OGE’s Twitter feed has the blandness to be expected of an organization with its mission, but it does provide some value.
This website is transitioning to EthicsTrainingForum.org. The name better describes the desired goal, improved cooperation between ethics trainers.
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.
Is mandatory ethics training a good idea? Is this just another way bureaucrats waste time? Well, not really. The recent story that Reuters has begun requiring all its reporters to take ethics training caught our eye, but this is only one of many private companies to require ethics training.
In fact, there is a whole cottage industry of private companies that specialize in providing ethics training. As one, Inspired eLearning explains:
Enron is perhaps the most highly publicized case of corporate malfeasance in recent memory. The actions of Enron executives collapsed a company, sent individuals to jail and saddled them with hefty fines, cost shareholders an estimated $43 billion in losses and led to catastrophic losses for Enron employees, many of whom had their entire retirement savings tied up in company stock.
In the wake of Enron’s spectacular collapse, a copy of the Enron code of ethics was one of the hotter items offered for sale on eBay. “Never been opened,” quipped a seller and former Enron employee whose unopened policy proved that having a code of conduct is not enough.
If your company has a written code of conduct, you’ve taken a critical first step toward preventing ethics and compliance lapses. But printing copies of your code and posting them or passing them out to employees is not enough. To be effective, a code of conduct must be part of a larger effort to promote company-wide compliance with the code.
Amen. It’s absolutely not enough to have ethics rules. More is needed, whether in the public or private sector.
OGE’s YouTube Channel is one of their more aggressive and significant initiatives in recent years. Many streaming videos are available, including some chestnuts like “The Battle for Avery Mann” that will be familiar to old timers and some valuable newer products.
The 2010 Training Awards video is one of the smartest additions. It’s not the most dynamic imaginable, but it doesn’t need to be. There is tremendous value in highlighting innovative approaches. Including the name and phone number of a contact at each prize-winning agency makes it easier for the good ideas to spread. It’s also great to give the best performers a pat on the back and provide a goal to other ambitious ethics trainers. Good job!
The government alleged that shortly before [Chief Financial Officer] Ostermeyer retired from USAID, he helped the agency draft a contract solicitation for a senior advisor – a position that Ostermeyer intended to apply for after he retired. In an effort to ensure he would be awarded the position, Ostermeyer allegedly tailored the solicitation to his specific skills and experiences.
Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit executive branch employees from participating personally and substantially in matters in which they have a financial interest. Since Ostermeyer had a financial interest in the contract solicitation, the government alleged that he could not participate in drafting it and, therefore, violated 18 U.S.C. § 208(a).
This type of news story can make a fantastic lead-in for training, showing the audience the relevance of the topic and inducing a “There but for the grace of God go I” feeling that makes it more likely they will give your presentation the attention it deserves.
Questions: Your Answer to Great Presentations, an article by law librarian Marie Wallace archived at the LLRX.com website has some good ideas on effective Q&A sessions, including:
[S]tart weaving questions throughout your presentations. Learn to use them in the analysis, objectives, design, delivery and evaluation phases of your presentation design (see A Model for Training and Improving Performance). Questions are versatile and can serve many functions – get attention, stimulate interest, prompt feedback, make issues memorable, foster audience interaction, provoke thought.
Presentations Magazine is a great source of information on presentation techniques. Its primary focus is on commercial presenters, like salesmen, but most of the advice applies just as well to federal ethics trainers.
Would you like to improve your PowerPoint skills? The excellent Office for Lawyers website has information about all components of Microsoft’s flagship office productivity, including the PowerPoint section. It has links to a wealth of resources, including sites that provide free templates to freshen up your slides.
The Department of Defense SOCO Ethics Counselor’s Deskbook describes itself as “A hornbook and “how to” for Standards of Conduct in the Department of Defense.” This description is a little misleading, since most of this valuable reference is just as valuable for ethics counselors in civilian agencies.
There’s a wealth of useful information here. One component is particularly timely: The recent strong Congressional interest in conferences means makes it advisable to be familiar with the manual and slide show on ethical issues involving conferences.
It looks like DoD SOCO obtained most or all of the manuals from the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the Army’s excellent school for lawyers, but this just shows SOCO’s good judgment: If you are going to borrow, borrow from the best.