A smooth transition of power within the executive branch requires significant preparation and planning. An agency’s ethics office plays a vital role in preparing and ensuring that new agency leadership, irrespective of the outcome of the election, can serve with integrity.
Responsibilities of the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO)
The DAEO – acting directly or through other officials – is responsible for reviewing the financial disclosure reports of prospective Presidential nominees and resolving their potential conflicts of interest. The DAEO also plays a critical role in providing initial ethics briefings to new leadership. Conversely, the DAEO must provide post-employment guidance to outgoing employees.
Not later than 12 months before any Presidential election, the DAEO evaluates whether the agency's ethics program has an adequate number of trained agency ethics officials to deliver effective support in the event of a Presidential transition. In the absence of a Presidential transition, the DAEO can still expect turnover in agency political leadership and should plan for an increased workload in advice and counsel, financial disclosure, and ethics training.
Key Legal Authorities
5 C.F.R. § 2638.210– Presidential transition planning
5 C.F.R. § 2638.104(c)(15)– Responsibilities of the DAEO regarding election readiness
5 C.F.R. § 2638.604(p) – Key program dates regarding election readiness planning
2020 Presidential Election Readiness
This page provides resources for presidential candidates, presidential transition teams, nominees to presidentially-appointed Senate-confirmed positions, and external presidential election readiness and transition-related websites.
Are You Ready? Election Readiness Curriculum
OGE has created a curriculum of courses to help the ethics community prepare for the Presidential election and the period that follows. On the curriculum page are video recordings of discussions with election experts, courses on post-employment, resources planning, and financial disclosures, as well as links to helpful resources.
Post-Election Readiness Review
In 2012 OGE assessed the post-election readiness at the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and State, which collectively account for nearly 40 percent of all Presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate. Each review report reflects the essential elements of a successful ethics program: succession planning, specific and continuous training, and a program structure ensuring accountability. Agencies may find the review of these reports helpful as they look for ways to evaluate and improve their own ethics program’s presidential election readiness.
As the supervising ethics office, OGE has insight into the methods, procedures, and practices of over 130 agency ethics programs and seeks to highlight these practices as a resource for improving ethics programs across the executive branch. The following practices are gathered from OGE program reviews, agency responses to Annual Agency Ethics Program Questionnaires and data calls, and OGE summits and conferences. While no single approach is one-size-fits-all, ethics officials may find other agencies’ practices useful to the effective and efficient administration of their own ethics program.