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The OCE has jurisdiction to investigate any alleged violation of a “law, rule, regulation, or other standard of conduct” committed by a “Member, officer, or employee of the House” on or after March 11, 2008.  Information about alleged violations comes to the Board from a range of sources, including the public. After completing the time allowed for its investigation, the OCE Board decides what to recommend to the Committee on Ethics: further review or dismissal.  The Committee on Ethics then decides whether to conduct further investigation, impose sanctions, or dismiss the matter. Except when the OCE Board recommends dismissal, the Committee must eventually release the OCE’s report and findings.

The OCE’s investigations have two stages: (1) a preliminary review, which is completed in 30 days; and, (2) a second-phase review which is completed in 45 days, with the possibility of a 14 day extension. The Board must authorize each preliminary and second-phase review. At the end of any second phase review, the Board must recommend to the Ethics Committee either that the matter requires the Committee’s further review or that it should dismiss the matter. When it makes its recommendation, the OCE Board may also transmit to the Ethics Committee a report that includes, among other things, findings of fact and citations to laws, rules or regulations that may have been violated.

The OCE has been reauthorized by House Rules each congress. Here are the applicable law, code and rules that apply to OCE’s founding and operations:

OCE’s Foundation

House resolution establishing the OCE in each Congress

H. Res. 5 of the 118th Congress

H. Res. 8 of the 117th Congress

H. Res. 6 of the 116th Congress

H. Res. 5 of the 115th Congress

H. Res. 5 of the 114th Congress

H. Res. 5 of the 113th Congress

H. Res. 5 of the 112th Congress

H. Res. 5 of the 111th Congress

Original resolution establishing the OCE, passed March 11, 2008

H. Res. 895: Establishing within the House of Representatives an Office of Congressional Ethics

Congressional Research Service Summary of H. Res. 895

Special Task Force that led to OCE’s creation

Report of the Democratic Members of the Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement

OCE Rules for Investigations

OCE Rules for the Conduct of Investigations

OCE Rules governing conduct of the Board and staff

Office of Congressional Ethics Code of Conduct

House Ethics Resources

Rules governing conduct of all House employees

United States House of Representatives Code of Official Conduct

Guidance for interpreting rules can be found in the House Ethics Manual

Government Ethics Links

Ethics rules are enforced at both the federal and state level and each branch of the federal government has offices in place to promote ethical behavior and investigate allegations of ethical misconduct. Here are resources to learn more about ethics in the federal government:

United States House of Representatives
 (Main Page)

House Committee on Ethics

Directory of the United States House of Representatives

Senate Select Committee on Ethics

State Ethics Oversight Agencies

Federal Inspectors General