House Sets Up Tracking System for Staff Ethics Training

Posted April 30, 2010 at 4:36pm

In an attempt to better monitor whether House aides are completing their annual ethics training, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced this week it has launched an online tracking system.

“To streamline the certification process for House employees, the Committee has collaborated with the House Learning Center to provide employees with an online registration process for all ethics training,” ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and ranking member Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) wrote in an April 27 memorandum published Friday. “As part of the new online registration process, the Committee will be able to better track House employees’ compliance with the mandatory training requirement.”

Each House aide is required to fulfill one hour of ethics training annually, and senior aides must also complete one additional hour of training each Congress. Aides can opt to attend live lectures given by ethics committee staff, or watch online training videos to meet the requirement. New aides must complete the training within 60 days of their hiring.

The ethics panel will now require House aides to register online, using their House-issued identifications, before attending a live lecture or watching a training video.

Aides who attend a lecture must still sign in at the events, and they will receive an e-mail certification after the session. Those who opt for an online course will be able to check their status at the website HouseConnect.House.gov.

The new online process will replace paper certification forms previously required by the committee.

Although House rules adopted a new mandate in 2007 for the ethics panel to offer training for all Members, officers and employees, there is no requirement for lawmakers themselves to participate.

The memorandum published Friday also outlined annual deadlines — all training must be completed by Dec. 31 and verified by Jan. 31, 2011 — as well as potential sanctions for aides who fail to comply.

“It is a violation of House rules for House employees to fail to comply with the mandatory annual training and certification requirements. The committee is authorized to investigate alleged violations by House employees of standards of conduct applicable to their conduct,” the memorandum states.

The ethics panel lists dismissal, reprimand, fine and “publication of the employee’s name” among potential punishments.