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Confidential Financial Disclosure: Ethics Programs at Work behind the Scenes to Protect Government Integrity

February 15, 2022

By: Emory Rounds, Director

Although the attention on ethics tends to focus on elected officials and other senior leaders, it is important to remember the ethics rules apply to all executive branch employees, regardless of the level of their positions. 

Today, a very important aspect of reducing risk and mitigating conflicts of interest in the executive branch  happens across the executive branch as nearly 400,000 employees begin to file confidential financial disclosures with their agency ethics officials for review.

Who are these employees? They are the public servants who make decisions or exercise significant judgment without substantial supervision– such as contracting officers, investigators, grant administrators, and auditors.

Why is it important that these public servants file a confidential financial disclosure? Because their positions place them at greater ethical risk for having conflicts of interest, disclosures provide vital information necessary for agency ethics officials to advise employees. This advice, as needed, may direct employees to sell potentially conflicting assets, resign from conflicting outside employment, or to stay out of potentially conflicting government matters. This process serves as an annual internal control for hundreds of thousands of employees across the government.

So while you might not be reading headlines about these filers or hearing about these disclosures, it is important to remember that your executive branch ethics program is working behind the scenes to protect government integrity.