A Trump administration official told The Hill on Tuesday that the US government’s Office of Government Ethics is in the midst of a review of its anti-fraud bureau, as the administration seeks to modernize the agency’s mission and reduce its reliance on donations.
A top ethics official told lawmakers on the Senate Committee on Governmental Ethics that OGE is examining how the Trump administration could modernize its office and how the Office of the General Counsel, which advises the president, can be “improved.”OGE is under fire from Democrats and other groups who have accused it of failing to fully investigate allegations of corruption by Trump allies, and it was forced to issue a memo in July saying that its review was under way.
The Trump administration’s OGE has come under scrutiny after The Hill reported in September that the ethics office’s review of the office was still underway.
The report cited interviews with two former employees who said they were told they would receive letters with the results of their investigations soon after they filed their reports.
OGE declined to comment.
The OGE’s current director, Carrie Severino, has said she’s looking forward to working with President Trump to streamline the office and streamline its mission, which is to advise the president on ethics issues and to help guide the office’s ethics enforcement efforts.
The office has been criticized for its reluctance to respond to multiple congressional inquiries.
The office was created by former President Bill Clinton in 1996, when President George W. Bush appointed a bipartisan panel to look into how government ethics agencies were run.
That panel included a former chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who was later nominated to lead the Office for Government Ethics.
The report also cited internal OGE memos that suggested the office wasn’t fully focused on the issue of President Trump’s campaign and his presidency.
It also said OGE staff told former officials that they were required to be nonpartisan and did not have to be loyal to any particular political party.
In the memo, OGE said it was focused on finding ways to modernise its office, which has long been dominated by former officials and lobbyists.
“While we continue to develop a comprehensive, independent review of OGE, it is clear that our focus is shifting away from finding solutions to real problems to finding ways for OGE to work with the President and the White House to reduce conflicts of interest,” the memo read.