October 26, 2016
Executive branch employees are subject to a variety of ethics laws and regulations, which come with the potential for criminal, civil, and administrative penalties. At the heart of the ethics program is the principle that public service is a public trust. Government officials must put the public’s interests before their own interests.
This bedrock principle is an easy one to appreciate, but the complex ethics requirements that flow from it are not necessarily intuitive. They represent numerous policy choices by Congress, Presidents, and federal agencies over the years. Executive branch employees, especially the government’s most senior leaders, need to build a working knowledge of these requirements so they can spot potential ethics issues and seek help from their agency’s ethics officials when they need it. For this reason, ethics training is a critical function of the executive branch ethics program. The training that agency ethics officials provide gives employees the tools they need to perform the government’s work with integrity.
In support of this critical training function, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is releasing several new education products that agency ethics officials can tailor and use in their training presentations. These materials include five new training booklets, a collection of realistic scenarios presenting ethics issues in the ways that they typically arise in the federal workplace, and a video to help ethics officials understand how to facilitate group discussions of these scenarios in training sessions.
Several agencies have recently piloted the use of these materials in their training sessions, and the feedback from participants and instructors alike has been enthusiastic. The result has been an appreciable advancement in OGE’s ongoing goal of modernizing agency ethics training. To read more about these materials see OGE’s Program Advisory on their release.