Online Content of the Office of Government Ethics

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This wiki tracks the availability of public documents at the Office of Government Ethics.

Contents

Overview

The only disclosure forms the Office of Government Ethics receives and stores are those from federal employees who are presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed. Directors of specific divisions and agencies are not handled by OGE, if these people are required to file by law.


There are no personal disclosure records available online without specific request through an OGE Form 201.


Interested individuals may fill out an OGE Form 201 in order to access specific copies of OGE Form 278/SF 278s or other covered records. Form 201 is a streamlined information request form, that, according to representatives at the OGE, should receive a response within 48 hours. See "Filings/Documents That Are Available Individually Through OGE Form 201 Requests" for more specific information about what kinds of documents can be accessed with this request form.


Note: While many "forms" exist on USOGE.gov for agencies or individuals in government to complete and submit the the OGE, these are different from "completed records," which are here understood as archived copies of forms that agencies or individuals have completed.


Web Content Publication Schedule

The OGE's website features a "Web Content Publication Schedule" that follows Section 207(f)(2) of the E-Government Act of 2002 requiring federal agencies to "develop an inventory of information to be published on their websites, establish a schedule for publishing information, make those schedules available for public comment, and post the schedules and priorities on the website."


The following priority levels are posted:

Priority 1: Required by law, regulation, Presidential directive or other directive.
Priority 2: Time-sensitive information.
Priority 3: Information of interest to a broad spectrum of audiences.
Priority 4: Other information.

On this schedule is the following: "Ethics forms, publications and other ethics program administration documents, including disclosure forms, model trust documents." These records are given priority level 3. The publication date given is, "As available, unless otherwise required by law."


Completed Records Available Online at USOGE.gov

Executive Agency Ethics Pledge Waivers

Summary: Limited waivers from Designated Agency Ethics Officials (DAEOs) to the Ethics Pledge required by Executive Order 13490 of January 21, 2009. These waivers are related to business involving former employers of presidential appointees.

Report on Executive Order, 13490: Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnels

Summary: "This report provides information about the efforts of the U.S. Office of Government Ethicsto ensure that agency officials implemented the Ethics Pledge appropriately. The report also provides information on the number of appointees who entered government
service during the calendar year, those appointees required to sign the Ethics Pledge, the number and names of those who received waivers to any Ethics Pledge provisions, and where appropriate, recusals or ethics agreements for those appointees who were registered
lobbyists within the two years prior to their appointment."


Completed Records That Are Available Individually Through OGE Form 201 Requests

These documents are not available on a permanent, public databaes on the OGE website. However, an individual may fill out a OGE Form 201 (see Overview) and request access to specifically noted completed records in the following categories:

Public financial disclosure records
  • Only submitted by presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed executive branch employees.
    • The OGE has plans to release a database of these records, but there is no timeframe and no deadline. A new OGE website is set to launch in fall 2011, but the financial disclosure database will not necessarily be included in this new website at its launch.
      • The OGE stores financial disclosure records for six years, according to a representative at the OGE.
Copies of requests for certificate of divestiture
  • A request form that federal agencies may submit to the OGE for a certificate of divestiture. The agency must explain why the property is being divested and who owns the property.
Trust instrument records
  • From the Form 201: "Ethics Act qualified blind trust and qualified diversified trust instruments (other than those provisions which relate to the testamentary disposition of the trust assets), the list of assets transferred to such trusts (and of assets sold in the case of a qualified blind trust), as well as, in the case of trust dissolution, the report thereon and the list of trust assets at that time, and the certificates of independence and compliance with respect to qualified trusts."
Copies of waivers granted by the recipient agency
  • Waivers will only be releasted "after deletion of any material withholdable pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act."
Other OGE Form 201s
  • With a Form 201, an individual may request to see other Form 201s that have been used to request information.
Cover letters for approved gifts reporting waiver requests
Cover letters for approved public reporting waiver requests for certain less than 130-day special Government employees


Completed records with unclear status on if/how they are publicly accessible

These are completed records that cannot be accessed with a Form 201. It is unclear if a citizen could submit a FOIA request to access a specific completed record in these category. 


Conflict of interest referrals
  • Summary: When an agency notifies the Department of Justice that one of its employees has engaged in a conflict of interest, it must also notify the Office of Government Ethics. OGE Form 202 is the notification form that an agency would use to notify the OGE.
    • Notes:
      • Currently, it is unclear if the public has permanent mechanism of knowing what Form 202s are submitted by agencies. For example, if the Department of Agriculture submits a Form 202 to the OGE, notifying it that a conflict of interest has taken place on the part of a senior staff member, the OGE does not subsequently publish this notification form to the public.
      • The only related information to which the public has access is an annual survey of cases that were prosecuted by the DOJ for conflicts of interest is posted under "DAEOgrams" on the OGE's website. (http://www.usoge.gov/ethics_guidance/daeograms/10_daeograms.aspx)


1353 Travel Report (OGE Form 1353)
  • Summary: These are reports of payments/compensation that an employee received from a non-federal source, such as travel expenses to a conference.
    • Notes:
      • A representative from OGE has stated that 1353 Travel Reports are typically available via email as attachments, though currently it is unclear if this mechanism is advertised on the OGE's website.


Looking Ahead

The OGE has released a sneak peak of its new website in PDF format, which you can view here: http://www.usoge.gov/news/oge_web_preview.pdf.

The Open Government box on the right hand side of the box could bode well for transparency and availability of public information, depending on what information is included in it.


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