DO-08-027: 2008 Education and Communication Awards Winner's Circle

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September 8, 2008



TO: Designated Agency Ethics Officials

FROM: Robert I. Cusick Director

SUBJECT: 2008 Education and Communication Awards Winner’s Circle

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is pleased to announce the 2008 Education and Communication Award recipients. The award recipients demonstrated a strong commitment to ethics education and communication; created a stronger ethical culture as a result of these efforts; and utilized model practices to encourage understanding and awareness of ethical behaviors. Moreover, they produced education and communication products that were innovative, creative, transferable and successful; and their products serve as models that can be adapted for use by other agencies.

The awards reflect the importance OGE places on education and communication as major factors in ensuring an ethical workforce. OGE recognizes the outstanding achievements of the following agencies (in alphabetical order):

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for successfully integrating senior leadership support into its education program. The Board of Governors created a video of its Chairman discussing the importance of the ethics program and the Board’s expectation that every employee understands and complies with the ethics rules.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for its innovative communications campaign that introduced its new electronic 278 and 450 filing and tracking system. This extraordinary campaign included a uniquely-designed poster, individual desktop distribution, and a news article announcing the implementation of the system. The award-winning poster of a late model sports car with a slogan "FDIC Sets the Pace" captures the audience through its unique design.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for taking the initiative to deliver training to a geographically dispersed workforce using a variety of formats, such as live presentations, daily airing on FEMA’s internal cable network, and by DVD. FEMA also expanded its audience by delivering Ethics for FEMA Contractors training to all new headquarters contractor employees. In addition, FEMA conducted in-person train-the-trainer sessions with its field attorneys.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for creating its own version of a model practice identified in the 2007 training awards. FERC created a laminated, two-sided ethics official contact information/ethics topics card. The card is hole-punched so that it can be carried on the FERC ID card.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for creating a suite of interactive games. As far as getting employees actively involved in the training, this agency wins hands down for developing fun and interactive games which include Ethics Da Vinci Code, Solve the Ethics Puzzle, and Ethics Deal or No Deal. FTC also created its own version of a model practice identified in the 2007 training awards. FTC created Ethics Survivor, an instructor-led game based on the TV show.

Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for its "Guide for Resolving or Reporting Workplace Issues" booklet and poster. Written in plain English, both the booklet and poster are eye-catching and professionally tailored. The booklet was distributed agency-wide and the posters are on display throughout ODNI. The ethics staff worked with other ODNI offices to create these materials in response to confusion among agency staff and contractors as to which office handled different types of workplace issues.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) for successfully integrating senior leadership support into its education program, its interactive training entitled: "Staying Away from the Ethics Warning Track," and its special edition newsletter. The PBGC Director played an active role in the ethics program by incorporating ethics into the Corporation’s strategic plan. Moreover, the PBGC Director participated in the instructor-led training entitled: "Staying Away from the Ethics Warning Track" to show his support for the ethics program. This training uses a creative baseball metaphor to teach ethics and successfully engage employees in an active learning environment. Employees seat themselves in simulated baseball stadiums and the training is conducted by a baseball coach and a captain. Employees perform role plays and engage in discussions of ethical lapses. Lastly, the plain English PBGC INbox newsletter grabs employees’ attention and literally compels them to read it. The scope of PBGC’s ethics training program serves as an excellent model for how strong leadership support and creativity can be dovetailed into an active learning program.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for creating a course for employees on how to fill out the OGE 450 form. This training addresses common pitfalls and reporting errors on the OGE 450 form. Employees are invited to bring their forms and fill them out during class. This training not only helps ensure compliance with the regulatory reporting requirements but also helps minimize the number of contacts reviewing officials need to make to obtain additional information from filers. This training also integrates real world experiences into the classroom. By allowing employees to bring their 450 forms to class, the agency encourages active learning and practical application. USAID also launched two initiatives to respond to unique training needs. The first is its training on the ethics aspects of travel vouchers for its overseas employees who, because of their positions, do extensive traveling. The second is its values-based training to the Colombian equivalent of West Point and another presentation to many high-ranking military and civilian officials in the Dominican Republic. Notably, these presentations resulted in favorable media coverage.

U.S. Air Force for creating a comprehensive ethics education program. This exciting program includes a wide array of education initiatives. The Air Force established the Ethics Integrated Process Team which undertook an internal Air Force-wide study of ethics education and development programs to ensure that a uniform message promoting the Air Force Core Values and the highest ethical standards is being relayed to its entire workforce. They also established an Excellence in Ethics Program Award to recognize organizations which promote an ethical culture. Such an award demonstrates that a strong ethics program is a priority for senior leadership and furthers the creation of a culture in which all employees take ownership of ethics. Ethics training programs include values-based online training, operational outreach, and briefings to senior military leaders and outside groups. They also developed a series of six professionally-packaged ethics pamphlets.

U.S. Army, CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) for its sophisticated delivery of annual ethics training and for its two Ethics Smart cards. CECOM LCMC delivered training using its intranet with streaming video format. The entire workforce – 10,600 employees – completed annual ethics training at their individual computers and did so within 60 days. CECOM LCMC also expanded its award-winning 2007 Ethics Smart Card concept by issuing two new laminated credit card-sized cards. One is on Gifts in the Federal Workplace; the other is on Contractors in the Workplace.

U.S. Department of Agriculture for responding to a unique training need by creating training on ethics issues surrounding the Combined Federal Campaign, especially fundraising events by employee associations. The Department swept into action by creating computer-based training for all employees and developing and providing in-person training and a Q&A desk reference for over 450 CFC coordinators and key workers.

U.S. Department of the Interior for developing a dynamic laminated Ethics Guide for employees. This polished, professional guide has colorful pictures and prints which demand employees’ attention. The guide features tabs on a variety of ethics topics and is small enough for employees to carry. The Department also conducted a four-day seminar for its ethics advisors from across the country.

U.S. Department of State for its online Ethics Orientation for New Employees course. This online training includes a plain English rationale of the importance of each ethics topic, and a chance for employees to apply the newly-learned information and receive feedback on pop-up screens. The Department produced a version for regular employees and one for special Government employees. There are also foreign language versions, including Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. The Department also implemented a model practice based on the 2007 training awards by creating its own version of the Ethics Sweepstakes, the online horse race.

U.S. Department of the Treasury - Departmental Offices for creating a captivating newsletter and the innovative Ethics Scheduler. The quarterly award-winning newsletter features a popular column titled "Ask Cagney the Ethics Dog," along with a host of other ethics articles, issues, reminders, and announcements. Rarely have we seen such a one-of-a-kind, thought-provoking creation as the Ethics Scheduler. This monthly ethics scheduler is designed for employees and features pictures and words of encouragement as well as reminders and dates. The Department also created its own version of a model practice based on the 2007 training awards, a laminated, two-sided ethics official contact information/14 principles card.

Please join OGE in congratulating these agencies and welcoming them into the 2008 Education and Communication Winner’s Circle. The 2008 Education and Communication Awards are intended not only to showcase the agencies’ products and celebrate their achievements but also to foster the sharing of effective training ideas within the ethics community. The award-winning agencies’ development of these training initiatives, programs, and products serve as model practices to all agencies. Integrating senior leadership support into the ethics program, actively involving employees in learning ethics, creating unique ways to spread the message that ethics is critical, and applying model practices from previous award winners is abundantly evident in this year’s awards.