[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 57 (Monday, March 24, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 15387-15388]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-5484]



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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
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Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 57 / Monday, March 24, 2008 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 15387]]



OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS

5 CFR Parts 2634 and 2635

RINs 3209-AA00 and 3209-AA04


Technical Updating Amendments to Executive Branch Financial 
Disclosure and Standards of Ethical Conduct Regulations

AGENCY: Office of Government Ethics (OGE).

ACTION: Final rule; technical amendments.

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SUMMARY: 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. As a matter of regulatory policy, OGE is also raising 
the widely attended gatherings nonsponsor gifts exception dollar 
ceiling under the executive branchwide standards of ethical conduct 
regulation, but this change is not retroactive. Finally, OGE is also 
correcting a typographical error in an unrelated provision of the 
financial disclosure regulation.

DATES: This rule is effective March 24, 2008. The amendments to 5 CFR 
2634.304 and 2634.907 (as set forth in amendatory paragraphs 2 and 4) 
are retroactively applicable as of January 1, 2008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William E. Gressman, Senior Associate 
General Counsel, Office of Government Ethics; Telephone: 202-482-9300; 
TDD: 202-482-9293; FAX: 202-482-9237.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Office of Government Ethics is amending 
pertinent sections of its executive branchwide ethics regulations on 
financial disclosure and standards of ethical conduct, as codified at 5 
CFR parts 2634 and 2635, in order to update certain reporting and other 
thresholds, as well as to correct one typographical error in the 
wording of an unrelated section of part 2634 (Sec.  2634.803(d)).

Increased Gifts and Travel Reimbursements Reporting Thresholds

    First, OGE is revising its executive branch financial disclosure 
regulation at 5 CFR part 2634, applicable as of January 1, 2008 to 
reflect the increased reporting thresholds for gifts, reimbursements 
and travel expenses for both the public and confidential executive 
branch financial disclosure systems. These increases conform to the 
statutorily mandated public disclosure reporting thresholds under 
section 102(a)(2)(A) & (B) of the Ethics in Government Act as amended, 
5 U.S.C. app. section 102(a)(2)(A) & (B), and are extended to 
confidential disclosure reporting by OGE's regulation. Under the Ethics 
Act, the gifts and reimbursements reporting thresholds are tied to the 
dollar amount for the ``minimal value'' threshold for foreign gifts as 
the General Services Administration (GSA) periodically redefines it.
    In a recent rulemaking, GSA raised ``minimal value'' under the 
Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, 5 U.S.C. 7342, to ``$335 or less'' 
(from the prior level of $305 or less) for the three-year period 2008-
2010. See 73 FR 7475 (February 8, 2008), revising (retroactively 
applicable as of January 1, 2008) the foreign gifts minimal value 
definition as codified at 41 CFR 102-42.10.
    Accordingly, applicable as of that same date, OGE is increasing the 
thresholds for reporting of gifts and travel reimbursements from any 
one source in 5 CFR 2634.304 and 2634.907(g) (and as illustrated in the 
examples following those sections, including appropriate adjustments to 
gift values therein) of its executive branch financial disclosure 
regulation to ``more than $335'' for the aggregation threshold for 
reporting and ``$134 or less'' for the de minimis exception for gifts 
and reimbursements which do not have to be counted towards the 
aggregate threshold. As noted, these regulatory increases just reflect 
the underlying statutory increases applicable as of January 1 of this 
year.
    OGE will continue to adjust the gifts and travel reimbursements 
reporting thresholds in its part 2634 regulation in the future as 
needed in light of GSA's redefinition of ``minimal value'' every three 
years for foreign gifts purposes. See OGE's prior three-year adjustment 
of those regulatory reporting thresholds, as published at 70 FR 12111-
12112 (March 11, 2005) (for 2005-2007, the aggregate reporting level 
was more than $305, with a $122 or less de minimis exception).

Increased Dollar Ceiling for the Exception for Nonsponsor Gifts of Free 
Attendance at Widely Attended Gatherings

    In addition, OGE is increasing from $305 to $335 the exception 
ceiling for nonsponsor gifts of free attendance at widely attended 
gatherings under the executive branch standards of ethical conduct 
regulation, as codified at 5 CFR 2635.204(g)(2) (and as illustrated in 
the examples following paragraph (g); a sum total value in one example 
is also being adjusted accordingly). This separate regulatory change is 
effective upon publication in the Federal Register, on March 24, 2008. 
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 March 2005 OGE rulemaking noted in the preceding 
paragraph above. Thus, it is reasonable 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 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 30-
day 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 up-

[[Page 15388]]

to-date 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. Therefore, that 
regulatory revision is being made retroactively effective January 1, 
2008, when the change became effective under the Ethics Act.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    As 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 itself 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), this 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 Government Accountability 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 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 11, 2008.
Robert I. Cusick,
Director, Office of Government Ethics.


0
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Office of Government 
Ethics is amending 5 CFR parts 2634 and 2635 as follows:

PART 2634--EXECUTIVE BRANCH FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE, QUALIFIED TRUSTS, 
AND CERTIFICATES OF DIVESTITURE

0
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. 101-410, 104 Stat. 890, 28 U.S.C. 2461 note 
(Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990), as 
amended by Sec. 31001, Pub. L. 104-134, 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.

Subpart C--Contents of Public Reports


Sec.  2634.304  [Amended]

0
2. Applicable January 1, 2008, Sec.  2634.304 is amended by:
0
A. Removing the dollar amount ``$305'' in paragraphs (a) and (b) and in 
examples 1 and 4 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in 
each instance the dollar amount ``$335'';
0
B. Removing the dollar amount ``$122'' in paragraph (d) and in examples 
1 and 2 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in each 
instance the dollar amount ``$134'';
0
C. Removing the dollar amount ``$145'' in example 1 following paragraph 
(d) and adding in its place the dollar amount ``$185'';
0
D. Removing the dollar amounts ``$150'' and ``$305'' in example 3 
following paragraph (d) and adding in their place the dollar amounts 
``$170'' and ``$335'', respectively; and
0
E. Removing the dollar amounts ``$285'' and ``$300'' in the example to 
paragraph (f)(1) and adding in their place the dollar amounts ``$385'' 
and ``$400'', respectively.

Subpart H--Ethics Agreements


Sec.  2634.803  [Corrected]

0
3. The first sentence of paragraph (d) of Sec.  2634.803 is corrected 
by adding the word ``an'' between the words ``into'' and ``ethics''.

Subpart I--Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports


Sec.  2634.907  [Amended]

0
4. Applicable January 1, 2008, Sec.  2634.907 is amended by:
0
A. Removing the dollar amount ``$305'' in paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2) 
and in the example to paragraph (g) and adding in its place in each 
instance the dollar amount ``$335''; and
0
B. Removing the dollar amount ``$122'' in paragraph (g)(3) and in the 
example to paragraph (g) and adding in its place in each instance the 
dollar amount ``$134''.

PART 2635--STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE 
EXECUTIVE BRANCH

0
5. 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.

Subpart B--Gifts From Outside Sources


Sec.  2635.204  [Amended]

0
6. Section 2635.204 is amended by:
0
A. Removing the dollar amount ``$305'' 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 ``$335''; and
0
B. Removing the dollar amount ``$610'' in example 2 following paragraph 
(g)(6) and adding in its place the dollar amount ``$670''.

 [FR Doc. E8-5484 Filed 3-21-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6345-02-P