JULY 22, 2011
While President Obama pushes to increase taxes for Americans, his Office of Government Ethicsis planning a taxpayer-funded “conference” at a famously luxurious golf and spa resort in Florida.Uncle Sam will fly hundreds of federal employees—charged with fostering high ethical standards in government—from Washington D.C. to the world-renowned Orlando resort, which is famous for its lush, perfectly landscaped grounds, a 7,000-yard championship golf course and a lagoon-like setting with six tropical pools, waterfalls. a water slide and whirlpools.The OGE is encouraging all employees with “ethics-related duties” to attend the September event, which has been crowned “Organizational Integrity: A Shared Responsibility.”Issues that fall within the OGE’s jurisdiction will be discussed, according to a bulletin, as will topics that intersect with ethics rules and regulations. What exactly does this mumbo jumbo really mean?Here are some examples of the pressing issues that can only be addressed at a golf and spa resort hundreds of miles away from the office. Sessions will cover social media and gifts, presumably the sort that government officials have long been banned from receiving. One workshop on the agenda will reveal how to “develop agency-wide support for the ethics program”An exhibit hall will feature winners of the Excellence and Innovation Awards and presentations from government agencies on how to “overcome challenges” in areas such as training, management and communications. The winner of the Ethics Awareness Poster Contest will also be crowned and attendees will participate in a reality game created to enrich the conference experience. In an effort to go green, this year’s conference has its own mobile application and website. Because there is so much material to cover (or perhaps to spend more time playing golf and sunbathing) the conference has been expanded from 2 ½ days to three.It may seem bizarre that the agency responsible for government ethics is organizing this sort of event during a dire financial crisis to address such ridiculous matters. After all, the OGE, which operates within the executive branch, is supposed to strengthen the public’s confidence that the government’s business is conducted with impartiality and integrity
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