the FPPC does not have jurisdiction to do so. For questions pertaining to legal interpretation and application of AB 1234, please consult your local agency counsel.
If you have questions, concerns, or technical issues related to the online training program offered on our website only, please feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Request Advice
If you have questions about your obligations under the Act you can request advice directly from FPPC staff