Letter to the Editor on Government Ethics
Ethics Resource Center 2002
The Honorable Stephen D. Potts
To the Editor:
In support of a publication addressing the financial disclosure and confirmation process, on Sunday David S. Broder called the ethics process for government officials costly and cumbersome. As the former Director of the US Office of Government Ethics (OGE), I write to suggest an answer to Mr. Broder's ultimate question. What price ethics? The cost of ethics regulation might be expensive, but the result is something to be valued. Literally and figuratively.
I served at the request of two presidents, and was subject to the financial disclosure and confirmation process myself. Mr. Broder is right-nominees must consent to a series of investigations and to the reporting of information in order to assure the public that they are qualified to serve. It's a very detailed process. Too detailed.
But the cumbersome nature of the process is not news. In April of 2001, OGE proposed a streamlining of the disclosure process before the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the Senate, and the Committee on Government Reform of the House of Representatives. Among other things, OGE's report called for a simplification of the disclosure forms, elimination of redundant reporting, and greater protection of the privacy of nominated executive branch officials.
What is news is the fact that we, the American public, need that confirmation process. Especially today. The confirmation process is, in essence, the system of due diligence available to the President. It enables the President to make an informed decision about the qualifications of an individual to hold an appointed office.
I urge Mr. Broder to lend his support to OGE's efforts to improve and simplify the process.
The Honorable Stephen D. Potts Former Director of the US Office of Government Ethics Chairman, Fellows Program, Ethics Resource Center
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