Information on Selected Aspects of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978

FPCD-83-22: Published: Feb 23, 1983. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on selected aspects of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. GAO concentrated on those provisions of the act which apply primarily to the executive branch.

GAO found that title II of the act requires high-level officials in the executive branch to file financial disclosure reports shortly after assuming a federal position and annually thereafter. Candidates for the offices of President and Vice President and all Presidential nominees for positions requiring Senate approval also must file. Reports are reviewed by officials at the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) or agency ethics officials to identify possible conflicts of interest and are made available to the public upon request. The requirements of title II have been described as an obstacle to the federal government's ability to attract and retain highly qualified individuals. One misconception about the act is the belief that it requires federal officials or nominees to divest themselves of financial interests to avoid a conflict of interest or an appearance of such a conflict. Title V of the act expanded the postemployment restrictions of the existing criminal conflict-of-interest statute. Title IV of the act established OGE to provide overall direction of executive branch policies related to preventing conflicts of interest by executive branch employees. Title I of the act established public financial disclosure requirements for high-level officials in the legislative branch. Title III of the act established public financial disclosure requirements for officials and certain employees in the judicial branch.

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