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Barry McVay's FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH

DATE: February 14, 2000

FROM: Barry McVay, CPCM

SUBJECT: Office of Government Ethics; Executive Agency Ethics Training Programs

SOURCE: Federal Register, February 11, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 30, page 7275

AGENCIES: Office of Government Ethics (OGE)

ACTION: Interim Rule

SYNOPSIS: OGE is rewriting, in plain language, its executive branch agency ethics regulation in Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations; Part 2638, Office of Government Ethics and Executive Agency Ethics Program Responsibilities; Subpart G, Executive Agency Ethics Training Programs. The regulation requires that covered employees who file public financial disclosure reports receive verbal ethics training every year presented by a qualified instructor who is available to respond to ethics questions. In addition to the conversion to plain language, this interim rule clarifies that the qualified instructor is not required to be at the training site.

DATES: This interim rule is effective March 15, 2000. Comments on the interim rule are due by May 15, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to the Office of Government Ethics, Suite 500, 1201 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005-3917, Attn: Arielle H. Grill. Comments may also be sent electronically to usoge@oge.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arielle H. Grill, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the General Counsel and Legal Policy, Office of Government Ethics; 202-208-8000, extension 1219; TDD: 202-208-8025; fax: 202-208-8037.

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: On March 12, 1997, OGE published an interim rule amending Subpart G of 5 CFR Part 2638, which permitted agencies to provide ethics training for most covered employees by means of written training, provided that the employees receive verbal training at least once every three calendar years. The interim rule required agencies to continue to provide annual verbal training to employees who file public financial disclosure forms ("public filers").

OGE received 15 comments on the 1997 interim rule: 13 from federal agencies, one from an individual executive branch employee, and one from an interagency group of ethics officials. The two primary changes being made by this interim rule as a result of comments on the 1997 interim rule are:

This interim rule has reorganized Subpart G in an effort to simplify and clarify the language in accordance with Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993, Regulatory Planning and Review, and President Clinton's June 1, 1998, memorandum titled "Plain Language in Government Writing". The following is the revised contents of Subpart G:

     2638.701 Overview
     2638.702 Definitions
     2638.703 Initial Agency Ethics Orientation For All Employees
     2638.704 Annual Ethics Training For Public Filers
     2638.705 Annual Ethics Training For Other Employees
     2638.706 Agency's Written Plan For Annual Ethics Training

New Section 2638.702 provides definitions of terms used throughout the subpart, and another new section is a result of dividing the annual training requirement into two sections: one for public filers (Section 2638.704) and one for all other covered employees (Section 2638.705).

Also, to make the regulation easier to follow, OGE has avoided numbering subordinate paragraphs past the second level -- for example, there is a Section 2638.703(a)(1) but not a Section 2638.703(a)(1)(i) or a Section 2638.703(a)(1)(i)(A).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barry McVay at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to BarryMcVay@FedGovContracts.com.

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