The ACT Guide to Ethical Conflicts in Finance

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Code of Ethics B section 200-230

These reports contain information regarding personal financial interests, sources of income, gifts received, liabilities, agreements or arrangements concerning future employment, and non-Government positions held. Other DOT employees who serve in certain career positions are required to file c onfidential financial disclosure reports. The purpose of financial disclosure reports is to provide assurance that reporting individuals are in compliance with applicable ethics laws and regulations.

Financial disclosure reports are required upon entry into Government service or upon occupying a position that requires filing a financial disclosure report. Thereafter, financial disclosure reports must be filed on an annual basis. Public financial disclosure reports must be filed annually by May Confidential financial disclosure reports must be filed annually by February DOT senior officials and other employees who serve in non-career positions must also file a financial disclosure report upon completion of Government service. The DOT Ethics Program has four basic components: ethics training, advice and counseling including post employment advice to former employees , financial disclosure reporting, and administration, including enforcement.


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Responsibilities of Key Officials. The Secretary of Transportation is responsible for and exercises personal leadership in establishing and carrying out the DOT Ethics Program. Ethics Training.

210 Professional Appointment

Initial ethics orientations are conducted upon entry into Government service. Thereafter, ethics training sessions are conducted annually. Initial ethics orientations concentrate on the principles in the Standards of Ethical Conduct. Annual ethics training includes a review of the Standards of Ethical Conduct as well as a discussion of specific ethics and related matters of current interest. Advice and Counseling. Employee advice and counseling sessions are generally done on an individual basis. Sessions are done as needed and upon request.

Questions that employees most commonly ask relate to potential conflicts of interest, negotiating for employment after Government service, and acceptance of gifts, e. Post Employment. Advice on post employment matters is available to former employees upon request. Former employees often have questions about whether they can represent new employers before DOT or other Government agencies.

The post employment law in 18 U. Financial Disclosure. Public financial disclosure reports are filed annually by May 15 in the Integrity. Confidential financial disclosure reports are filed annually by February Financial disclosure reports are also filed upon entry into a position requiring a financial disclosure report and public reports must also be filed upon completion of Government service in that position. DOT employees who file confidential financial disclosure reports include career employees who participate in, e. Generally, administrative enforcement of ethics infractions is handled by the DOT organization that employs the individual to which the enforcement action relates.

The OIG maintains a Hotline for reporting allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption, including allegations relating to conflicts of interest and other ethics infractions. The Hotline is available 24 hours per day to Federal employees, contractors, and the general public. Prosecuting alleged criminal violations is the responsibility of the U. Overview DOT employees must adhere to specific standards of ethical conduct. What Are You Looking For? The Standards of Ethical Conduct: Prohibit employees from holding financial interests that conflict with the performance of duty.

By , 22 states had them, many created by constitutional amendment, and today, 41 states have ethics commissions. Utah voters established the most recent commission last year through a constitutional amendment referred by the Legislature. Smith at Clemson University thinks they are. Many similarities exist among state commissions, but there are significant differences in jurisdictions, membership, enforcement and the complaint process. In addition to elected and appointed officials, commissions also may have oversight of staff, candidates or lobbyists.

There have been two recent challenges to the authority of ethics commissions. In Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan, the U.

Tight budgets exacerbate the tensions that often exist between the legislature and the commissions as lawmakers look for any opportunity to trim spending. Saving money is one of the reasons lawmakers in North Carolina and Washington, and the governor of Connecticut, propose combining the functions of the state ethics commissions, lobbying and campaign finance regulatory entities into single oversight agencies.

Megan Comlossy is an intern with the center. Like it or not, lobbying is important to the legislative process. Although the public may view lobbying negatively, not all lobbyists are paid hired guns. They can be average citizens who are simply expressing their views. One thing is certain: The way lobbying is done affects the ethical culture of the institution. The American League of Lobbyists, a national organization for lobbyists and public policy professionals, updated its Code of Lobbying Ethics in to more thoroughly outline the guidelines and describe the standards for conduct.

These guidelines include conducting lobbying activities with honesty and integrity, avoiding conflicts of interest, educating the public about lobbying, and exhibiting proper respect for government institutions. Members of the league forfeit their membership if found guilty of a moral crime or of violating a law directly related to any professional lobbying or political campaign activity. In addition, the league offers the Lobbying Certification Program, which consists of 11 classes that cover essential elements of lobbying, including ethics.

