The Ethics in Government Act of 1978, borne out of the Watergate scandal, established the Office of Government Ethics and the position of a Designated Agency Ethics Official in each executive branch agency. The Act is intended to promote the integrity of public officials and institutions. To that end, the Act created mandatory public disclosure of certain designated public officials' financial and employment history and restricted lobbying activities of public officials after leaving office.

The Department of the Interior's Ethics Office seeks to promote an ethical culture among DOI employees, allowing both employees and the public to have confidence in the Department's management of America's vast natural and cultural resources. We build this ethical culture by providing ethics advice, counseling and education to DOI's employees, as well as managing the financial disclosure report process. The Ethics Office is not an enforcement or investigatory office. Our mission is prospective: helping employees think through potential conflicts of interest before taking action.

The Departmental Ethics Office is the Department of the Interior's (DOI) ethics office which services the employees in the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Solicitor, and the Interior Business Center. Each bureau has its own Deputy Ethics Counselor that manages each bureau's ethics programs.

The primary element of DOI's ethics program is providing advice and counsel on a wide variety of ethics-related issues, including gifts and entertainment, travel, outside employment, post-government employment, fundraising, misuse of position and government resources, and political activities.

In addition, the Departmental Ethics Office (DEO) manages the collection, review and analysis of financial disclosure reports. This review affirms to the public that our integrity is beyond reproach, thereby ensuring the public's trust in the Department of the Interior's employees and program.


Melinda Loftin was selected as the Department of the Interior's Designated Agency Ethics Official in 2006. Prior to coming to the Department of the Interior, Loftin worked at the Department of the Air Force holding a number of positions, including Associate General Counsel, Deputy Designated Agency Official and Director of the Ethics Office.

Her previous experience included an assignment to the Office of Counsel to the President, where she worked on nominations and ethics documents for White House appointees. Before coming to the Air Force in 1996, Loftin worked for the Department of the Army for 16 years on a broad range of legal disciplines. She also served as a congressional fellow on the U.S. Senate's Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee.

Loftin was a Senior Executive Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government and is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute. She received a B.A. in Business Administration and Political Science from Adrian College and a law degree from Michigan State University College of Law, which selected her for its 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award.