In a letter to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the Security Industry Association (SIA), Alexandria, Va., expressed opposition to the proposed OGE amendment limiting gifts from registered lobbyists and lobbying organizations. SIA believes the rule as written will severely limit the ability of federal government employees to participate in certain educational programs that meet the mission of their agencies.

As a provider of such educational programming to federal government employees and industry attendees at SIA conferences and trade shows, SIA is directly impacted by this proceeding.

In its proposed rule, the OGE recognizes that federal government employees should be able to accept offers of free attendance to ‘substantive events that would provide a legitimate educational or professional development benefit that furthers the interests of an agency.’ However, this exception to the rule does not include trade associations.

“The exclusion of trade associations from that exception discriminates against SIA and a considerable number of trade associations that serve a critical role in virtually every industry,” said SIA’s new chief executive officer, Don Erickson. “... Though SIA and many other trade associations may engage in lobbying activities, SIA educational programming is not a lobbying tool or technique.”

SIA’s educational policies closely align with those established by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

“We respectfully urge the OGE to rely on the widely-recognized technical expertise of entities like ASTD before proposing requirements that could have far-reaching consequences for government employees and those they serve,” Erickson said.