Public servants may not need to know every detail of the conflicts of interest law, but they do need to know enough to be able to spot issues as they arise, and they need to know who to turn to for answers. Effective training should achieve three goals:
- Make public servants aware of the basic bright-line compliance standards.
- Help public servants develop a "field awareness" of conflicts of interest, so they can spot issues early.
- Cultivate positive relationships with public servants, so that they feel encouraged to seek guidance from the Board when questions arise.
The Unit's ongoing work consists of a three-part cycle:
- "Research & Development of Content": Studying relevant law, agency policies, history, academic papers, current events, and then using performance & creative writing techniques, Unit staff creates an interactive "deep dive" into the conflicts of interest law. Public servants are scheduled to take the "deep dive" once every two years.
- "Deep Dive": Unit staff lead public servants in an entertaining, thorough examination of the law using stories, role-playing, and discussions of hypotheticals. Audience feedback serves as "field research," giving the Unit a sense of the biggest questions and concerns at a given agency, and helping the Unit refine its messaging. Feedback also comes in the form of requests for advice and Enforcement complaints.
- "Supplemental Messaging": In between "deep dives," and based on feedback received, Unit staff create smaller messages to keep ethics awareness alive, and distribute those messages using print, social media, video and other platforms. Feedback comes from social media users, press coverage, and, of course, contact with public servants. All feedback goes into Research & Development for the next "deep dive."
All of this work - teaching, lesson planning, writing, acting, editing, event planning, and publishing - is accomplished by the Board's team of Engagement Specialists. Whether in the classroom or in the new media space, the Education & Engagement Unit hews to same ethos: be relevant, be interesting, be authentic. Their approach has won accolades.
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