21 September 2011 

The Office of Government Ethics is the United States agency responsible for setting and monitoring standards across the Federal civil service.  It uses a tagline of  “preventing conflicts of interest in the Executive Branch”. Its jurisdiction covers more than 4 million officials in 130 agencies. OGE has always had extensive and expansive material on its website, but last week refreshed  the site, improving accessibility and encouraging greater reference to its guidance.  Much of the material has direct relevance to New Zealand agencies seeking to promote integrity.  

The refreshed website was launched in conjunction with the OGE biennial conference.  In another move to promote access and the reuse of ethics resources, the OGE conference, attended by approximately 600 delegates, published proceedings on a dedicated conference website.  There are almost 100  links from the site to presentations and relevant guidance, which in turn contain many more links to useful material. There are the inevitable You Tube clips of conference activities. The intention is that the conference website remains “live”.   

The IEC Journal reports on the conference as having… “excellent overall organization, with many thoughtful touches to enhance the learning experience. OGE deserves credit for being willing to experiment with something as innovative as the smartphone app, though there were a few glitches. Some felt that the related website was a less than optimal solution for those without smartphones, while not everyone with a smartphone was enamoured with the app.”  

“There are a lot of smart people throughout the government doing a lot of smart things. The conference provides a great start on improving efficiency through inter-agency sharing, but resource limitations and institutional constraints put a limit on what OGE can do. There is more that the IEC, and this website in particular could do to fill the gaps.”