The Office of Government Ethics has posted an announcement clarifying that while it oversees ethics laws applying to federal employees, it does not investigate or prosecute alleged violations by individuals.
The statement follows requests by members of Congress in recent years—from Democrats during the Trump administration and more recently from Republicans during the Biden administration—to look into individual situations, commonly involving senior administration officials or family members.
Said the statement, “OGE is not an oversight agency in the way most people expect. OGE doesn’t investigate individual violations of ethics rules. OGE doesn’t prosecute violations of the ethics laws. The Offices of Inspectors General and the Department of Justice are responsible for those functions. OGE does, however, conduct various kinds of oversight.”
That oversight includes reviews of each agency’s ethics program for compliance with general laws, timeliness of required reviews of employee financial disclosures, and training and counseling agencies provide to their employees, it said. If problems are identified recommendations are made to the agency and the OGE monitors the agency’s response, it said.
It added that while the OGE does not conduct investigations or prosecutions of individuals, agencies are required to notify OGE when they refer a case to the Department of Justice for prosecution. The OGE publishes an annual accounting of prosecutions and if the Justice Department declines to prosecute, agencies have to notify OGE whether they took administrative action, information the OGE publishes quarterly.