- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Government officials in Indiana have been issuing fewer waivers that would let state employees take related jobs in the private sector before a yearlong wait, according to state records.

About 10 waivers to the state’s ethics requirement for executive branch employees were granted each year over the past decade, but just one has been allowed so far this year, data show. The waivers could continue to decline because the General Assembly recently adopted a new approval process, The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1IWEgeE ) reported.

Officials decided to rein in the waivers after former Indiana Department of Transportation chief of staff Troy Woodruff skirting a one-year cooling-off period to take a job as a consultant rather than an employee with an engineering firm that he had helped award $500,000 worth of state work. The new rules are meant to prevent such consulting work, which previously allowed state employees to exercise the loophole.

In 2013, Gov. Mike Pence attempted to control waivers by advising state department heads to run them through his office.

During this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers also tightened the process by requiring all waivers to go before the Indiana State Ethics Commission for approval. Those reforms went into effect at the beginning of July.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican and key leader in the legislature’s ethics reforms, said the waivers now face further review.

“One small measure of that is the fact that these kinds of secret waivers that were happening have decreased because they require public scrutiny now,” he said.

Earlier this year, lawmakers reduced the power of state department heads, who previously had wide discretion in determining whether to lift restrictions and simply had to file a letter with the Ethic Commission explaining why they chose to do so.

Bosma said he believes legislators made it clear that they “expected a different standard and closer scrutiny” on waivers when the new reforms were adopted.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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