United States Office of Government Ethics, Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch

Honoring Our Public Servants. Connecting Citizens with Their Government
May 5, 2014

by Walter M. Shaub, Jr.

Yesterday marked the start of Public Service Recognition Week, an event celebrated during the first week of May since 1985. The event’s theme this year is Proud to Serve.

It’s easy to be proud to serve in the federal executive branch. Over the years, federal employees have made critical contributions to this nation in countless ways. They have advanced medical research and technological innovation, ensured the safety of our food and our workplaces, cared for our veterans and the elderly, fought homelessness, brought criminals to justice, aided victims of natural and man-made disasters, expanded educational opportunities, and much more. In commemoration of these contributions, on March 25, 2014, the United States Senate issued a resolution commending federal employees for their dedication and service to the United States.

I am especially proud of the executive branch’s ethics officials, who protect the integrity of the government’s operations. By its very nature, their work does not always draw attention because their greatest successes are manifested in the absence of ethical problems. But a strong ethical culture does not happen by accident, and it does not happen without hard work. As I said during my confirmation hearing, every day some part of the ethics program that OGE oversees is at work in every agency in the executive branch. This program is ensuring that ethics is a top priority for appointees as they begin government service. It is ensuring that public servants at all levels remain free from conflicts of interest – and even the appearance of conflicts of interest – as they do their jobs. It is ensuring that employees who are seeking to leave the government avoid conflicts of interest and, after they leave, ensuring that they do not have undue access to their former agencies on behalf of others. Above all, it is working to protect the public’s trust in government.

Having worked closely with these ethics officials for almost a decade and a half, I have seen first-hand how hard they work, how dedicated they are, and how much they believe in the mission of the government ethics program. I am proud to know them and proud of their service.