March 11, 2014
Vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security
Immigration and Customs Enforcement seeks an ethics subject matter expert with strong interpersonal skills to serve as Deputy Chief Ethics Officer. For more information, please see the job posting here:
Job Openings: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
ETHICS ADVICE AND POLICY BRANCH Attorney Advisor GS 905 - 11/12/13/14 (Multiple Vacancies)
The Office of the General Counsel of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking to fill several advisory-attorney positions (GS 11/12/13/14) for its Ethics Division, which provides legal services involving federal criminal conflict of interest statutes, standards of ethical conduct regulations, financial disclosure requirements, procurement integrity provisions, lobbying rules, and Hatch Act political activity restrictions.
Ethics Division attorneys work closely with the White House Counsel’s Office and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) in clearing new Presidential appointees in the Senate confirmation process and also provide, in consultation with state bar authorities, guidance on legal ethics and professional responsibility issues. Although the positions will have generalist ethics responsibilities, depending upon staffing needs, the positions may be focused on providing these services to a principal client agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The duty station for the positions may be at the HHS headquarters in Washington, DC, or at an Ethics Division satellite office in Silver Spring, MD.
Candidates must have strong writing, oral, and analytical skills and be adept at working with and advising clients. Knowledge of federal or state government ethics law, professional responsibility rules, political activity restrictions, procurement integrity, or related subjects is preferred, but recent law graduates and other attorneys with a strong interest in the subject matter will be considered. Knowledge of food and drug law, or the legal framework for health and social services programs, will be considered a plus.
Salary currently ranges from $63,091 (Grade 11, Step 1) to $138,136, (Grade 14, Step 10), depending upon experience. This is an open continuous announcement. The first deadline for application packages will be April 10, 2014. Review of applications will begin after this date. All applications received on or before this date will receive first consideration. After this deadline, applications will be considered as needed on a rolling basis until the vacancies are filled.
To be considered, applicants must email to OGCEthicsVacancy@hhs.gov the following items: (1) a cover letter summarizing relevant experience; (2) a résumé; (3) a list of three references; (4) law school transcripts (required only if the applicant has graduated within the last five years); and (5) two writing samples.
Those individuals who are unable to submit materials electronically may send hard copies to Elizabeth J. Fischmann, Deputy Associate General Counsel, Attention: Linda Conte, Operations Specialist, HHS/OGC/Ethics Division, Room 710-E, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20201. These career positions are in the Excepted Service under a Schedule A appointment. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
If selected, an applicant must submit, prior to appointment, (1) an SF 85P, Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions; (2) a copy of the applicant’s state bar card or a certificate of good standing from all jurisdictions in which the applicant holds an active license to practice law; and (3) within thirty (30) days of entrance on duty, an OGE 450 Confidential Financial Disclosure Form. HHS is an equal opportunity employer and a smoke-free workplace.
March 05, 2014
Ethics Coordinator Opening at the Federal Reserve Board
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is seeking an energetic and organized individual with experience administering a federal ethics program to serve as the Board’s Ethics Coordinator. For more information, please see the job posting here:
February 27, 2014
Next IEC Meeting, March 6: Approaching the 2nd Anniversary of the STOCK Act
President Obama signed the STOCK Act into law on April 4, 2012. The provision requiring all public financial disclosures be posted on the internet in a searchable, sortable database was modified on April 15, 2013. In addition, the STOCK Act required e-filing, notification of negotiations for future employment and compensation, and imposed limits on federal employees’ ability to participate in IPOs.
Join us at the IEC meeting on Thursday, March 6th, starting at 12:15, to discuss these issues and to hear short presentations from the panel below:
Seth Jaffe, Chief, Ethics Law and Policy Branch, OGE
Chip Christopher, Chief, Agency Assistance Branch, OGE
Cheryl Embree, Attorney, Ethics and Appeals Division, HUD
Location: U.S. Access Board, 1331 F Street, 8th Floor, NW, Washington DC, 12:15 start time
February 21, 2014
IRS Senior Execs Took Improper Tax Deductions
Career senior executives at the Internal Revenue Service improperly claimed non-taxable revenue on travel expenses, despite receiving adequate instructions from the agency, according to a newly-released audit.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a report published Tuesday that some IRS executives were not properly classifying their travel as “long-term taxable travel,” or LTTT. When employees travel to a single location for more than one year, or perform their principal duties away from their “official station” for an indefinite amount of time, they are required to pay taxes on any travel-related reimbursements they receive.
