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OGE Published an Update to the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch

May 20, 2024

Shelley K. Finlayson, Acting Director and Program Counsel

In the more than 30 years that the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (Standards) have been in effect, they have served to help federal employees protect the trust of the public they serve. From helping employees navigate ethical challenges created by gifts, invitations, and outside jobs to potential financial conflicts of interest and impartiality, the Standards have created consistency and a strong foundation for government ethics.

However, a lot has changed in 30 years. New questions arise and new laws and rules are created. New technological advances shape the ways that we interact with the world around us. The federal workforce never stops changing and evolving, so the Standards must also evolve.

As a result, OGE just issued a final rule updating the Standards. The final rule revises the Standards based on OGE’s experience gained from applying the regulation since its inception, input gathered during the public comment period, as well as feedback from ethics officials over the years. It also incorporates past interpretive guidance, improves clarity, modernizes regulatory examples to make them more relevant and inclusive, updates citations, and corrects technical deficiencies.

The revised Standards will maintain all the utility of the original, while being easier to use, more complete, and reflective of the modern federal workforce and the situations they may face.

These rules are the foundation of the ethics program.  The Standards ensure consistency across the government, continuity through time, and fairness in the ethical expectations of all executive branch employees. They are a foundational tool for protecting and growing the trust between the American people and their government.

So, I invite you to take a look at Legal Advisory 24-06 describing the changes and the final rule, which is effective on August 15, 2024. The improved rule will serve the executive branch workforce, the ethics community, and the American people for many years to come.