Environmental Factor, September 2011, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NIEHS Ethics Program nominated for excellence award
Prior to joining NIEHS in 2009, Androphy was the executive director of the Tennessee Ethics Commission, where he oversaw its operations and mission, while serving as an advisor for Commission members. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
The NIEHS Ethics Program is being recognized by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE)(http://www.usoge.gov/) for its highly successful Ethics Day event May 25 in Rodbell Auditorium (see story(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2011/july/spotlight-ethics/index.cfm)). Presented annually to federal agencies that demonstrate exemplary ethical standards, the award recognizes the superior performance of the NIEHS program, which earned a perfect score of 100 percent compliance with its financial disclosure requirements and ethics training programs.
“OGE has oversight and jurisdiction over the ethics programs of all federal agencies,” explained Bruce Androphy, J.D., director of the NIEHS Ethics Program(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/od/ethics/index.cfm) and a deputy ethics counselor for the NIEHS Ethics Office. “So this nomination means a lot to both the Institute and the ethics staff because, beyond compliance, it justifies the hard work and dedication we put into events like Ethics Day.”
Giving ethics a human face and personal touch
Offering a variety of functions and services to NIEHS personnel and administrators, the Ethics Program provides guidance for potential conflict of interest issues, handles matters of public and confidential disclosure, and coordinates ethics training programs, including responsible conduct of research. Despite the ever-growing use of online training and e-learning techniques throughout the federal government, Androphy and his staff believe there should always be a place for in-person, educational events.
“It is our goal to make training fun and meaningful,” noted Androphy. “That's why we have activities like Ethics Jeopardy, because it allows people to interact with presenters, ask questions, and get informed on what they can and can't do, in accordance with policy. It also gives them a chance to get to know our staff so that, when the time comes that they need information, they're comfortable coming to us.”
Ultimately, it's the hope of Androphy and his office that, through educational events like Ethics Day, they can create a relaxed, stress-free environment, whereby agency personnel are not only encouraged, but content to utilize his staff's expertise in federal and bioethics policy. Therefore, awards such as this one only serve to reinforce his office's commitment to that end.
“Our number one goal is to be a helpful resource for informing personnel on ethics policy as it applies to our daily jobs and responsibilities as government employees,” Androphy said. “If we're perceived as being tough, it's not because we like saying no, but rather because we're simply acting in the best ethical interest of NIEHS and the people who make it the world-class organization that it is.”
(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)