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    Subject Term: "Federal advisory bodies"

    2 publications with a total of 4 open recommendations
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure HHS has reliable data on SGEs not serving on federal boards, the Secretary of HHS should take steps to improve the reliability of data on SGEs not serving on boards. For example, the agency could reconcile human capital data with general counsel and ethics office data, or issue clarifying guidance to human capital staff on appropriately identifying SGEs in human capital databases.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, HHS submitted its action plan to address GAO's recommendations. HHS stated the agency is currently reviewing its internal policies and procedures related to the hiring of special government employees not serving on boards to identify policy options that might improve data reliability. In January 2017, the Office of Government Ethics issued its Ethics Program Review of HHS and commented on ongoing and planned efforts by HHS to address challenges associated with identifying Special Government Employees who do not serve on federal advisory committees. Ongoing efforts include internal coordination between the Office of General Counsel-Ethics Division and human resource officials to implement new requirements based on 5 CFR part 2638. We are following up with HHS to determine the status of actions on the new requirements.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies report consistent and reliable data, the Director of OGE should determine (e.g., through a survey of Designated Agency Ethics Officials and/or by analyzing agency data) whether other executive branch agencies are experiencing data challenges similar to HHS, State, and NRC. If they are, the Director should take steps to help the agencies strengthen their data.

    Agency: Office of Government Ethics
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016 and 2017, OGE reported on action taken to address coordination and data challenges agencies face in fulfilling ethics program requirements for Special Government Employees. In 2016, OGE published a final rule amending its regulations that govern executive branch ethics programs found at 5 CFR Part 2638. OGE reported that this regulation will help agencies strengthen their data and address concerns raised by agencies with regard to human resource coordination. In February 2017, OGE reported on results of a survey of executive branch ethics officials and concluded that based on agency responses, OGE does not believe executive branch agencies are experiencing systematic challenges in connection with data regarding Expert/Consultant SGEs. OGE reported the survey results show that information regarding the hiring and designation of SGEs is primarily within the control of human resource officials and described steps taken by OGE to strengthen the relationship between human resources and agency ethics officials. We are following up with OGE actions taken to improve internal coordination between ethics and human resource officials at executive branch agencies as required by the amended regulations.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should document procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB and criteria for evaluating such requests.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB). According to EPA officials, the agency will also make modifications to the SAB charter to be consistent with the process. When the charter is updated, we will review it to determine whether clarifying language included meets the intent of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should clarify in policy documents when it is and when it is not appropriate for the EPA Administrator to forward advice to the requesting committee.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB. These procedures, however, do not ensure compliance with ERDDAA because they fail to recognize that under ERDDAA, the SAB is required to provide requested scientific advice to select committees. The procedures lay out a process and criteria for reviewing congressional requests for SAB advice which include: 1) the scope of EPA's legal authorities; 2) whether the requested advice is related to the science and technical aspect of the environmental issue, rather than a question of public policy; and 3) EPA priorities and strategic plan. The relevant criterion for determining whether the SAB should take up a question, however, is whether it is scientific in nature. The other criteria may be relevant to EPA's prioritization of requests to the SAB in light of the SAB's limited resources.