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One Government Agency Created A $23,000 App To Help Employees Not Break The Law

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As President Donald Trump’s administration continues to fight against charges of ethics violations, the Department of Agriculture is trying to help its employees navigate federal ethics rules with a mobile app.

“On my first day as Secretary of Agriculture, I emphasized USDA’s firm commitment to maintaining the highest degree of integrity and ethical behavior in keeping with President Trump’s ethics pledge,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wrote in a staff email, Government Executive reported Thursday. “As public servants, our greater understanding of these important rules will help serve USDA’s mission.”

The app includes short summaries of federal ethics rules, particularly limitations on political activity under the 1939 Hatch Act which restricts federal employees from advocating for political causes or candidates in their official government capacity.

Hatch Act violations are a timely issue, as Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson may have violated the rules earlier this week by appearing at a rally for President Donald Trump after being announced as HUD secretary. (RELATED: Ben Carson May Have Broken The Law — On NATIONAL TELEVISION)

“This information is available, at your fingertips, in a well-organized Ethics Library,” according to a description of the app in the iTunes store. The app also has a series of 10 short videos in a comprehensive ethics library “so that employees can quickly become more aware about these important rules, anytime, whether in the office, off-site, or on official travel.”

USDA hired QuickSeries Publishers to “Develop a Mobile App and a Web-based Administrative Portal for the USDA Office of Ethics” for $23,295, according to the government’s contracting data portal fpds.gov.

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