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:
House resolution establishing the OCE in each Congress
Original resolution establishing the OCE, passed March 11, 2008
Special Task Force that led to OCE’s creation
OCE Rules for Investigations
OCE Rules governing conduct of the Board and staff
House Ethics Resources
Rules governing conduct of all House employees
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)