Problems Found in the Financial Disclosure System for Department of Commerce Employees

FPCD-76-55: Published: Aug 10, 1976. Publicly Released: Aug 10, 1976.

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The special relationship between the Department of Commerce and the Nation's business community calls for unusual attention by Commerce in maintaining a financial disclosure system which will insure that employee financial holdings are effectively reviewed so that the employee, the agency, and the public are protected. Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of the financial disclosure system at Commerce, financial interests reported by its employees, and whether other Commerce officials should be filing financial disclosure statements.

The Department of Commerce's financial disclosure system had deficiencies that could have caused it to be ineffective in preventing possible appearances of conflict of interest. The GAO review disclosed that: employees did not file statements when required; some employees that are not required to file financial statements have responsibilities that warrant the filing of a statement; and Commerce had not developed adequate procedures for collecting, processing, controlling, and reviewing statements. In 1975, Commerce employees filed 3,200 financial disclosure statements. A review of 328 of these revealed that 86 employees held 139 interests that give the appearance of conflicting with their assigned duties and responsibilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: To improve effectiveness of the financial disclosure system, the Secretary of Commerce should: (1) review and take corrective action on questionable financial interests addressed in this report; (2) develop effective procedures for collecting, processing, and controlling statements; (3) develop criteria and systematic procedures for reviewing statements; (4) develop procedures to follow up promptly on financial interests questioned; (5) expand Commerce's comprehensive criteria for determining who should file; and (6) develop procedures to insure statements are filed by all employees who should file.

    Agency Affected:

 

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