« November 2013 | Main | January 2014 »

December 30, 2013

Acting DHS Inspector General Resigns

The Federal Times reports:  Charles Edwards, the embattled acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, has resigned, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Carlton Mann, chief operating officer for the IG’s office, has taken Edwards’ place, the spokesman, Bill Hillburg, said in a phone interview. Hillburg declined comment on the reason for Edwards’ resignation, effective Tuesday, or to say whether he is working elsewhere within the government. But the career federal employee has been under investigation for months by a Senate oversight subcommittee looking into allegations that he changed report findings in response to outside pressure, engaged in nepotism and other issues.

Edwards had been scheduled to testify at a Thursday hearing by the panel, which is part of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. A spokesman for the subcommitee’s chairwoman, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., did not return phone calls, but the hearing has been canceled, according to a notice posted Tuesday afternon on the committee’s website. Last month, both McCaskill and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, called on Edwards to step down. Edwards, who has declined interview requests, said in a statement this summer that he was confident the allegations against him would be found to be “completely without merit.”

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

December 27, 2013

Francis Charged in Navy Bribery Case

Defenseone.com reports: On the day of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, a team from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in San Diego was arresting Leonard Francis, the president of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Singapore-based defense company that’s been providing port services to the U.S. Navy in key areas in Asia for 25 years.

After a lengthy, highly secretive investigation, Francis was charged with in a massive bribery scandal that prosecutors say cost the Navy more than $20 million. Two Navy commanders were also arrested for taking bribes, two captains have been suspended, two admirals are under investigation -- and an NCIS agent was arrested on taking bribes in exchange for inside information on the investigation.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Contractors in the Workplace, Procurement | Permalink

Reminder! January IEC Meeting: WMACCA Government Contractors Forum

January 9, 2014: Please join us at a joint meeting of the Interagency Ethics Council and the Government Contractor’s Forum of WMACCA for an afternoon of benchmarking and networking.

The event is titled: WMACCA Government Contractors Forum and the Interagency Ethics Council: “I’ve looked at ethics from both sides now.” We will be comparing best practices (and maybe some that aren’t so good) regarding post-government employment restrictions, addressing difficult gift questions, achieving compliance by your employees, implementing an effective gift policy, and other wild ideas as they develop. Come and share your challenges, achievements, and bold ideas with senior ethics and compliance officials from government and industry. (Bring your own lunch if you want one. This is a brownbag event. WMACCA will provide coffee, sodas, and light refreshments).

We seek IEC member registration in advance at: http://www.cvent.com/d/44qlzz/1Q to ensure a name badge will be ready for members when they arrive.

Networking reception: 11:30-12:00

Program: 12:00 – 2:00 (In person only. No on-line presentation).

WMACCA will apply for 2.0 hours of Virginia MCLE credit.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in IEC Meetings | Permalink

December 20, 2013

In probe of Va. Gov. McDonnell, prosecutors agreed to delay decision on charges

Federal prosecutors told Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell last week that he and his wife would be charged in connection with a gift scandal, but senior Justice Department officials delayed the decision after the McDonnells’ attorneys made a face-to-face appeal in Washington, according to people familiar with the case.

Dana J. Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told the McDonnells’ legal teams that he planned to ask a grand jury to return an indictment no later than this past Monday, people familiar with the conversations said.

McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, would have been charged with working together to illegally promote a struggling dietary-supplement company in exchange for gifts and loans from its chief executive, the people said.

The plan to seek the felony charges this week changed, however, after attorneys for the state’s first couple met with Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole on Dec. 12. The attorneys argued that the governor had done nothing improper to assist businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. In particular, they focused on the credibility of a key witness, said a person familiar with the presentation. They also argued that if prosecutors proceeded with charges, they should wait until after McDonnell left office Jan. 11 to allow a smooth transition of power to Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D).

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Gifts, Issues: Misuse of Position | Permalink

December 19, 2013

EPA official, who pretended to work for CIA, sentenced to 32 months

The Washington Post reports:  A former high-level official at the Environmental Protection Agency, who pretended to work for the CIA to avoid the office, said he was motivated by a sense of excitement and the rush of getting away with something.

John C. Beale, a former EPA senior policy advisor, explained his motivations for the first time in a federal courtroom Wednesday before he was sentenced to more than 2 ½ years in prison for stealing nearly $900,000 in taxpayer funds.

U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle said Beale’s deception had “made a mockery of working for the federal government.”

