United States Office of Government Ethics, Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch

The National Government Ethics Summit Begins
September 12, 2014

by Walter M. Shaub, Jr.

On Tuesday, we convened the first of three plenary Forum Days at the Natcher Center on the grounds of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. More than 400 members of the government ethics community registered to participate in person. Another 1,300 unique viewers also watched our live streaming video broadcast of many of the day’s sessions.

Participants enjoyed a range of presentations. NIH Principal Deputy Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak got us started with his opening remarks. Speaking from the main auditorium, OGE staff highlighted recent developments in government ethics. Keynote speaker Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service challenged federal leaders to focus on organizational culture in order to tap into the full potential of the government’s greatest resource: its employees. Professor David Zaring of the Wharton School and Michael Smallberg of the Project on Government Oversight discussed their differing and thought-provoking views on the “revolving door.” Throughout the day, OGE staff, agency ethics officials, and Inspector General personnel also met in breakout sessions to share their expertise and learn from one another.

On Wednesday, the Summit continued with a large agency invitational day. Ethics officials from large agencies convened to address issues of specific interest to large agencies. Participants focused on substantive legal issues and best practices for running large agency ethics programs. OGE’s Presidential Nominations Branch joined Robert Rizzi of Steptoe & Johnson, LLP to deliver training on the disclosure of complex investment funds and executive compensation arrangements under the Ethics in Government Act. Arthur Goldberg, Assistant Director of the Department of Justice’s Federal Programs Branch, also gave participants a rare look into the world of civil penalty enforcement of the Ethics in Government Act.

On Thursday, we held the first two of the Summit’s “virtual-only” events. OGE staff presented the first and second parts of a two-hour introductory course on the primary criminal conflicts of interest statute applicable to the executive branch. These sessions primarily served the needs of new ethics officials, who benefited from receiving basic training in the fundamentals of government ethics. Over 400 viewers watched these virtual-only presentations.

Feedback from in-person and virtual participants has been very positive. We are looking forward to the rest of this month’s Summit events, as we continue to deliver, at a low cost, the highest quality training to this government ethics community.

Check out the Summit agenda so you can join the conversation.

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