September 16, 2021
By: Shelley Finlayson, Program Counsel
The ethics program exists to protect and promote public trust in government. By leveraging data at OGE, we hope to reduce risk, increase our impact, and reach our important goal of preventing conflicts of interest in the executive branch — all while enabling you to see for yourself how the ethics program is doing.
OGE leverages data every day—
–to oversee the ethics program: OGE collects and analyzes an annual report from each of more than 130 agencies on the performance of their ethics programs. OGE analyzes this data and when it finds heightened risk, sends a team to conduct a program review. From those reviews, OGE tracks every recommendation for improvement to follow up and bring agencies into compliance. In addition, OGE uses this data to help agency ethics officials improve their programs by comparing them against the data from other agencies across the executive branch. All of the data helps OGE mitigate risk across 130 agencies and millions of federal employees.
–to develop ethics guidance and training: OGE regularly monitors the tough questions ethics officials receive from federal employees, and ethics issues raised by the public, media, Congress, and good government groups. It uses this information to evaluate the need for new OGE guidance and training, and to use its communication tools to educate stakeholders. For example, OGE used data about media and public inquiries to develop its new individual search collection webpage and a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that helps navigate when, where, and how to find/request public financial disclosure reports.
–to hold itself accountable: OGE solicits feedback and collects data to shape its strategic direction and assess its performance. OGE conducts meetings, listening sessions, focus groups, and surveys to gather information to prioritize and direct its limited resources to strengthen the ethics program. For example, OGE solicits public comments on proposed regulatory changes to allow members of the public, non-profits, and others to share their thoughts and help OGE craft better ethics regulations.
The executive branch ethics program is vast and decentralized. Leveraging data enables OGE and agencies across the executive branch to efficiently and effectively do the work necessary to promote the public’s trust in government.