The Government Accountability Office has called on the Office of Government Ethics to determine whether other federal agencies have experienced difficulties in reporting data on special government employees who do not serve on federal boards.
GAO made the recommendation after it found that the Department of Health and Human Services, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the State Department encountered challenges on how to differentiate SGEs on federal boards from those who are not, the congressional audit agency said in a report released Monday.
“Weak internal coordination and misunderstanding about the SGE designation contributed to the identification challenges,” GAO said in the report.
“Stronger data would better position agencies to report on SGEs and provide the required ethics training.”
According to the report, federal agencies hired an annual average of approximately 2,000 SGEs between 2005 and 2014 and that approximately 3 percent of 40,424 SGEs were not on federal boards and served as consultants as of December 2014.
GAO also found that agencies hire SGEs to serve in specialized areas, such as the Justice Department’s recruitment of a compensation fund attorney in support of a 9/11 victim and employment of professionals by the National Science Foundation to perform scientific research work.
Three of the five selected federal agencies – HHS, DOJ, State Department, NRC, NSF – tapped consultants to hire non-federal board serving SGEs, while the other two used their agency-specific authorities to appoint such employees, the report added.