House Office of Congressional Ethics: History, Authority, and Procedures [March 8, 2013] [open pdf - 424KB]
"The House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was established on March 11, 2008, with the passage of H.Res. [House Resolution] 895. It was reauthorized by the House as part of the rules package (H.Res. 5) adopted by the 113th Congress on January 3, 2013. This action followed years of efforts by groups within and outside Congress to create an independent entity to investigate allegations of misconduct by members, officers, and employees of Congress. During the 110th Congress (2007-2008), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner created the bipartisan Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement, chaired by Representative Michael Capuano, to consider whether the House should create an 'outside' ethics-enforcement entity. The task force worked for nearly a year before issuing its recommendations for the creation of the OCE. The mandate of the OCE, which has jurisdiction only in the House, is to review information, and when appropriate, refer findings of fact to the House Committee on Ethics. Only this committee, pursuant to House rules, has the authority to recommend House discipline of members and staff. Information of alleged wrongdoing by members, officers, and employees of the House may be accepted by the OCE from the general public, but only the OCE board can initiate a review. [...] This report describes the history and rationale behind the creation of the OCE, its operations, and its relationship with the House Committee on Ethics, and options potentially available for Congress if further amendments to the House ethics process are desired."
CRS Report for Congress, R40760