ICMA / About / Overview / What We Do

What We Do

ICMA creates excellence in local governance by developing and fostering professional local government management worldwide. The organization provides technical and management assistance, training, and information resources in the areas of performance measurement, ethics education and training, community and economic development, environmental management, technology, and other topics to its members and the broader local government community.

The leadership and management decisions made by ICMA's over 10,000 members affect tens of millions of individuals in thousands of communities, from small towns with populations of a few hundred to metropolitan areas serving several million. 

Core Activities


ICMA advances good governance by supporting communities that understand the value of professional local government management and promoting that value to communities that operate under other structures.  The organization also represents local government concerns in the public policy arena on topics such as telecommunications, public safety and emergency management, planning and community development, administration and finance, human services, and public works.  ICMA regularly convenes and facilitates gatherings of local government management professionals to consider and respond to emerging issues.

Annual Conference

Since 1914, ICMA has sponsored an annual conference that enables local government managers and their staffs to network, discuss key management issues, review major local government developments, adopt policy statements, and conduct association business. Conference keynote addresses, educational sessions, workshops, and field demonstrations provide attendees with an unparalleled opportunity for acquiring new tools and techniques to address the problems facing communities and local government administrators today. ICMA’s Annual Conference typically attracts 3,500 to 4,000 local government professionals from cities throughout the world. 

Ethics Education and Training

Equity, transparency, honor, integrity, commitment, and stewardship are standards for excellence in democratic local governance.  ICMA promotes such ethical conduct through its Code of Ethics, training for local governments, publications on ethics issues, technical assistance, and advice to members.  Additionally, the organization’s members adhere to the principles of the ICMA Code of Ethics as a condition of membership and agree to submit to a peer-to-peer review of their conduct under established enforcement procedures.

Survey Research

Through its survey research, ICMA has gathered more data on local government than any organization except the federal government. ICMA’s survey topics include contracting for service delivery, economic development, technology, labor-management relations, and e-government. Longitudinal data are available from surveys that are conducted on a regular schedule. ICMA’s database of local governments includes all cities, towns, townships, villages, and boroughs with a population of 2,500 or greater and all counties.

ICMA Press

ICMA Press is the leading publisher of textbooks, practitioner books, reports, survey research, training materials, and other resources used by local government management professionals, municipal and county associations, and colleges and universities. Areas of practice featured in ICMA publications include planning, finance, budgeting, economic development, human resource management, supervision, fire and rescue services, emergency management, and many others.

ICMA University

ICMA fulfills its commitment to continuing education and lifelong learning by offering conferences, workshops, and other opportunities through the ICMA University.  These offerings focus on improving the skills of local government senior executives and their staffs in such areas of local government management as leadership, performance measurement, planning, finance, community decision-making, information technology, indoor air quality, land use controls, solid waste management, and vacant properties. ICMA has offered webinars on e-government, emotional intelligence, GIS and emergency response, and water security.

ICMA’s conferences, workshops, and webinars present attendees with opportunities to acquire new tools and techniques to address the problems facing communities and local government managers.

ICMA Program Centers

ICMA Program Centers helps strengthen communities by fostering peer collaboration, collecting and analyzing data, disseminating information, and providing direct technical assistance. The Program Centers team brings an interdisciplinary approach to creating practical solutions to community challenges and emphasizes performance and sustainability in its products and services. Specific areas of expertise include brownfields redevelopment, energy and the environment, livable communities, military communities and base reuse, performance measurement and management, and public safety and homeland security.

ICMA International

ICMA International consults, trains, and collaborates with leaders from around the world to implement sound, innovative management and leadership practices in local governments, national ministries, academia, nongovernmental organizations and civil society groups in developing and decentralizing countries.  Since its inception in 1989, ICMA International has completed more than 500 projects in support of excellence in local governance in nearly 60 countries, which has resulted in increased institutional capacity, more effective and efficient service delivery, and greater citizen participation in the work of government.  ICMA International’s expertise is informed by and adapted to local conditions and circumstances through collaboration with local partners, resulting in appropriate, sustainable solutions.   

ICMA International is committed to peer exchanges and partnerships that encourage sharing and replication of leading practices in the local government sector and to hands-on, practical training. 

To support its work, ICMA International has established ICMA México-Latinoamérica in Guadalajara and the ICMA China Center in Beijing in partnership with the China University of Political Science and Law and maintains a long-term presence in South Asia through its relationship with the Urban Management Centre in Ahmedabad, India.  ICMA members and their staff are also an important contributor to the work of ICMA International. 

International city/County Management Association

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