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May 29, 2014

Reminder: Next IEC Meeting June 5: Partnership-Lite: Part Two of a Three Session Series on the Executive-wide Push to "Partner"

Does your agency have explicit statutory authority to partner with non-federal entities? Does your agency have explicit authority to accept gifts in support of its mission?

No?! But perhaps lately you’ve heard the following phrases and wondered whether you, as an ethics official, need to care: "aligned funding," " leveraging federal dollars," "community engagement," "stakeholder buy-in," or "public-private cross-collaboration." You are not alone! In this fiscal climate, federal agencies are getting more creative. We recognize that policy decisions on partnership efforts are most appropriate for management, but the line between policy and legal authorities can be a fine one. Although the ethics community typically focuses on legal advice geared towards individual federal employees, what about the grayer areas of organizational conflicts of interest and endorsement or appearance of favoritism concerns at the agency level? When do agency efforts to be transparent and cooperative with partners become problematic for folks in OGC?

Come to IEC on June 5th and hear Susan Winchell, DAEO for the Department of Education, and Cheryl Embree, Deputy Ethics Official for the Federal Trade Commission (formerly with HUD), share their perspectives on various recent "partnerships" and when ethics lawyers needs to get involved. This IEC presentation will be loosely based on a similar talk given at the White House in summer 2013 called, “Best Practices and Considerations for Public-Private Partnerships,” which was organized by the National Security Staff for government partnership practitioners across the Executive branch.

Meeting time and location: U.S. Access Board, 1331 F Street, NW, Floor 8, 12:15.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in IEC Meetings | Permalink

May 21, 2014

OGE Amendatory Rulemaking: Increased Gifts & Travel Reimbursements Reporting Thresholds as well as the Nonsponsor Widely Attended Gatherings Gift Exception Ceiling

The Office of Government Ethics has issued a final rule that amends the executive branch financial disclosure and standards of ethical conduct regulations. See 79 FR 28605-28606 (May 19, 2014) http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-05-19/pdf/2014-11495.pdf. First, OGE has revised the executive branch financial disclosure regulation to reflect the statutory retroactive increase, applicable as of January 1, 2014, of the thresholds for reporting of gifts and travel reimbursements for both the public and confidential financial disclosure reports (OGE Form 278s and OGE Form 450s). The Ethics in Government Act and OGE regulations tie these increases to the General Services Administration’s recent increase in minimal value for purposes of the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act notice in April of this year. See 79 FR 18477 (April 2, 2014). The new aggregation threshold for the reporting of gifts and reimbursements received from any one source on financial disclosure reports is “more than $375”; items worth “$150 or less” do not need to be counted towards that overall threshold.

The second part of OGE’s new rule has raised to $375 the maximum amount under the exception in the standards of conduct for nonsponsor gifts of free attendance at widely attended gatherings. This separate regulatory change became effective upon publication of the rulemaking document (May 19, 2014).

Posted by IEC Team Leader in OGE | Permalink

May 20, 2014

Former Va. Governor, Wife's Request for Separate Trials Denied in Corruption Case

A judge ruled Tuesday that the federal corruption charges against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will not be dismissed. The McDonnells' request for separate trials was also denied.

U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer heard arguments Monday in Richmond from attorneys for McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

The McDonnells had sought the dismissal of most of the corruption charges filed against them, as well as separate trials. A court order released Tuesday says that defendants who are indicted together should be tried together, unless a joint trial "would be so unfairly prejudicial that a miscarriage of justice would result."

The Republican and his wife are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc. In exchange, they would help promote his products, according to prosecutors.

Their defense lawyers, as well as five former state attorneys general, have argued that the federal government is trying to criminalize politics by pursing its case against the former governor.

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

May 16, 2014

Vacancy at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, Headquarters Office, is seeking a full time candidate to fill the challenging and dynamic position of Managing Director of Ethics, GS-0301-15. The Managing Director for Ethics serves as the primary advisor to the Chief Operating Officer (COO), as well as the Deputy Chief Operating Officer (DCOO), in addition to providing expert and strategic advice on handling sensitive issues, develops ethical policies, makes decisions based on detailed analysis, and manages and directs a compressive ethical program at the FDA.

Individuals interested in applying should visit the vacancy posting at:

 https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/PrintPreview/369938900

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Help Wanted | Permalink

May 13, 2014

GS-15 Opening at Office of the Secretary of the Army

The job link may be found here

 https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/369195000

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Help Wanted | Permalink

Next IEC Meeting, June 5: Partnership-Lite: Part Two of a Three Session Series on the Executive-wide Push to "Partner"

Does your agency have explicit statutory authority to partner with non-federal entities?

Does your agency have explicit authority to accept gifts in support of its mission?

No?! But perhaps lately you’ve heard the following phrases and wondered whether you, as an ethics official, need to care: "aligned funding," " leveraging federal dollars," "community engagement," "stakeholder buy-in," or "public-private cross-collaboration." You are not alone! In this fiscal climate, federal agencies are getting more creative. We recognize that policy decisions on partnership efforts are most appropriate for management, but the line between policy and legal authorities can be a fine one. Although the ethics community typically focuses on legal advice geared towards individual federal employees, what about the grayer areas of organizational conflicts of interest and endorsement or appearance of favoritism concerns at the agency level? When do agency efforts to be transparent and cooperative with partners become problematic for folks in OGC?

Come to IEC on June 5th and hear Susan Winchell, DAEO for the Department of Education, and Cheryl Embree, Deputy Ethics Official for the Federal Trade Commission (formerly with HUD), share their perspectives on various recent "partnerships" and when ethics lawyers needs to get involved. This IEC presentation will be loosely based on a similar talk given at the White House in summer 2013 called, “Best Practices and Considerations for Public-Private Partnerships,” which was organized by the National Security Staff for government partnership practitioners across the Executive branch.

Meeting time and location:  U.S. Access Board, 1331 F Street, NW, Floor 8, 12:15. 

Posted by IEC Team Leader in IEC Meetings | Permalink

May 09, 2014

Gifts from the White House Press Correspondents Dinner

The Washington Post gave us a peek into the gift bags attendees at the 2014 White House Press Correspondents Dinner received- reported here.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Gifts | Permalink

May 06, 2014

GS-15 Opening at U.S. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of General Counsel is seeking a candidate with demonstrated experience in leading and working with other attorneys in providing legal advice and guidance in the areas of ethics and permissible political activities under the Hatch Act for a GS-15 nonsupervisory attorney position in Washington, DC. Working closely with the Designated Agency Ethics Official and Alternate Agency Ethics Official, the candidate for this position will participate with the highest officials of the Department in the resolution of problems by proving legal advice, conducting research, providing recommendations to attorneys and/or the General Counsel, and representing the Department in conferences.

Individuals interested in applying should visit the vacancy posting at:

 https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/368744200

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Help Wanted | Permalink