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Keeping Public Financial Disclosure Serving its Purpose: Identifying and Preventing Conflicts of Interest

May 15, 2023

Emory Rounds, Director

Across 130+ executive branch agencies, more than 25,000 public financial disclosure reports are due to be filed today by senior government leaders. These forms will then be reviewed for conflicts of interest and certified by ethics officials throughout the government. 

This important process was established 45 years ago by the Ethics in Government Act. Ever since, OGE has worked to make sure public financial disclosure keeps pace with financial innovation and technological changes. OGE accomplishes this through implementing regulations, guidance, training, an electronic filing system, and agency oversight.

OGE maintains financial disclosure regulations and issues periodic written guidance on financial disclosure to keep pace with new financial instruments, such as cryptocurrency and other digital assets. OGE also issues guidance reminding ethics officials and filers of deadlines, processes, and procedures for implementing the program.

OGE also offers lots of educational resources for both financial disclosure filers and the ethics officials who review and certify the financial disclosure reports. OGE offers on-demand guidance for reporting, and opportunities for reviewers to practice conducting reviews, and for ethics officials to talk through program challenges.

OGE ensures the information collected in disclosures is consistent by using the OGE form 278e for all reports. OGE also provides filers, reviewers, and certifiers with free access to a 21st century electronic filing system, Integrity. This web-based, electronic system leads to more accurate filing, improves review, and ensures continuity of disclosures, as it did during the pandemic. 

Beyond the rules, guidance, forms, and filing system, OGE has an important oversight role that it implements through its agency ethics program reviews and inspections. During these reviews, OGE ensures that agencies are collecting and reviewing reports timely, maintaining appropriate standard operating procedures, and generally running an effective financial disclosure program.

OGE undertakes all of these efforts to keep the public financial disclosure system serving its purpose:  identifying and preventing financial conflicts of interest for senior government leaders serving the public in the executive branch.