Federal Register: March 11, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 47)
DOCID: FR Doc 05-4879
OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS
Government Ethics Office
CFR Citation: 5 CFR Parts 2634 and 2635
ACTION: Government ethics:
DOCUMENT ACTION: Final rule; technical amendments.
Technical Updating Amendments to Executive Branch Financial Disclosure and Standards of Ethical Conduct Regulations
DATES: The amendments to 5 CFR 2634.304 are retroactively effective to January 1, 2005, and the amendments to 5 CFR 2635.204 are effective March 11, 2005.
The Office of Government Ethics is updating its executive branch regulation on financial disclosure to reflect the retroactive statutory increase of the reporting thresholds for gifts and travel reimbursements. In addition, OGE is similarly raising the widely attended gatherings nonsponsor gifts exception dollar ceiling under the executive branchwide standards of ethical conduct regulation.
Executive branch financial disclosure and ethical conduct regulations standards; technical amendments,
The Office of Government Ethics is amending pertinent sections of its executive branchwide ethics regulations on financial disclosure and standards of ethical conduct (the Standards), as codified at 5 CFR parts 2634 and 2635, in order to update them. Increased Gifts and Travel Reimbursements Reporting Thresholds
First, OGE is retroactively increasing, to January 1, 2005, the reporting thresholds for gifts, reimbursements and travel expenses in the OGE executive branchwide regulation at 5 CFR 2634.304 (and as illustrated in the four examples following paragraph (d) of that section) for both the public and confidential financial disclosure systems under section 102(a)(2)(A) & (B) of the Ethics in Government Act as amended, 5 U.S.C. app. 102(a)(2)(A) & (B), as extended to the executive branch confidential reporting system by 5 CFR 2634.907(a)(3). The new reporting thresholds for gifts and travel reimbursements being retroactively incorporated in OGE's financial disclosure regulation are ``more than $305'' for the aggregation threshold for reporting and ``$122 or less'' for the de minimis exception for gifts and reimbursements which do not have to be counted towards the aggregate threshold (from the prior levels of more than $285 aggregate and $114 or less de minimis exception, respectively).
These increases are brought about by a recent General Services Administration (GSA) rulemaking raising ``minimal value'' under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, 5 U.S.C. 7342, to ``$305 or less'' (from the prior level of $285 or less) for the threeyear period 2005 2007, as the Ethics Act and OGE regulatory gifts/travel reimbursements reporting thresholds are tied to any such increase in foreign gifts minimal value over $250. See GSA's rulemaking as published at 70 FR 23172318 (part V) (January 12, 2005), revising retroactively to January 1, 2005 the foreign gifts minimal value definition as codified at 41 CFR 10242.10.
The Office of Government Ethics will continue to adjust the gifts
and travel reimbursements reporting thresholds in the future as needed
in light of GSA's redefinition of ``minimal value'' every three years
for foreign gifts purposes. See OGE's previous retroactive adjustments
of those reporting thresholds, as published at 65 FR 6965569657
(November 20, 2000) and 67 FR 6176161762 (October 2, 2002), that were
based on GSA's prior redefinitions for the periods 19992001 and 2002 2004, respectively.
Increased Dollar Ceiling for the Exception for Nonsponsor Gifts of Free Attendance at Widely Attended Gatherings
In addition, OGE is increasing from $285 to $305 the exception
ceiling for nonsponsor gifts of free attendance at widely attended
gatherings under the standards of ethical conduct regulation, as
codified at 5 CFR 2635.204(g)(2) (and as illustrated in the examples
following paragraph (g)). This separate regulatory change is effective
upon publication in the Federal Register, on March 11, 2005. As OGE
noted in the preambles to the proposed and final rules on such
nonsponsor gifts, that ceiling is based in part on the financial
disclosure gifts reporting threshold. See 60 FR 31416 (June 15, 1995)
and 61 FR 42968 (August 20, 1996). The nonsponsor gift ceiling was last
raised in the October 2002 OGE rulemaking noted in the preceding
paragraph above. Thus, it is reasonable now to again increase the
nonsponsor gift ceiling to match the further increase in the gifts/
travel reimbursements reporting thresholds. The other requirements for
acceptance of such nonsponsor gifts, including an agency interest
determination and expected attendance by more than 100 persons, remain unchanged.
