On August 11, 2014, OGE's Director, Walter M. Shaub, Jr., met with the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Robert A. McDonald. OGE's General Counsel, David J. Apol, and VA's Designated Agency Ethics Official, Renee L. Szybala, joined them for a discussion that focused on the importance of ethics, ideas for involving senior agency leaders in ethics, and OGE's role in supporting the ethics programs of federal agencies. In this vein, VA's Secretary has emphasized that VA's strategic plan is grounded in the strong institutional values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Ethics (which form the acronym, "I CARE"). The group also talked about the benefits of fostering a sustainable culture of ethical decision-making and ensuring that an agency's ethics office has sufficient resources to carry out its important mission.
The success of any agency's efforts to ensure compliance with the government's ethics rules is, in part, dependent on the commitment of the agency's leaders to the ethics program. For this reason, OGE's Director has advocated to leaders of federal agencies that a link exists between fostering an ethical culture and accomplishing an agency's mission: Building an ethical culture is a prerequisite for carrying out the agency's mission in ways that earn the trust of the population the agency serves.