If the office recommends further review, the committee must typically release a report on the OCE's findings after a 45-day period, which can be extended by another 45 days, unless it forms an investigative subcommittee to look into the matter.
The office opened 69 cases during the 111th Congress and sent 22 to the Ethics Committee for further review. At least 32 preliminary reviews have commenced during the 112th Congress, and 10 of those needed further review by the committee. The reports on at least 32 lawmakers and House staffers have already or will eventually be released to the public.
Though the Ethics Committee would likely have undertaken some of the same investigations on its own, the OCE has, in the eyes of its supporters, restored integrity to a Congressional ethics process that had become broken.
"It's done what it was supposed to do, which was bring credibility back," said Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), who chaired the task force.
The office has also shed sunlight on an ethics process that was previously shrouded in mystery. "The OCE lifts the curtain a bit," McGehee said.
And now the curtain has been lifted, ethics observers don't want to see it closed.
The OCE needs its board to vote on opening and referring cases. It took Boehner and Pelosi more than four months in 2008 to get the board in place, and Holman and others want to get the replacement process started.
Waiting to take the issue up after the elections is getting "dangerously late," Holman said.