Matters of Regulatory Procedure
Administrative Procedure Act
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b) and (d), as Acting Director of the Office of Government Ethics, I find good cause exists for waiving the general notice of proposed rulemaking, opportunity for public comment and 30day delay in effectiveness as to these technical updating amendments. The notice, comment and delayed effective date provisions are being waived in part because these technical amendments concern matters of agency organization, practice and procedure. Further, it is in the public interest that correct and uptodate information be contained in the affected sections of OGE's regulations as soon as possible. The increase in the reporting thresholds for gifts and reimbursements is based on a statutory formula and also lessens the reporting burden somewhat, and thus the effective date of that regulatory revision is being made retroactively effective to January 1, 2005, when the change became effective under the Ethics Act. [[Page 12112]]
Regulatory Flexibility Act
As Acting Director of the Office of Government Ethics, I certify under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) that this rulemaking will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it primarily affects Federal employees.
Paperwork Reduction Act
The Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35) does not apply because this amendatory rulemaking does not contain information collection requirements that require the approval of the Office of Management and Budget.
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
For purposes of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. chapter 25, subchapter II), the final rule will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments and will not result in increased expenditures by State, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more (as adjusted for inflation) in any one year.
Congressional Review Act
The Office of Government Ethics has determined that this amendatory rulemaking is a nonmajor rule under the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 8) and will submit a report thereon to the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and General Accounting Office in accordance with that law at the same time this rulemaking document is sent to the Office of the Federal Register for publication in the Federal Register. Executive Order 12866
In promulgating these technical amendments, OGE has adhered to the regulatory philosophy and the applicable principles of regulation set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review. These amendments have not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget under that Executive order, since they are not deemed ``significant'' thereunder.
Executive Order 12988
As Acting Director of the Office of Government Ethics, I have
reviewed this final amendatory regulation in light of section 3 of
Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, and certify that it meets the applicable standards provided therein.
List of Subjects
5 CFR Part 2634
Certificates of divestiture, Conflict of interests, Financial disclosure, Government employees, Penalties, Privacy, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Trusts and trustees.
5 CFR Part 2635
Conflict of interests, Executive branch standards of ethical conduct, Government employees.
Approved: March 4, 2005.
Marilyn L. Glynn,
Acting Director, Office of Government Ethics.
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Office of Government Ethics is amending 5 CFR parts 2634 and 2635 as follows:
PART 2634EXECUTIVE BRANCH FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE, QUALIFIED TRUSTS, AND CERTIFICATES OF DIVESTITURE
1. The authority citation for part 2634 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 5 U.S.C. App. (Ethics in Government Act of 1978); 26
U.S.C. 1043; Pub. L. 101410, 104 Stat. 890, 28 U.S.C. 2461 note
(Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990), as
amended by Sec. 31001, Pub. L. 104134, 110 Stat. 1321 (Debt
Collection Improvement Act of 1996); E.O. 12674, 54 FR 15159, 3 CFR,
1989 Comp., p. 215, as modified by E.O. 12731, 55 FR 42547, 3 CFR, 1990 Comp., p. 306.
Sec. 2634.304 [Amended]
2. Section 2634.304 is amended by:
a. Removing the dollar amount ``$285'' in paragraphs (a) and (b) and in example 1 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in each instance the dollar amount ``$305'';
b. Removing the dollar amount ``$114'' in paragraph (d) and in examples 1 and 2 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in each instance the dollar amount ``$122''; and
c. Removing the dollar amount ``$285'' in examples 3 and 4 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in each instance the dollar amount ``$305''.
PART 2635STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE
3. The authority citation for part 2635 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 5 U.S.C. 7301, 7351, 7353; 5 U.S.C. App. (Ethics in
Government Act of 1978); E.O. 12674, 54 FR 15159, 3 CFR, 1989 Comp.,
p. 215, as modified by E.O. 12731, 55 FR 42547, 3 CFR, 1990 Comp., p. 306.
Sec. 2635.204 [Amended]
4. Section 2635.204 is amended by:
a. Removing the dollar amount ``$285'' in paragraph (g)(2) and in examples 1 and 2 (in the latter of which it appears twice) following paragraph (g)(6) and adding in its place in each instance the dollar amount ``$305''; and
b. Removing the dollar amount ``$570'' in example 2 following paragraph (g)(6) and adding in its place the dollar amount ``$610''.
[FR Doc. 054879 Filed 31005; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 634502P
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
William E. Gressman, Senior Associate General Counsel, Office of Government Ethics; Telephone: 2024829300;