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OGE’s New Strategic Objective: Fostering an Ethical Culture in the Executive Branch

September 28, 2022

By: Emory Rounds, Director

Ethical culture can seem like a vague concept. Fostering an ethical culture may seem like trying to bottle sunshine. It is tempting to say that it sounds nice, but probably is not possible.

If we examine the idea of culture, we can see it is real. Culture is composed of concrete practices. An agency’s culture is composed of its priorities, risks, and accomplishments. They can promote and protect the public’s trust. They can also erode it. OGE encourages agencies to orient their cultures toward protecting the trust of those we serve.

OGE’s efforts begin with responsibility. Every federal employee has a responsibility to protect the public’s trust. OGE rules specify the responsibilities of employees, supervisors, and agency heads.

Employees’ responsibilities include attending training and asking for ethics advice. Some are also responsible for completing financial disclosures. Supervisors should serve as good role models and help employees uphold their obligations. Agency heads lead the ethics program. They provide the resources to ensure its success. All of us in federal service have a responsibility to uphold the principles of ethical service. We must put the public’s needs before our own.

OGE is committed to helping federal employees create and maintain ethical cultures in their agencies. We develop training materials for leaders and supervisors. We communicate with agency leaders to ensure they understand their obligations to the ethics program. And we use opportunities like this note to remind the federal workforce to protect our most vital resource: the trust of the American people.

I am grateful to all the civil servants who honorably serve the public. I hope that OGE’s support of ethical culture in government will encourage these dedicated public servants.