Many state lobbying organizations use this model or have adopted similar codes. By Peggy Kerns How much can one person influence the ethical culture of a legislature? Do Ethics Laws Work? By Peggy Kerns When scandals erupt, legislatures pass laws. Ethics Commissions by the Numbers 42 Can investigate complaints against public officials and lobbyists. Commissions Restore Trust By Megan Comlossy and Peggy Kerns Those who serve on ethics committees, commissions or boards have the unenviable job of enforcing ethics laws over public officials who often have created the boards, but would rather not be regulated by them.

Ethical Lobbying Is Not an Oxymoron Like it or not, lobbying is important to the legislative process. Their study might contain survivorship bias, but since non-ethical funds and ethical funds should be affected in the same way, this was not seen as problematic. They use log returns to reduce the effect of skewness in the return distribution.

Mill also finds no difference in performance between SRI and conventional funds. What is exceptional in his study is that he compares data for only one fund that has switched its investment style from conventional to SRI. Amenc and Le Sourd , focusing on France, look at — and cannot find any outperformance by ethical indices and ethical mutual funds over their conventional alternatives.

Researching European ethical fund portfolios between and , Cengiz et al. Their fund portfolios are split into three clusters: principle-oriented negative screening approach combined with positive criteria , best-in-class approach and ecology—climate—environment. They conclude that none of their analyzed clusters could beat the benchmark.

How Organizations Shape Individuals’ Behavior

Only the principle-oriented cluster is little behind its benchmark, while the other two clusters fall well behind. Besides the Hamilton et al. Haigh and Hazelton , for example, find that Australian SRI funds are invested in of the largest companies. The second hypothesis by Hamilton et al. This is supported by Rudd , who argues along the lines of classical portfolio theory. The possibility of uncompensated risk in a socially screened portfolio is also mentioned by Kurtz ; it is perceived to be one of the largest obstacles to SRI implementation. This argument is supported by Luther et al.

Cowton argues that it seems likely that SRI fund returns are smaller than those of the various mainstream funds, because mainstream investors could build the same portfolio as SR investors, but not vice versa. Mueller tests ten mutual funds with ethical restrictions and finds significant underperformance compared to conventional funds in this category.

In his study, Teper et seq. Furthermore he compares a South Africa-free portfolio, a sin-free portfolio without alcohol, tobacco and gambling stocks , a portfolio without major defense contractors, and a portfolio that eliminates birth control manufacturers. Gregory et al. Kahn et al. In his study, Tippet shows significant underperformance of the three major Australian ethical mutual funds between and compared to their benchmarks.

He holds higher transaction costs and management fees responsible for this underperformance. Finally, Geczy et al. The following papers find empirical evidence for higher-than-expected SRI portfolio returns: One of the initial motivations for SRI was the late apartheid regime in South Africa. This led to a global discussion of whether investments in companies doing business in or with South Africa should be excluded.

Grossman and Sharpe examine the effect of divestments from South African companies to receive more ethical investment results. They find that portfolios without South Africa-related companies show superior returns, at the same level of risk, compared to conventional funds. Luther et al. However, they consider their results as limited on the basis of being too varied, as well as too closely correlated with low yields to allow for any relation between returns and ethical effects in SRI portfolios. They also find a small company bias and low dividend yields for their screened portfolios.

In their study covering the years —, Mallin et al. They find that ethical trust funds outperform non-ethical trust funds, but both perform worse than the market. In , they reevaluated their previous study, looking at differences in allocation strategies and compared mixed equity and debt SRI portfolios with their conservative benchmarks.

USGS Ethics Office

They look at different investment strategies—such as the buy and hold approach, constant mix, and constant proportion—and find significant outperformance on a strict return basis for all strategies. One drawback of this study is the relatively short time frame. Epstein and Schnietz divide the Fortune index into three separate groups—environmentally abusive firms, labor-abusive firms and the rest—and look at a specific point in time: the failure of the WTO talks. They find that, around this event, the first two groups performed significantly poorer than the remaining portfolio.

In a study of —, Derwall et al. Furthermore, Gompers et al. In their study, they set up a governance index, ranking 1, firms according to their shareholder rights.