Designation of Senior Employees Subject to Post-Employment Restrictions Under the Ethics in Government Act

GGD-84-62: Published: Apr 26, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the administration of the section of the Ethics in Government Act which concerns the annual designation of senior Federal employees who are restricted from certain types of activities once they leave Federal employment. GAO reviewed the legislation to determine whether it could be streamlined.

The act prohibits former senior employees from: (1) representing anyone at a proceeding which involves a matter which the employee handled while a Federal employee for a period of 2 years; or (2) influencing his former agency on behalf of anyone on any matter whatsoever for 1 year. Agency directors have the discretion to designate the former employees who had significant decisionmaking or supervisory responsibility for which the act would apply. GAO found that, although this discretion may have resulted in some inconsistencies, the present process conforms to the intent of the legislation. Because agencies have different missions, structures, and traditions, they vary in how they delegate authority. Therefore, GAO did not feel that more precise criteria could be developed which would be easily applicable Government-wide. Substantial resources were required to develop the first Government-wide list of designated positions. However, few resources are needed to maintain the list, except when there are major agency reorganizations. Therefore, GAO found it unlikely that major efficiencies could be realized by further streamlining this process. Regulatory designation of senior employee positions by levels or ranks would simplify the process; however, this alternative is contrary to the the prevailing concept that rank is not determined by or dependent on the position an individual holds.

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