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

2014 Year in Review and What’s Next for OGE
January 2, 2015

by Walter M. Shaub, Jr. 

January is a time for reflection and a time to set goals for the New Year. Last year, I asked my staff to focus on the basics-to look at the way OGE did its work and to find better ways to carry out that work. In 2014, OGE targeted three areas: (1) direct support of agency ethics officials, (2) oversight, and (3) communications. In this Note, I want to share with you just a few highlights from 2014 and give you preview of OGE's work in 2015.

Supporting agency ethics programs

OGE supports more than 5,000 ethics officials spread across more than 130 agencies through its desk officer program. OGE desk officers support their colleagues throughout the executive branch by answering ethics questions and consulting on program management challenges.

When OGE surveyed senior ethics officials about the desk officer program, 94% of respondents agreed that desk officers help them perform their job and 93% of respondents agreed that desk officers are responsive to their requests for assistance.

The strength of the relationship between desk officers and agency ethics officials is critical to the success of the executive branch ethics program. In addition to day-to-day support, desk officers also visit agency programs. In 2014, OGE desk officers visited more than 1/3 of agencies.

Overseeing agency ethics programs

OGE also oversees the executive branch ethics program through its program review function. In 2014 OGE prioritized reviewing more programs more often. To achieve this goal OGE created and implemented a new program review methodology: the "Inspection."  You can learn more about this exciting development in program oversight here.

Communication

In 2014, OGE continued to emphasize the importance of communication with the federal ethics community, the public, and other stakeholders. In an interview with Federal News Radio, I mentioned that OGE is committed to providing information and gaining feedback through social media, blogs, a listserv, and quarterly meetings with agency ethics officials.

This past year OGE also held its first National Government Ethics Summit.  The Summit brought together ethics officials and other stakeholders to deepen knowledge, share lessons learned, and discuss various viewpoints. And what a success it was!

Looking ahead

What can you expect from OGE in 2015? OGE will continue its "meat and potatoes" work of providing support to ethics officials, overseeing agency ethics programs, reviewing financial disclosures of incoming senior government leaders, and providing ethics education for ethics officials.

New in 2015, OGE will launch Integrity, an executive branch wide electronic financial disclosure system. OGE will also develop training products that ethics officials can incorporate directly into their ethics program. In addition, OGE will continue its work in modernizing the Standards of Conduct, especially those rules related to the acceptance of gifts and seeking employment.

Look for more information on how OGE is carefully using taxpayer dollars to successfully meet its mission in OGE's Annual Performance Report and Annual Performance Plan, which OGE will publish in February.

Happy New Year!