United States Office of Government Ethics

Last updated on 8 August 2017

The United States Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is an independent agency within the executive branch of the U.S. Federal Government which is responsible for directing executive branch policies relating to the prevention of conflict of interest on the part of Federal executive branch officers and employees. Its primary duties include:

  • Establishing the standards of conduct for the executive branch;
  • Issuing rules and regulations interpreting the criminal conflict of interest restrictions;
  • Establishing the framework for the public and confidential financial disclosure systems for executive branch employees;
  • Developing training and education programs for use by executive branch ethics officials and employees;
  • Ensuring that individual agency ethics programs are functioning properly by setting the requirements for them, supporting them, and reviewing them.

The Director of OGE is appointed by the President after confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The Director of OGE serves a five-year term, thereby overlapping presidential terms, and is subject to no term limit. The rest of the OGE employees are career civil servants. Created by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, OGE separated from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 1989 pursuant to reform legislation.[1]

The acting Director of OGE is currently David J. Apol, formerly the general counsel of the OGE.[2] He replaced Walter Shaub, who was appointed by President Obama in 2013, and resigned on July 19, 2017.[3].

Trump conflicts of interest

A series of tweets on 30 November 2016 from the office's official Twitter account praised President-elect Donald Trump for planning to divest his business holdings in order to resolve potential conflicts of interest, following an announcement where Trump reaffirmed his intent to take himself out of business operations, despite him having made no firm commitment to a divestment like selling his businesses or a blind trust. A number of observers speculated that the office's account might have been hacked, a suggestion it later denied.[4] The New York Times suggested that the apparent misunderstanding behind the postings were deliberately intended to reveal the independent agency had advised Trump's legal counsel that a divestment was the only adequate remedy for resolving any conflict, and, by extension, pressure Trump into doing so.[5] A Freedom of Information Act request by news organization The Daily Dot revealed that OGE Director Walter M. Shaub personally ordered officials within the agency to post the 9 tweets.[6]

OGE Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance Form

On May 11th, 2017, the Office of Government Ethics requested the Trump administration and its associates submit a form regarding divestment of assets and possible conflicts of interest.[7]

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