[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 191 (Wednesday, October 2, 2002)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 61761-61762]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-24961]



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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
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Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 191 / Wednesday, October 2, 2002 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 61761]]



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. In addition, OGE is similarly raising the widely 
attended gatherings nonsponsor gifts exception dollar ceiling under the 
executive branchwide standards of ethical conduct regulation.

DATES: The amendments to 5 CFR 2634.304 are retroactively effective to 
January 1, 2002, and the amendments to 5 CFR 2635.204 are effective 
October 2, 2002.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William E. Gressman, Senior Associate 
General Counsel, Office of Government Ethics, telephone: 202-208-8000, 
ext. 1110; TDD: 202-208-8025; FAX: 202-208-8037.

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 (the Standards), 
as codified at 5 CFR parts 2634 and 2635, in order to update them.

Increased Gifts and Travel Reimbursements Reporting Thresholds

    First, OGE is retroactively increasing, to January 1, 2002, the 
reporting thresholds for gifts, reimbursements and travel expenses in 
the OGE executive branchwide regulation at 5 CFR 2634.304 (and as 
illustrated in the four examples following paragraph (d) of that 
section) for both the public and confidential financial disclosure 
systems under section 102(a)(2)(A) & (B) of the Ethics in Government 
Act as amended, 5 U.S.C. app. Sec.  102(a)(2)(A) & (B), as extended to 
the executive branch confidential reporting system by 5 CFR 
2634.907(a)(3). The new reporting thresholds for gifts and travel 
reimbursements being retroactively incorporated in OGE's financial 
disclosure regulation are ``more than $285'' for the aggregation 
threshold for reporting and ``$114 or less'' for the de minimis 
exception for gifts and reimbursements which do not have to be counted 
towards the aggregate threshold (from the prior levels of more than 
$260 aggregate and $104 or less de minimis exception, respectively).
    These increases are brought about by a recent General Services 
Administration (GSA) rulemaking raising ``minimal value'' under the 
Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, 5 U.S.C. 7342, to ``$285 or less'' 
(from the prior level of $260 or less) for the three-year period 2002-
2004, since the Ethics Act and OGE regulatory gifts/travel 
reimbursements reporting thresholds are tied to any such increase in 
foreign gifts minimal value over $250. See GSA's rulemaking as 
published at 67 FR 56495-56496 (September 4, 2002), revising 
retroactively to January 1, 2002 the foreign gifts minimal value 
definition as codified at 41 CFR 102-42.10.
    The Office of Government Ethics will continue to adjust the gifts 
and travel reimbursements reporting thresholds in the future as needed 
in light of GSA's redefinition of ``minimal value'' every three years 
for foreign gifts purposes. See OGE's previous retroactive adjustment 
of those reporting thresholds as published at 65 FR 69655-69657 
(November 20, 2000) that was based on GSA's prior redefinition for the 
period 1999-2001.
    Moreover, OGE is also clarifying a couple of cross-references in 
examples 2 and 3 following paragraph (d) of Sec.  2634.304.

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

    In addition, OGE is increasing from $260 to $285 the exception 
ceiling for nonsponsor gifts of free attendance at widely attended 
gatherings under the standards of ethical conduct regulation, as 
codified at 5 CFR 2635.204(g)(2) (and as illustrated in several 
examples following paragraph (g)). This separate regulatory change is 
effective upon publication in the Federal Register, on October 2, 2002. 
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 November 2000 OGE rulemaking noted in the preceding 
paragraph above. Thus, it is reasonable now 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 updates and the 
correction. 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, and thus the effective date of that 
regulatory revision is being made retroactively effective to January

[[Page 61762]]

1, 2002, when the change became effective under the Ethics Act.

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.

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.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35) does not apply 
because this amendatory rulemaking does not contain information 
collection requirements that require the approval of the Office of 
Management and Budget.

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 has submitted a report thereon to the United 
States Senate, House of Representatives and General Accounting Office 
in accordance with that law.

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: September 25, 2002.
Amy L. Comstock,
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

    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.


    2. Section 2634.304 is amended by:
    a. Removing the dollar amount ``$260'' in paragraphs (a) and (b) 
and in example 1 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in 
each instance the dollar amount ``$285'';
    b. Removing the dollar amount ``$104'' in paragraph (d) and in 
examples 1 and 2 following paragraph (d) and adding in its place in 
each instance the dollar amount ``$114'';
    c. Removing the dollar amount ``$105'' in example 1 following 
paragraph (d) and adding in its place the dollar amount ``$145'';
    d. Removing the word ``exception'' and the regulatory citation 
``Sec.  2634.105(h)'' in examples 2 and 3 following paragraph (d) and 
adding in their place in each instance, respectively, the word 
``exclusion'' and the regulatory citation ``Sec.  2634.105(h)(4)''; and
    e. Removing the dollar amount ``$260'' in examples 3 and 4 
following paragraph (d) and adding in its place the dollar amount 
``$285''.

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

    3. 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.


    4. Section 2635.204 is amended by:
    a. Removing the dollar amount ``$260'' 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 ``$285''; and
    b. Removing the dollar amount ``$520'' in example 2 following 
paragraph (g)(6) and adding in its place the dollar amount ``$570''.

[FR Doc. 02-24961 Filed 10-1-02; 8:45 am]
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