Ethics:

The Department of Justice's Ethics Program

GGD-88-112BR: Published: Jul 19, 1988. Publicly Released: Aug 23, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Ethics Program to determine whether the program complied with statutory requirements and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations.

GAO found that: (1) although the program generally complied with Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requirements, DOJ did not periodically evaluate it or provide training for all of its departments; (2) program implementation procedures varied because DOJ gave each department considerable discretion in administering the program; and (3) DOJ developed standards of conduct for current and former employees and disciplinary measures for unethical conduct. GAO also found that DOJ: (1) did not implement a requirement that it maintain status reports on all employees required to file public financial disclosure reports; (2) was the only agency that did not require its employees to file confidential financial reports because it believed that it lacked legal authority to require such reports; (3) seldom identified conflicts of interest requiring remedial actions from its reviews of disclosure statements; and (4) failed to require departmentwide ethics training for its employees.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice has taken the actions recommended completing an evaluation of its ethics program and hiring a management analyst to do evaluations in the future.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should periodically evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of the DOJ standards-of-conduct regulations, financial disclosure system, and postemployment enforcement system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As GAO recommended, Justice initiated an evaluation of its ethics program and standards-of-conduct regulations on October 7, 1988. In line with the recommendation, Justice also hired a management analyst to serve as a catalyst and resource for ethics training in Justice.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should evaluate, in cooperation with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the ethics education program to improve the training DOJ employees receive in ethics and standards-of-conduct matters, including postemployment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice agreed to review its policy on referral opinions to OGE with a view toward identifying the types of opinions that it should and should not refer. GAO does not anticipate any further action by Justice to refer opinions to OGE because of a reluctance by Justice and OGE to publicize opinions.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require DOJ components to provide copies of written opinions on ethics matters to OGE in accordance with OPM regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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