Biden’s Ethics Plan Earns First Victory for Accountability Reform Advocates

This post from Open The Government originally appeared here.

January 22, 2021

Washington, D.C. —  By signing an executive order on ethics commitments for the executive branch on his first day in office, President Joe Biden demonstrated the importance of structural ethics reforms that protect the public interest rather than public officials’ gain.

The executive order is a major victory for accountability experts from across the political spectrum, who in 2020 developed the ethics recommendations in Accountability 2021.

Convened by Open The Government, the Accountability 2021 initiative was created by a broad coalition of good government, democracy reform, anti-corruption, and civil rights organizations as a roadmap designed to help the new administration address gaps in oversight laws and practices that, combined with the Trump’s administration’s disdain for ethical norms against conflicts of interest and self-dealing, created a historic crisis in our democracy.

The initiative called on the president to issue a strong executive order on Day One to elevate ethics as a core value in the executive branch. President Biden did just that, and advocates will look to his administration to continue making ethics reform a priority.

“Unethical behavior by government officials has contributed to the public’s deep distrust of government. President Biden’s ethics plan sends a strong message that his administration is committed to reversing course by instilling a culture of ethics from the top down,” said Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open The Government.

“We are thrilled Biden recognized the value of the practical yet transformational ethics solutions mapped out in Accountability 2021 and encourage the new administration to adopt more of the recommendations to repairour democratic foundations, and help rebuild them so that our institutions serve us all better than at any time (or administration) in the past,” said Rosenberg.

Below are several of the ethics recommendations in Accountability 2021 reflected in Biden’s Day One actions:

The Biden administration also committed to other Day One and short-term Accountability 2021 recommendations, including:

A summary of the broader recommendations mapped out in Accountability 2021 for the new administration is available here.