Office of Government Ethics:

Need for Additional Funding for Regulation Development and Oversight

T-GGD-92-17: Published: Mar 4, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Office of Government Ethics' (OGE) operations and funding levels. GAO noted that: (1) the OGE work load has increased significantly since 1989, and OGE has been charged with additional responsibilities regarding establishing a single set of standards of conduct, conducting annual ethics briefings, revising conflict-of-interest statutes, reforming lobbying regulation, and staff training; (2) in response to the increasing work load, OGE has received funds for an additional 25 staff years for fiscal year (FY) 1992 and is requesting funds for an estimated increase of 31 staff years for FY 1993; (3) limited staffing has impeded OGE ability to develop or revise important regulations quickly enough to meet agencies' needs; (4) OGE inability to timely carry out its responsibilities has adversely affected agencies' implementation of ethics programs; (5) OGE lacks sufficient staff to achieve its goal of conducting triennial reviews of agencies' ethics programs; and (6) the reviews OGE did conduct were generally of reasonable scope and depth, but OGE has been unable to ensure that agencies implemented its recommendations. GAO also noted that: (1) OGE believes that proposed legislation that would remove the annual $5-million cap on OGE authorization of appropriations would provide it with more flexibility to fulfill its expanding responsibilities; and (2) Congress could lift the cap and still maintain oversight of OGE activities through the reauthorization process and oversight hearings.

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