Technical Updating Amendments to Executive Branch Financial Disclosure and Standards of Ethical Conduct Regulations, 38547-38548 [2011-16642]

Download as PDF 38547 Rules and Regulations Federal Register Vol. 76, No. 127 Friday, July 1, 2011 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510. The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. Prices of new books are listed in the first FEDERAL REGISTER issue of each week. 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). mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES ACTION: Final rule; technical amendments. 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. DATES: The rule is effective July 1, 2011. The amendments to 5 CFR 2634.304 and 2634.907 (as set forth in amendatory paragraphs 2 and 3) are retroactively applicable as of January 1, 2011. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elaine Newton, Attorney-Advisor, Office of Government Ethics; Telephone: 202–482–9300; TTY: 800– 877–8339; 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. Increased Gifts and Travel Reimbursements Reporting Thresholds First, OGE is revising its executive branch financial disclosure regulation at VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:02 Jun 30, 2011 Jkt 223001 5 CFR part 2634 applicable as of January 1, 2011 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 ‘‘$350 or less’’ (from the prior level of $335 or less) for the three-year period 2011–2013. See 76 FR 30550– 30551(May 26, 2011), revising retroactively to January 1, 2011, 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 $350’’ for the aggregation threshold for reporting and ‘‘$140 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 effective 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 73 FR 15387–15388 (March 24, 2008) (for 2008–2010, the aggregate reporting level was more than $335, with a $134 or less de minimis exception). PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Increased Dollar Ceiling for the Exception for Nonsponsor Gifts of Free Attendance at Widely Attended Gatherings In addition, OGE is increasing from $335 to $350 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 July 1, 2011. 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 2008 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 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 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 upto-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, 2011, E:\FR\FM\01JYR1.SGM 01JYR1 38548 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 127 / Friday, July 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations when the change became effective under the Ethics Act. List of Subjects Regulatory Flexibility Act Certificates of divestiture, Conflict of interests, Financial disclosure, Government employees, Penalties, Privacy, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Trusts and trustees. 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 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 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 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. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:02 Jun 30, 2011 Jkt 223001 B. Removing the dollar amount ‘‘$134’’ in paragraph (g)(3) and in the example to paragraph (g) and adding in its place in each instance the dollar amount ‘‘$140’’. ■ 5 CFR Part 2634 5 CFR Part 2635 Conflict of interests, Executive branch standards of ethical conduct, Government employees. Approved: June 27, 2011. Don W. Fox, 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 2635—STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH 4. 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 § 2635.204 [Amended] ■ 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. 5. Section 2635.204 is amended by: A. Removing the dollar amount ‘‘$335’’ 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 ‘‘$350’’; and ■ B. Removing the dollar amount ‘‘$670’’ in example 2 following paragraph (g)(6) and adding in its place the dollar amount ‘‘$700’’. [FR Doc. 2011–16642 Filed 6–30–11; 8:45 am] PART 2634—EXECUTIVE BRANCH FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE, QUALIFIED TRUSTS, AND CERTIFICATES OF DIVESTITURE 1. The authority citation for part 2634 continues to read as follows: Subpart C—Contents of Public Reports § 2634.304 [Amended] 2. Section 2634.304 is amended by: A. Removing the dollar amount ‘‘$335’’ 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 ‘‘$350’’; ■ B. Removing the dollar amount ‘‘$134’’ in paragraph (d) and in examples 1 and 2 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in each instance the dollar amount ‘‘$140’’; and ■ C. Removing the dollar amounts ‘‘$170’’ and ‘‘$335’’ in example 3 following paragraph (d) and adding in their place the dollar amounts ‘‘$180’’ and ‘‘$350’’, respectively. ■ ■ Subpart I—Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports § 2634.907 [Amended] 3. Section 2634.907 is amended by: A. Removing the dollar amount ‘‘$335’’ 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 ‘‘$350’’; and ■ ■ PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 ■ ■ BILLING CODE 6345–03–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE National Institute of Food and Agriculture 7 CFR Part 3430 [0524–AA61] Competitive and Noncompetitive Nonformula Federal Assistance Programs—Administrative Provisions for Biomass Research and Development Initiative; Technical Amendments AGENCY: National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. ACTION: Final rule; technical amendments. SUMMARY: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published in the Federal Register of June 17, 2011, a document adopting as final an interim rule published June 14, 2010, which contained a set of specific administrative requirements for the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). This document contains minor changes to those regulations. DATES: E:\FR\FM\01JYR1.SGM Effective on July 1, 2011. 01JYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 127 (Friday, July 1, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 38547-38548]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-16642]



========================================================================
Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents 
having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed 
to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published 
under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.

The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. 
Prices of new books are listed in the first FEDERAL REGISTER issue of each 
week.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 127 / Friday, July 1, 2011 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 38547]]



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.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

DATES: The rule is effective July 1, 2011. The amendments to 5 CFR 
2634.304 and 2634.907 (as set forth in amendatory paragraphs 2 and 3) 
are retroactively applicable as of January 1, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elaine Newton, Attorney-Advisor, 
Office of Government Ethics; Telephone: 202-482-9300; TTY: 800-877-
8339; 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.

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, 2011 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 ``$350 or less'' 
(from the prior level of $335 or less) for the three-year period 2011-
2013. See 76 FR 30550-30551(May 26, 2011), revising retroactively to 
January 1, 2011, 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 $350'' for the aggregation threshold for 
reporting and ``$140 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 effective 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 73 FR 15387-
15388 (March 24, 2008) (for 2008-2010, the aggregate reporting level 
was more than $335, with a $134 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 $335 to $350 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 July 1, 2011. 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 2008 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 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 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-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, 2011,

[[Page 38548]]

when the change became effective under the Ethics Act.

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 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 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: June 27, 2011.
Don W. Fox,
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 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. Section 2634.304 is amended by:
0
A. Removing the dollar amount ``$335'' 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 ``$350'';
0
B. Removing the dollar amount ``$134'' in paragraph (d) and in examples 
1 and 2 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in each 
instance the dollar amount ``$140''; and
0
C. Removing the dollar amounts ``$170'' and ``$335'' in example 3 
following paragraph (d) and adding in their place the dollar amounts 
``$180'' and ``$350'', respectively.

Subpart I--Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports


Sec.  2634.907  [Amended]

0
3. Section 2634.907 is amended by:
0
A. Removing the dollar amount ``$335'' 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 ``$350''; and
0
B. Removing the dollar amount ``$134'' in paragraph (g)(3) and in the 
example to paragraph (g) and adding in its place in each instance the 
dollar amount ``$140''.

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

0
4. 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
5. Section 2635.204 is amended by:
0
A. Removing the dollar amount ``$335'' 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 ``$350''; and
0
B. Removing the dollar amount ``$670'' in example 2 following paragraph 
(g)(6) and adding in its place the dollar amount ``$700''.

[FR Doc. 2011-16642 Filed 6-30-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6345-03-P