Background and Mission
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE), a small agency within the Executive branch, was established by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. Originally part of the Office of Personnel Management, OGE became a separate agency on October 1, 1989 as part of the Office of Government Ethics Reauthorization Act of 1988.
The Office of Government Ethics exercises leadership in the Executive branch to prevent conflicts of interest on the part of Government employees, and to resolve those conflicts of interest that do occur. In partnership with Executive branch agencies and departments, OGE fosters high ethical standards for employees and strengthens the public’s confidence that the Government’s business is conducted with impartiality and integrity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does OGE have jurisdiction over the ethics programs of the Legislative and Judicial branches?
A: No, OGE is the supervising ethics office for the Executive branch. Each branch of the Federal Government is responsible for its own ethics program and in the case of the Legislative branch, each house has its own committee.
Q: Where do I get information about the rules relating to Federal employees’ involvement in political activities?
A: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has jurisdiction on all matters involving the Hatch Act which prohibits Federal employees from engaging in certain political activities.
Q: Who is responsible for prosecuting alleged violations of the criminal conflict of interest statutes?
A: The Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice or the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Office (generally in the jurisdiction where the alleged misconduct took place).
Q: Who is responsible for investigating the alleged misconduct of Federal employees?
A: The Inspector General of the department or agency involved and, when necessary, the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice. The 64 Inspector Generals (IG) in the Executive branch of the U.S. government conduct the majority of investigations into government wrong-doing.
In addition they also coordinate investigations with their regular financial and management audits of Federal agencies and programs. The coordinating body for the Inspectors General is the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) of which the Office of Government Ethics is a member.
Q: Are there other Government offices that have ethics-related duties?
A: Yes. For more information on other U.S. Government entities with ethics/conduct-related authority, see the List of U.S. Government Entities with Ethics/Conduct-Related Authority on the Office of Government Ethics website at https://www.oge.gov/