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.

“How’m I Doing?”: Obtaining Feedback

The late New York mayor Ed Koch‘s trademark catch phrase was “”How’m I doing?” He would stand on street corners and ask random passers by.

Few of us feel Ed Koch’s compulsive need to obtain feedback, but most would benefit from learning more about how our audiences perceive us. A sample Evaluation Form in MS Word format is attached. It is based on one used by OGE trainers.

Illustrating Slides: Principles of Ethical Conduct

Illustrated Slide--Prin. Eth. Conduct-NASASure, you could include just talk about the Principles of Ethical Conduct, and show a text-only slide of them. Isn’t it more effective to include a picture of a printout of the Principles?

“But no one in the audience can read the tiny print on the picture?” Right. It doesn’t matter. You’ll quote (or probably even better, paraphrase them, as in this slide from NASA. The point of the picture is to add visual interest. It also subtly enhances the presenter’s credibility.  You are not just standing in front of the group making things up.”Seeing is believing,” right?

Here’s a copy of this slide  you can insert into your own slide show. Lots more on the importance of using graphics later.

Milo & Emily Video 1: Charitable Solicitation

YouTube has multiple versions of the ethics training video featuring cartoon characters Emily and Milo. This 3:20 clip, with its amusing flirtatious interaction between an ethically challenged employee and the object of his attentions, could enliven training sessions:

Ethics Training Video YouTube.

This excellent training aid originated at HUD. Greg Walters explained its creation in a presentation at the 2011 Office of Government Ethics Conference. The website of the business Greg used, Xtranormal.com, provides an error message as of this morning, so it may have gone under. Greg provided plenty of other resources in his presentation, so there are other paths for those who want to blaze creative ethics trails.

Quizlet: Online Tests and Other Instructional Aids

Quizlet is an online tool that lets teachers create various types of instructional aids and quizzes. Mobile versions are available.

One possible use: Before conducting a training session, create a very short test concerning the topic. As a way of stimulating interest in the training, e-mail it to the students in advance. You might ask them to print out results and tell them that everyone who scores above a certain level will get some type of reward.

Get people thinking about the topic before the training, and send the message it will not be the same old same old.

We are just beginning to explore this intriguing resource and will be exploring its applications in the future.

Website Address Changes

We are changing the website address from EthicsTrainingResources.org to EthicsTrainingForum.org and moving to a different server. The new name better reflects our goal of serving as a collaboration point, with information flowing both ways, rather than only from us to you. The new server should be more secure, and over the long-range it will make it easier for us to expand our services.

You may notice a few loose ends over the next few weeks. We won’t be making upgrades to EthicsTrainingResources.org operational for a while, and then we will route all traffic toEthicsTrainingForum.org. We will appreciate your patience during the transition.

Using Pop Culture References to Enliven Training

A Lawyerist article reports on judges who are using Star Trek references to make their decisions more accessible:

Justice Don Willett of the Supreme Court of Texas once observed: “A lot of legal writing, including judicial writing, is clunky and soul-crushingly dull. In my view, legal humor is not an oxymoron. The law, in fact, sometimes can be fun.”

Ethics training can also be fun. Further, fun training can be better training. We’ll be elaborating on this theme in future posts.

DHS Whistleblower: “I Will Sleep Better at Night”

The November 2 Washington Post story about abuse of overtime at the Department of Homeland Security estimated the loss at tens of millions of dollars a year. It contains a great quote that could be used in ethics training on Principle of Ethical Conduct 11, 5 C.F.R. 2635.101(b), “Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities”:

“It was such misuse that I felt I had a legal obligation to report. I will sleep better at night,” said Ducos Bello, a 24-year veteran of government employment. “It’s like a father who has a son who commits a crime and has to report it for the health of their child’s future.”

Thanks to Ombud Forum for drawing this to our attention. Ombud Forum is a new site supporting whistleblower ombudsmen appointed under the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012.