Beale, 65, admitted in September that he had skipped out on work for years by telling a series of supervisors, including top officials in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, that he was doing top-secret work for the CIA. He was paid for a total of 2 ½ years of work he did not perform since early 2000 and received about $500,000 in bonuses he did not deserve, according to his plea agreement.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, Issues: Misuse of Position | Permalink

December 18, 2013

Nonprofit Pearson pays $7.7 million in Common Core settlement

Pearson Charitable Foundation, the nonprofit arm of educational publishing giant Pearson Inc., has agreed to pay a $7.7 million settlement to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman after he determined that the foundation had created Common Core products to generate “tens of millions of dollars” for its corporate sister.

“The law on this is clear: non-profit foundations cannot misuse charitable assets to benefit their affiliated for-profit corporations,” Schneiderman said in a statement Thursday. T

he investigation by the attorney general examined Pearson’s efforts since 2010 to develop a line of classroom materials and tests built around the Common Core, new K-12 academic standards in reading and math that have been fully adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Pearson, the largest educational publisher in the world, sells instructional content, tests, systems and technology for profit to states, school districts and individual schools in the United States and across the globe. The adoption of the Common Core has created a lucrative opportunity for educational publishers, as states and schools rush to buy products “aligned” to the new standards.

According to the settlement, Pearson used its nonprofit foundation to develop Common Core products in order to win an endorsement from a “prominent foundation.”

Posted by IEC Team Leader in News | Permalink

December 16, 2013

Gallup Poll: Lobbyists rank last on ethics

Politico reports:  Congress can take heart that Americans still view one profession as having lower honesty and ethical standards than theirs, according to a new poll: lobbyists. Just 6 percent of Americans say lobbyists have high or very high honesty and ethical standards, making it last on a list of 22 professions surveyed about in a Gallup poll released Monday.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Miscellaneous, News | Permalink

December 10, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Hill Staffers Receive Holiday Poem as a Reminder of the Gift Rules

Check out the poem at the following link

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Gifts | Permalink

December 09, 2013

Notice of Modification of Routine Uses (a.) and (l.) in OGE/GOVT–1 System of Records

The following notice in today's Federal Register:

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) proposes to modify existing routine uses (a.) and (l.) to OGE/GOVT–1, Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Reports and Other Name-Retrieved Ethics Program Records (OGE/GOVT–1 System of Records). This action is necessary to comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act to publish in the Federal Register notice of the existence and character of records maintained by the agency (5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4)).

Posted by IEC Team Leader in OGE | Permalink

December 04, 2013

SEC Delays Revolving Door Restriction

Months ago, over concern about regulators who leave government and then work their former colleagues on behalf of industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was tightening restrictions on the revolving door.  Specifically, the SEC decided to close a loophole in the ethics rules that allowed some “senior” SEC personnel to lobby the agency immediately after leaving instead of staying on the sidelines for a year or more, as employees at other federal agencies must do. 

However, a notice published in the November 25 edition of the Federal Register said that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was withdrawing the new rule at “the request of the SEC” so that the agency could have more time to “effectively educate affected employees before the exemption revocation takes effect.”

The rule, which was published as “final” on October 3, had been scheduled to take effect on January 2.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Revolving Door | Permalink

December 02, 2013

January IEC Meeting: WMACCA Government Contractors Forum

January 9, 2014:  Please join us at a joint meeting of the Interagency Ethics Council and the Government Contractor’s Forum of WMACCA for an afternoon of benchmarking and networking.

The event is titled:  WMACCA Government Contractors Forum and the Interagency Ethics Council: “I’ve looked at ethics from both sides now.”

We will be comparing best practices (and maybe some that aren’t so good) regarding post-government employment restrictions, addressing difficult gift questions, achieving compliance by your employees, implementing an effective gift policy, and other wild ideas as they develop.

Come and share your challenges, achievements, and bold ideas with senior ethics and compliance officials from government and industry. (Bring your own lunch if you want one. This is a brownbag event. WMACCA will provide coffee, sodas, and light refreshments).

We seek IEC member registration in advance at: http://www.cvent.com/d/44qlzz/1Q  to ensure a name badge will be ready for members when they arrive.  

Networking reception: 11:30-12:00

Program: 12:00 – 2:00 (In person only. No on-line presentation).

WMACCA will apply for 2.0 hours of Virginia MCLE credit.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in IEC Meetings | Permalink