Institute for Ethics in Government MAX Community

OGE has moved to the cloud–at least its educational programs. The Institute for Ethics in Government MAX Community is a secure, interactive private website (“intranet”) that as of May, 2013 is:

[The] new home for all of OGE’s education offerings, making learning opportunities available to all Executive Branch ethics officials, regardless of geography, experience, or grade. This platform will provide high quality continuing education, both live and on-demand, to government ethics practitioners at all levels. It also will provide useful tools and products to support ethics officials in advising employees at their agencies. OGE has designed these educational products to support both large and small ethics programs in meeting the internal professional development needs of their staffs.

Developed and operated by OMB, the MAX intranet is a formidable technical platform, with high security and relatively user friendly, as these things go. Registration is required, and for the most part, membership is restricted to federal employees.

One of the biggest potential MAX benefits is facilitating not just one-way communications from OGE to its minions, but making it easy for user with something to say to contribute.  An active, effective MAX website would be a giant benefit for ethics practitioners throughout the government, and we’ll discuss in future posts what needs to be done to make that happen. One observation in the meantime: No intranet can completely replace live meetings. OGE should try to find a way to add live meetings, including worldwide conferences, to its schedule.

Answering Audience Questions

I usually like answering audience questions, partly, because I feel like when I’m answering a question, I’m directly addressing an issue at least one person in the audience feels is important. Not everybody shares my enthusiasm for answering questions, though. Here are four essays I drafted for IEC Journal about answering audience questions:

Learn From Oscar Winner Jared Leto’s Acceptance Speech

The Washington Post got Hollywood speech-writer Jeff Nussbaum to critique Oscar winner Jared Leto’s acceptance speech. The best nugget:

Nussbaum says Leto started off oh-so-right, with a lovely little anecdote about his mother. “He began by doing what I advise speakers to do all the time — start with a story to capture the audience’s attention,” Nussbaum says.

Narrative is one of the best tools in the trainer’s tool chest. Pick stories that are relevant and tell them in an engaging way. Don’t be afraid to borrow Jared Leto’s technique.

Resources for Counseling Employees With Debt Issues

Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch section 5 C.F.R. § 2635.101(b)(12) makes employee private debt a matter of government concern:

(12) Employees shall satisfy in good faith their obligations as citizens, including all just financial obligations, especially those—such as Federal, State, or local taxes—that are imposed by law.

Failure to pay a court-ordered obligation can be a basis for disciplinary action: OGE advisory opinion 94×9: Executive Branch Employee’s Obligation to Satisfy Just Debts.

A USA.gov post on credit counselor resources might be useful for managers or DAEOs counseling an employee with debt issues.