It is important to remember that NCRA is a voluntary membership organization of individuals. As such, relying exclusively on enforcement-based actions has been ineffective in dealing with those who are not reporters and those who are not members. The Ethics First campaign recognizes this reality. In thinking about the issue of gift giving, it is important to know that there are limits to what NCRA can do in this area.
NCRA does not:
- Enforce any state’s laws or rules. That is up to the individual state. However, NCRA can and does advocate for new laws at the state and federal levels.
- Have a category of membership for firm owners. If an individual NCRA member is a firm owner and NCRA should find that the individual firm owner is engaged in activity that violates the NCRA Code of Professional Ethics, NCRA could take disciplinary steps, including revocation of NCRA membership. It is important to realize, however, that this may not stop or alter the firm or firm owner’s behavior.
- Create ethical guidelines that supersede any state or local laws.
- Have an investigatory arm. NCRA’s Committee on Professional Ethics studies facts as presented and reaches a conclusion. NCRA’s Board of Directors acts as the final decision-maker where complaints are decided. Neither the Committee nor the Board represents the complainant nor the party complained against.
- Seek out potential ethics violations on its own initiative. NCRA responds to complaints from the public or other NCRA members. Someone needs to make a specific allegation that an NCRA member has violated the Code of Professional Ethics and present evidence in support of that allegation. Then the member who is the subject of the complaint has an opportunity to respond to the evidence, rebut the evidence presented, and offer evidence supporting his or her position. Only after both sides are given an opportunity to respond does NCRA reach a decision.
- Impose monetary fines.
- Create ethics guidelines that can in any way be construed as unreasonably restraining trade or otherwise violating the federal antitrust laws.