Ethics in Government Act of 1978 Law and Legal Definition

Ethics in Government Act is a U.S. federal law passed in 1978 in the wake of the constitutional crisis surrounding the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon which prompted calls for ethics and openness in government

The Act established certain rules of conduct designed to reduce corruption and prevent the improper use of knowledge gained while in the government's employ for former federal employees. The Act requires public officials and higher-ranking civil servants to make public financial disclosures [5 USCS Appx § 103]. It prohibits certain activities by federal employees after their government employment ends.[ 5 USCS Appx § 502]. In addition, the act imposed limits on gifts and honoraria (payments at a set price for speeches or other services) and created new administrative procedures for enforcing ethics provisions. The Attorney General may bring a civil action in any appropriate United States district court against any individual who violates the provisions of the Act. The Attorney General may bring a civil action in any appropriate United States district court against any individual who violates any provision of the Act. [5 USCS Appx § 504]

The Act also created the Office of Government Ethics, an executive agency responsible for issuing rules and regulations about ethical conduct and financial disclosure, providing training in ethics, monitoring the ethics of practices in departments and agencies, and giving guidance on matters of ethics. [5 USCS Appx § 401]