The Office of Government Ethics’ inability to effectively respond to the attacks of the Trump administration demonstrated the need for systemic reform, both in our ethics laws and regulations, and in the way OGE interacts with Congress, the White House, and the public. OGE’s new strategic plan must consider the importance of transparency and the related role of public pressure in ethical governance.
CREW has submitted a comment on OGE’s five year strategic plan, emphasizing that OGE must ensure that Congress and the public must be kept updated on every administration’s ethics lapses, failures, and successes, to help ensure compliance with ethics rules.
The Trump era demonstrated that private discussions with and referrals to the president related to his and his administration’s ethical violations were nearly meaningless tools in the fight to ensure compliance and accountability. OGE must recognize that problem and develop a plan to address it. Additionally, OGE failed to do their job and address the president’s violations of the Emoluments Clauses. CREW plans to continue to work with OGE to refine its strategic plan, and with Congress and the Biden administration to pass the For the People Act, which would give OGE additional legal tools to shape a more ethical government.
Following OGE’s numerous failures during the previous administration, OGE is at a crossroads and can implement new strategies to strengthen ethics compliance and enforcement. With some improvements, OGE’s five year plan can ensure that future administrations live up to their ethical responsibilities.