To conduct the review, the IG’s office took a sample of 31 IRS senior executives who could have qualified for LTTT in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The auditors found nine managers -- or about 30 percent -- incorrectly reported their expenses as nontaxable, while three employees did not submit their records in a timely fashion. The average travel reimbursement for these employees was $51,420.
Despite providing guidance to its employees, the IRS must do a better job following up on documentation to ensure compliance, the IG’s office said. “The IRS has established adequate guidance defining when travel is taxable and employees’ and managers’ responsibility to make that determination,” the auditors wrote. “However, the guidance was not consistently followed.”
The IG recommended the IRS chief financial officer inform or remind employees of the policies related to LTTT. IRS officials agreed with the report’s findings and will implement the recommended changes.
February 19, 2014
Pentagon IG dings department historian for using ‘public office for private gain’
A recently released Pentagon inspector general’s report found that the department’s chief historian, Erin Mahan, “on occasion engaged in unprofessional conduct in the office” by “discussing personal medical issues. . . and speculating about an employee’s sexual orientation,” that “she directed two contract employees to plan, organize and execute” office social events and that she had those employees babysit when she brought her son to work and to “transport the child to and from daycare” — thus using her “public office for private gain.”
The IG also found that Mahan “improperly promised two subordinates” that each of them was in line to be the next deputy chief historian. In the report, Mahan dismissed the IG’s conclusions as based on “office gossip and uncorroborated hearsay.”
In response, the inspector general said that “we based our conclusions on the preponderance of the evidence” and “we stand by our conclusions.”
A Pentagon spokesman said last month that officials had taken unspecified “administrative action” in response to the report.
“I stand by my responses to the inspector general,” Mahan wrote. “There is no credence to any of the allegations except my momentary and isolated lapse of judgment early in my tenure of accepting help on four occasions from two contractor” historians for her “then pre-school-age son.”
Travel spending drops 18 percent in 2013
Federal travel spending fell 18 percent from fiscal 2012 to 2013 — from $8.5 billion to about $6.9 billion — and 2014 is shaping up to see even deeper cuts, according to federal data.
Travel spending in fiscal 2014 is already down about 33 percent from the same time last year at $890 million, compared to $1.3 billion, as measured by data from the General Services Administration’s SmartPay charge card program, which covers more than 2.5 million card holders across the government.
As examples of the cutbacks, GSA has canceled, for the second year, its annual Expo conference and has transitioned its SmartPay training forum into a virtual format, citing continued low levels of spending on travels and conferences.
Frank Benenati, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said part of the drop can be attributed to agencies rethinking how and where to have conferences and by using technology to reduce the need for travel. “Agencies will continue to identify savings moving forward, while balancing the need for conferences and travel,” Benenati said.
February 12, 2014
Pentagon Going Full-Speed Ahead to Improve Ethics
The two top Defense officials have made ethics reform a “No. 1 priority” across military services, lines and commands.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday that he would soon appoint a new Pentagon senior ethics officer to report directly to him because “an uncompromising culture of accountability must exist at every level of command.”
On Sunday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey promised a new campaign to restore ethics after some recent lapses—examples of which include recent news reports that Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile launch officers were arrested for narcotics possession in Montana and that Navy trainers were implicated for cheating on tests at the Navy Nuclear Propulsion School in Charleston, S.C.
“Competence and character are not mutually exclusive,” Hagel told reporters. “They are woven together – they must be.” Asked whether the apparent rise in ethical lapses was related to the past decade’s wartime pressures, Hagel said, “Was it a constant focus of 12 years on two long land wars, taking our emphasis off some of these other areas? I don't know. We intend to find out.”
February 11, 2014
Opinion from U.S. Office of Special Counsel: Hatch Act May Cover Personal Services Contractors
See the full advisory opinion here: Download Advisory Opinion re Personal Services Contractors
Opening at USTR
USTR has posted a vacancy announcement for USTR’s Chief Counsel for Administrative Law / Agency Ethics Official , a Senior Level (SL) position with a salary range of $120,749.00 to $167,000.00. Closing date: February 18, 2014 (11:59 pm EST)
Potential applicants who have status in the Federal government (i.e., most current Federal employees, former Federal employees who attained career status), should apply to vacancy announcement # USTR-14-02-KJ-MP at the following URL: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/360206700?share=email
Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who may be interested in applying for this position. If you have any questions, please call the USTR HR office at 202-395-7360. The former occupant of the position, Dave Apol, would also be happy to answer any questions you might have about the position (BTW he’ll tell you it’s a good one). He can be reached at 482- 9205.