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Acting Executive Director’s Report for March 2023

March 6, 2023
To: Members of the Ethics Commission
From: Gayathri Thaikkendiyil, Acting Executive Director
Subject: Agenda Item 5 – Acting Executive Director’s Report for March 2023

Summary and Action Requested

This report provides various programmatic and operational highlights since the last report.

No action is required by the Commission, as this item is for informational purposes only.

Staff News

I am sorry to announce that Geraldo Moya’s last day with the Ethics Commission was on March 3. Geraldo joined our office as an Administrative Services Clerk in the Engagement & Compliance Division in January 2022. He brought a range of customer service and technology support experiences to his role at the Commission, including prior work in the healthcare field in Alameda County and at SF International Airport (SFO). During his time with the Commission, Geraldo assisted with facilitating monthly public meetings as the onsite Clerk and provided critical administrative support for the Commission’s compliance procedures and front-office functions. We thank Geraldo for his tremendous contributions to the Commission’s work and wish him the best for his future endeavors.

On February 16, Peter Lauterborn, Ethics@Work Training & Outreach Manager, assumed the supervisory responsibilities for the Engagement & Compliance Division to provide leadership and support to that Division on an interim basis due to the vacancy in the 1824 Engagement & Compliance manager position. With this change, Peter will lead both divisions until that position is filled. Peter joined the Commission in July 2022. Prior to that, he was with Civic Edge Consulting for five years, where he led project management for stakeholder outreach across multiple public-sector client teams, conducted in-person facilitation, and directed the company’s pivot to remote training, workshops and webinars at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He last served as the company’s Vice President for Civic Engagement and Planning, where he managed multiple cross-disciplinary project teams and was the point person for supporting executive-level public sector clients and their programmatic campaigns. His prior experience also includes City service as Legislative Aide to former Supervisor Eric Mar, where his portfolio included the areas of education, environment, public transit and utilities, and as Youth Vote Coordinator for the Department of Children, Youth & Their Families, where he directed the city education programs’ educational curriculum. Peter holds a BA in History from San Francisco State.

Budget Update

Following the Commission’s last monthly meeting on February 10 our office submitted its FY24-FY25 Ethics Commission Budget request to the Mayor’s Office, which called for a 7.5 percent increase in the Commission’s operating budget in FY24 and 38.8 percent increase in FY25 to secure continued funding for full staffing and operational needs to support its core transparency, compliance, and oversight functions. On the same day, the Commission issued a public statement on it FY24-FY25 budget proposal. For background regarding the Commission’s budget proposals and future updates visit the budget webpage.

Behested Payments

At the Commission’s December meeting, the Commission voted to approve new regulations regarding the City’s behested payment rules. On December 12, Staff referred the approved regulations to the Board of Supervisors, where the Board had 60 days in which they could have vetoed the regulations with a two-thirds vote. The Board did not veto the regulations and they became effective on February 7. The Commission’s website has been updated to reflect the new regulations and a public notice was sent out through the Commission’s Interested Persons List to notify the public of these changes.

April 3 Deadline Approaching: Annual Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) Filings

Annual economic interest filings by more than 5,000 City officials and designated employees are due no later than Monday, April 3, 2023. These filings are typically due by April 1, but as this date falls on a Saturday, the deadline has been moved to the following business day. These annual filings will cover the period January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022. City Elected officials, Department Heads, and Board and Commission Members who are required to file their statements online with the Ethics Commission must also certify online by April 3rd that they have completed their required annual Ethics and Sunshine Ordinance training. City employees who file a Form 700 in their department because their position is designated in their department’s section of the Conflict of Interest Code are also required to file their Form 700s using the Ethics Commission’s online filing system.

Ahead of this filing deadline, the Engagement and Compliance Division has been proactively engaging Form 700 filers and departmental filing officers to inform them regarding their filing obligations. In this calendar year, the team has fielded over 200 individual requests for information regarding how to complete the Form 700. Two informational sessions were held in February 2023 remotely, which included 188 and 36 participants respectively. Videos of these sessions have been posted online, along with other training materials. Additional reminders will be sent to filers in advance of the deadline. As of March 1, 31% of filings were completed, which is over 9 percent higher than the compliance rate around this time last year.

In addition, the Division is preparing to update the Netfile e-filing system to adjust to additions, deletions, and changes in titles of certain filers to reflect City departments’ organizational and staffing changes per the biennial update of the City’s Conflict of Interest Code which will be effective March 11. The team will be working to notify departmental filing officers regarding these updates to ensure timely compliance. Those newly required to complete a Form 700 per the updated Code will have 30 days to file their Assuming Office Statement but do not need to file their Annual Statement. Those whose positions have been removed from the code, will have 30 days to file a Leaving Office Statement.

Implementation Status of the Recommendations of the August 2020 BLA Audit

At the request of the Board of Supervisors, the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office (BLA) conducted a performance audit of the Ethics Commission through a motion passed on January 28, 2020, to look for opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Commission operations across all functions. At the conclusion of the audit in August 2020, the BLA issued 16 recommendations which the Department fully agreed with. The Board of Supervisors’ Government Audit and Oversight Committee discussed the audit at its November 19, 2020 meeting (BOS File No. 201158) and filed the report without taking further action. As of February 6, 2023, the Commission has completed implementing process enhancements to address all recommendations. The 16 recommendations and the actions taken to implement process enhancements in response to the recommendations are identified in the attached table

Ethics@Work Program Update

The Ethics@Work team continues to develop its proactive educational materials while fielding departmental requests and supporting Commission staff with other operational needs. The Division’s detailed program update is included here. The major change since the last update to the Commission in October 2022 is the new plan to reach out to departments to develop customized work plans in close collaboration with departmental leadership teams to heighten awareness of ethics rules by offering educational materials and trainings for their staff and officers. Starting with the largest departments, the team will work with their staff to identify the most relevant educational materials or opportunities for workshops on key issues. This initiative is targeted to launch in the upcoming months. Ongoing progress updates regarding agency engagement will be shared in future reports. Additionally, the Ethics@Work team – which is now fully staffed – is working to develop ethics training content in multimedia formats to meet a range of learning styles.  

Separately, the Ethics@Work program team has also been working on a rebranding effort to enable a consistent look-and-feel of the Commission’s outreach and public facing materials so that the public can easily recognize the Commission’s work products and follow our work. The Division has developed a new logo and established best practices for the use of more readable fonts and colors in our materials. The team has also developed style guidelines to help ensure a consistent implementation of these standards department wide. The new logo identified, which can be seen in the program update presentation linked above, shows an open door highlighting both transparency and a welcome to those who seek out guidance. This will help label our work and online presence more clearly.

Revenues Report

The table below reflects revenues received by the Commission for Fiscal Year 2023 as of February 6, 2023.

Account DescriptionFY22-23 Original Budget  FY22-23 Actuals
Campaign Consultant Registration Fee$7,000$6,600
Lobbyist Registration Fee$85,000$102,000
Campaign Consultant Fines$2,000$50
Campaign Disclosure Fines$50,000$5,881
Statement of Economic Interests Fines$1,250$0
Lobbyists Fines$2,000$2,450
Other Ethics Fines$7,500$23,638
Other General Government Charges$2,450$0

I look forward to answering any questions you may have at the upcoming Commission meeting.

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