Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed possible conflicts of interest when federal employees do similar work both inside and outside of government, focusing on: (1) the extent and characteristics of employees' approved activities outside the federal government; (2) agency regulations and procedures for monitoring outside activities; (3) approved activities that could create the appearance of conflicts of interest; and (4) whether the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has provided guidance to agencies on approving and monitoring employees' outside activities or reviewed agency controls over such activities.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Office of Government Ethics||1. To help avoid ethics problems relating to employees' outside activities, the Director, OGE, should ensure that the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fully adopt and comply with applicable restrictions on employees' compensation for outside speeches, articles, and appearances that relate to federal responsibilities.|
|Office of Government Ethics||2. To help avoid ethics problems relating to employees' outside activities, the Director, OGE, should provide agencies with guidance and criteria on the acceptance of compensation for consulting activities that relate to agencies' responsibilities, programs, and operations.|
|Office of Government Ethics||3. To help avoid problems relating to employees' outside activities, the Director, OGE, should revise the proposed OGE standard-of-conduct regulations to require that each agency establish, when appropriate and necessary on the basis of its particular mission and operations, adequate prior agency review of employee's outside activities and periodic update of approvals.|