4.01: Certification Requirements
What Certification Means
5 U.S.C. app. § 106(b); 5 C.F.R. § 2634.605(b)
In order to certify a report, a reviewer must determine, to his or her satisfaction, that:
- each required part of the report is completed and
- no interest or position disclosed on the report violates or appears to violate:
- any applicable provision of chapter 11 of title 18, United States Code (i.e., criminal conflict of interest statutes);
- the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, and the implementing regulations;
- Executive Order 12674, as modified by Executive Order 12731, and the implementing regulations (i.e., Standards of Conduct);
- any other applicable Executive Order in force at the time of the review (e.g., Ethics Pledge); or
- any other agency-specific statute or regulation that governs the filer.
5 U.S.C. app. § 106(b); 5 C.F.R. § 2634.605(a)
Reports may be certified by:
- the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO);
- the Alternate Designated Agency Ethics Official (ADAEO); or
- a delegate of the DAEO, such as a deputy ethics official, deputy ethics counselor, deputy standards of conduct counselor, or the equivalent.
Only the DAEO (or ADAEO in the DAEO’s absence) may certify reports of nominees to positions requiring Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation (PAS). For the DAEO’s own report, the agency head or a delegate of the agency head should certify the report.
Where to Certify
A reviewer certifies a printed, hard copy of the OGE Form 278e by signing and dating the Cover Page in the fields reserved for “Agency Ethics Official’s Opinion.”
A reviewer certifies an OGE Form 278e filed within Integrity or another electronic financial disclosure system by taking the appropriate action within the system. See your system’s user guide for assistance. Once certified, the reviewer’s electronic signature will display in the “Agency Ethics Official’s Opinion” field of the report.
Although not required, some agencies find it useful to have one or more individuals conduct intermediate reviews prior to the final review by the certifying official. These intermediate reviews may entail a full review for technical sufficiency and potential conflicts or a limited review for only certain issues.
Limited Intermediate Reviews
An individual conducting a limited intermediate review does not check whether the report meets all the prerequisites for certification. For example, an agency may require the supervisor to examine disclosed entries for any apparent conflicts with the filer’s duty assignments without requiring the supervisor to check for technical errors. Similarly, the agency may require an individual to check a report for technical errors without having to consider potential conflicts.
Given the limited nature of such reviews, Integrity does not display the completion of these activities on the publicly releasable version of the report but rather records the activities within an internal log of review events. For hard copy reports, a limited review may be noted in the “Comments of Reviewing Officials” section or in the agency’s background notes to the report. If a limited review is recorded in the “Other Review” field, the limited nature of the review should be noted.
Agencies must ensure that limited intermediate reviewers have sufficient training to perform the tasks within their purview. For example, a supervisor tasked with conducting a review for potential conflicts needs to be familiar with the federal conflict of interest laws.
Full Intermediate Reviews
An individual conducting a full intermediate review checks whether the report meets all the prerequisites for certification. Such intermediate reviewers follow the same review standards applicable to certifying officials that have been set forth in this section of the guide. Upon completing a full intermediate review, the reviewer signs and dates the report, which is displayed in the “Other Review” field of the Cover Page.
Agencies must ensure that full intermediate reviewers:
- are familiar with the technical reporting requirements;
- are familiar with the federal conflict of interest laws; and
- can evaluate available conflict of interest remedies in light of the filer’s duties.