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USDA Mobile App 'Reaffirms' Trump Ethics Standards

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue // Mark Schiefelbein/AP

The Agriculture Department launched a new mobile app on Wednesday that brings federal employees answers to pressing government ethics questions right at their fingertips.

The USDA Ethics App guides employees through ethical dilemmas using a comprehensive library of quick-hit video and text summaries of government ethics and Hatch Act rules. The app runs on both Apple and Android devices, and also provides contact information for ethics advisers at the agency.

“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,” wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in an email to department staff. “As public servants, our greater understanding of these important rules will help serve USDA’s mission.”

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The USDA’s in-house ethics office began developing the app in December 2016 after it saw an increased demand for ethics booklets at offices nationwide, the agency told Nextgov.

The app provides resources specifically for USDA employees, but it’s available to all executive branch workers. The agency said in a statement the app “reaffirms [Secretary] Perdue’s commitment to President Trump’s governmentwide ethics standards.”

However, the Trump administration has frequently found itself in hot water over a number of ethical issues in its early months.

Most recently, questions arose over whether Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson violated the Hatch Act by speaking at a Trump rally in Arizona under his official title of Cabinet secretary.

In July, the director of the Office of Government Ethics resigned after repeated clashes with the president, saying in his resignation letter “it has become clear to me that we need improvements to the existing ethics program.”

Editor's Note: This article was updated with additional comments from the Agriculture Department. 

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