Ethics Enforcement:

Process by Which Conflict of Interest Allegations Are Investigated and Resolved

GGD-87-83BR: Published: May 21, 1987. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1987.

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GAO reviewed the federal government's procedures for enforcing federal conflict of interest laws.

GAO found that the Department of Justice receives allegations of conflict-of-interest violations from agency inspectors general and conducts investigations to determine which cases have merit or deserve administrative action. If the investigation results in proof of an offense, Justice will prosecute the offender unless there is a lack of prosecutive merit, which is based on: (1) a lack of tangible harm to the government; (2) a substantial likelihood of acquittal; and (3) the possibility of administrative action as an alternative to prosecution. GAO also found that there is a need for: (1) regulations to define key terms in the statutes; (2) better interagency coordination; (3) civil and criminal penalties to facilitate prosecution; and (4) clarification of the referral process.

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