January 09, 2013
President Obama Appoints Walter M. Shaub, Jr., as New OGE Director
Announcement from the Office of Government Ethics today:
On January 8, 2013, President Obama appointed Mr. Walter M. Shaub, Jr., as Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE). He was sworn into office January 9, 2013.
Prior to his appointment, Mr. Shaub was Deputy General Counsel of OGE, a position he held since 2008. In addition, he served as a supervisory attorney at OGE from 2006 to 2008. From 2004 to 2006, he worked as an attorney with the law firm Shaw, Bransford, Veilleux and Roth, P.C., where he focused on federal employment law. Previously, Mr. Shaub served as a staff attorney at several federal agencies, including OGE from 2001 to 2004, the Central Office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from 2000 to 2001, the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1998 to 2000, and the VA’s Baltimore-Washington Regional Counsel’s office from 1997 to 1998. He earned a B.A. in History from James Madison University and a J.D. from American University Washington College of Law.
April 25, 2011
Does delay in judicial nominations increase backlog of cases for vets?
The Washington Post article discusses the backlog of cases at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, in part due to the lack of nominations from the White House. See full article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/veterans-court-faces-backlog-that-continues-to-grow/2011/04/15/AFFaavRE_story.html
December 20, 2010
Senate Armed Services Divestiture Requirement
A Washington Post article that discusses the Senate Armed Services requirement that its staff and DoD Presidential appointees divest and avoid investing in any DoD contractors for the duration of their appointments--regardless of the financial loss to the individual--a requirement they do not adhere to themselves. Read the full article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/18/AR2010121802499_pf.html
April 29, 2009
Say It Ain't So, Al!
In this morning's Washington Post In the Loop column Al Kamen refers to "the 1978 amendments to the Ethics in Government Act that created the time-consuming, redundant financial disclosure process" as a factor in the deplorably slow rate of Presidential appointee confirmations.
March 23, 2009
Washington Post has an online page dedicated to progress of President Obama's nominations. See http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2009/federal-appointments/
January 16, 2009
Richardson Nomination Highlights Vetting Difficulty
Professor Paul Light, an occasional contributor to the Washington Post, on issues during the Presidential transition, highlights the now-withdrawn nomination of Bill Richardson to be Commerce Secretary as an example of the difficulty in vetting nominees to high positions. He calls for increased civil service employees in the vetting process:
Vetters must pore over the information, reading and cross-checking reams of data. This is no small task, especially amid the pressure to fill jobs quickly. The Obama team has set its heart on breaking the record for filling top jobs in the shortest time, but now it has been reminded that speed is often the enemy of thoroughness.
The number of senior-level political jobs has expanded by a fifth since 2001, and as Obama rightly works on rebuilding the civil service ranks at the lower levels of government, he should consider expanding his own personnel process to handle the load.
December 18, 2008
Bush Clears Out Political Appointees
A National Journal Online blog post states:
President Bush is helping clear the decks for President-elect Barack Obama by asking his political appointees to submit their resignations effective Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, according to a memo dated Dec. 1 and obtained by National Journal. White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten instructed Cabinet secretaries and heads of departments to collect resignation letters from political appointees, with the goal of providing the incoming president "maximum flexibility in assembling his administration."
Bolten said Bush's directions are "consistent with past practice," which is correct: Then-Chief of Staff John Podesta, acting on behalf of President Clinton, sent a similar memo to government leaders in November 2000, and previous presidents have taken similar steps.
The exceptions to Bush's order are federal inspectors general and "those individuals who hold termed positions," Bolten said. "Non-career Senior Executive Service and Schedule C appointees at independent and regulatory agencies headed by termed appointees" are also exceptions to the resignation order.
Thanks to Gov Exec's Fedblog for the tip.
December 11, 2008
Action Against Burrowing In?
Steven L. Katz, former chief counsel to the chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, makes the case in a Government Executive opinion piece for more aggressive measures to prevent political appointees from transitioning into civil service jobs ("burrowing in"):
[OMB Deputy Director Clay Johnson] is likely the only person close enough to the president who is personally committed to leading a respectable transition effort by the Bush administration and who has a big enough presence to step up against burrowers. Burrowing is Washington inside baseball, and Johnson does his best when others are reluctant to take on challenges that are obvious to everyone. Let's see him swing one more time.
December 09, 2008
Intense Vetting of Potential Obama Appointees
A Washington Post article describes vetting procedures used to clear prospective Obama administration appointees. Here's an excerpt:
Obama is conducting the vetting process much the way he managed his campaign: methodically, thoroughly and on a prodigious scale. He did not wait until he won the election to vet his favored picks. Soon after he clinched the Democratic nomination, lawyers quietly prepared dossiers of about 150 contenders for senior positions -- often without the candidates themselves knowing -- said a senior Obama transition adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Now Obama is asking contenders to complete a far-reaching questionnaire and furnish detailed personal and financial records dating back a decade.
"Now you're going to the next level and really trying to understand if there are any potential issues in nominating and confirming this person for the job," the adviser said. "The real purpose of vetting is to understand the person's ability to perform the job and be confirmed for the position. We also want to avoid surprises."
The vetting process extends beyond a 63-item questionnaire Obama is requiring of top candidates. For the roughly 800 executive posts that require Senate confirmation, nominees must undergo an FBI background check and file records with the Office of Government Ethics.
November 28, 2008
The Government Domain: Tracking the Transition
LLRX.com has an article with advice on resources for tracking developments in the Presidential transition.
November 11, 2008
Paul Light Disses Civil Service
NYU professor and frequent TV talking head Paul Light has been writing an occasional column for the Washington Post about the Presidential transition. In the most recent installment, Less Room for Breakthrough Ideas, one of the constraints on innovation he cited was not exactly respectful toward civil servants:
October 21, 2008
Executive Order to Smooth Transition
President Bush has signed an Executive Order intended to smooth the transition for the next Administration. The order, signed last Thursday, establishes a Presidential Transition Coordinating Council, which is charged with assisting the major party candidates and the President-elect by making "every reasonable effort to facilitate the transition between administrations." Under the Executive Order, the Council is to "provide appropriate information and assistance to the major party candidates on an equal basis and without regard to party affiliation."
The Executive Order provides for the President's Chief of Staff, Josh Bolten, to serve as Council Chair. The Council also will include the Counsel to the President, the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, and a number of others.
Read the Executive Order, titled "Facilitation of a Presidential Transition."
October 06, 2008
Seven Tips for Surviving the Transition
While not expressly focusing on standards of conduct issues, many of the tips in this Government Executive article are relevant to ethics officers.
August 18, 2008
DOI Ten Point Ethics Plan
August 04, 2008
Code of Conduct for Transitions
Here is a copy of a Transition Code of Conduct used in the 2000 Presidential transition.
June 11, 2008
The upcoming change of administrations is one of OGE Director Ric Cusick's top priorities, and deservedly so. It's an opportunity for ethics officers government-wide to help their agencies not just to avoid problems, but often make big improvements. We have created a new category, Issues:Transition, for helpful resources. You can access it by selecting the Issues:Transition link at left.
To get the ball rolling, here is an edited version of a memo an IG used successfully at one agency to alert the incoming political appointee agency head of various issues, including standards of conduct potential pitfalls. We welcome your contributions via the "Contact Us" link at left. If you don't have a formal memo, but just an idea or two, that's fine, just drop us an e-mail. Let us know if you prefer attribution or non-attribution.
June 04, 2008
GovExec Presidential Transition page
In this special section, Gov Exec presents regularly updated information and resources about transition-related activities. http://www.govexec.com/specialreports/transition.htm