[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 95 (Thursday, May 18, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 22735-22736]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-10012]



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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. 

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Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 95 / Thursday, May 18, 2017 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 22735]]



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.

ACTION: Final rule; technical amendments.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is updating its 
executive branch regulation on financial disclosure to reflect the 
retroactive statutory increase of the reporting thresholds for gifts 
and travel reimbursements. OGE is also raising the widely attended 
gatherings nonsponsor gifts exception dollar ceiling tied to this 
threshold under the executive branchwide standards of ethical conduct 
regulation, but this change is not retroactive.

DATES: Effective date: This final rule is effective May 18, 2017.
    Applicability date: The amendments to 5 CFR 2634.304 and 2634.907 
are applicable as of January 1, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patrick J. Lightfoot, Assistant 
Counsel, General Counsel and Legal Policy Division, Office of 
Government Ethics, Telephone: 202-482-9300; TTY: 800-877-8339; FAX: 
202-482-9237.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) 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, 2017, 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) and (B), (Ethics Act) 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 January 12, 2017, Federal Management Regulation Bulletin, GSA 
raised the ``minimal value'' under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations 
Act, 5 U.S.C. 7342, to $390 for the three-year period 2017-2019 (from 
the prior level of $375). See Gen. Servs. Admin., FMR B-41, Foreign 
Gift and Decoration Minimal Value (2017) (revising retroactively to 
January 1, 2017, 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 $390'' for the aggregation threshold for 
reporting and ``$156 or less'' for the de minimis exception for gifts 
and reimbursements that do not have to be counted towards the aggregate 
threshold. As noted, these regulatory increases implement the 
underlying statutory increases effective January 1, 2017.
    OGE will continue to adjust the gifts and travel reimbursements 
reporting threshold 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 79 FR 28605-
28606 (May 19, 2014) (for 2014-2016, the aggregate reporting level was 
more than $375, with a $150 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 $375 to $390, 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)(3) (and as illustrated in 
the examples following paragraph (g)). This separate regulatory change 
is effective upon publication in the Federal Register, on May 18, 2017. 
As OGE noted in the preambles to the proposed and final rules on such 
nonsponsor gifts, that ceiling is tied to the financial disclosure 
gifts reporting threshold. See 60 FR 31415-31418 (June 15, 1995) and 61 
FR 42965-42970 (August 20, 1996). The nonsponsor gift ceiling was last 
raised in the May 2014 OGE rulemaking noted in the preceding paragraph. 
Thus, OGE is again increasing 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.

II. Matters of Regulatory Procedure

Administrative Procedure Act

    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), as Director of the Office of 
Government Ethics, I find that good cause exists for waiving the 
general notice of proposed rulemaking and public comment procedures as 
to these technical amendments. The notice and comment procedures are 
being waived because these amendments concern matters of agency 
organization, procedure and practice. It is also in the public interest 
that the accurate 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 lessens the reporting burden. 
Therefore,

[[Page 22736]]

that regulatory revision is retroactively applicable as of January 1, 
2017, when the change became effective under the Ethics Act.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    As the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, I certify under 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) that this final 
rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities because it primarily affects current Federal 
executive branch employees.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35) does not apply 
because this regulation does not contain information collection 
requirements that require 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 5, subchapter II), this final rule would 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 13563 and Executive Order 12866

    Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select the regulatory approaches that 
maximize net benefits (including economic, environmental, public health 
and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 
13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, 
of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. 
In promulgating this rulemaking, OGE has adhered to the regulatory 
philosophy and the applicable principles of regulation set forth in 
Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. The rule has not been reviewed by the 
Office of Management and Budget because it is not a significant 
regulatory action for the purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Executive Order 12988

    As Director of the Office of Government Ethics, I have reviewed 
this rule 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, Government 
employees, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Trusts 
and trustees.

5 CFR Part 2635

    Conflict of interests, Executive branch standards of ethical 
conduct, Government employees.

    Approved: May 12, 2017.
Walter M. Shaub, Jr.,
Director, U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the U.S. 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) and Sec. 701, Pub. L. 114-74 
(Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act 
of 2015); 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.


Sec.  2634.304  [Amended]

0
2. Amend Sec.  2634.304 as follows:
0
a. Remove the dollar amount ``$375'' in paragraphs (a) and (b) and in 
examples 1, 3, and 4 following paragraph (d) and add in its place in 
each instance the dollar amount ``$390'';
0
b. Remove the dollar amount ``$150'' in paragraph (d) and in examples 1 
and 2 following paragraph (d) and add in its place in each instance the 
dollar amount ``$156''; and
0
c. Remove the dollar amount ``$190'' in example 3 following paragraph 
(d) and add in its place the dollar amount ``$200''.


Sec.  2634.907  [Amended]

0
3. Amend Sec.  2634.907 as follows:
0
a. Remove the dollar amount of ``$375'' in paragraphs (g)(1) and (2) 
and in the example to paragraph (g) and add in its place in each 
instance the dollar amount ``$390''; and
0
b. Remove the dollar amount ``$150'' in paragraph (g)(3) and in the 
example to paragraph (g) and add in its place in each instance the 
dollar amount ``$156''.

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.


Sec.  2635.204   [Amended]

0
5. Amend Sec.  2635.204 by removing the dollar amount ``$375'' in 
paragraph (g)(3)(iv) and in examples 1 and 4 following paragraph (g)(6) 
and add in its place in each instance the dollar amount ``$390''.

[FR Doc. 2017-10012 Filed 5-17-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6345-03-P