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About SOCO

The President of the United States affirmed his strong support for ethical conduct by Government officers and employees in Executive Order 12674, April 12, 1989. He charged the head of each agency to "[e]nsure that the rank, responsibilities, authority, staffing, and resources of the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) are sufficient to ensure the effectiveness of the agency ethics program" (Sec. 301(e)). The DAEO of the Office of the Secretary of Defense is the General Counsel. He uses his Standards of Conduct Office (SOCO) to administer his responsibilities. SOCO is an element of the Defense Legal Services Agency under the Deputy General Counsel for Personnel and Health Policy (DGC/P&HP).


SOCO prepares policy guidance for Department-wide application through the "Standards of Conduct" Directive (DoDD 5500.7), the "Joint Ethics Regulation (JER)" (DoD 5500.7-R), and written opinions. It supports the Ethics Oversight Committee, which is composed of senior ethics officials from the major DoD components and is chaired by the Director of SOCO. The members coordinate policy, training programs, and implementing regulations.


SOCO attorneys provide counseling to individuals assigned to OSD, the Joint Staff, and affiliated agencies. This includes personal briefings of all incoming and departing officers and employees. Oral and written briefings are given at the opening meetings of all advisory committees within OSD. SOCO attorneys routinely consult with ethics staffers in the DoD components, the Congress, the news media, and industry to explain DoD's rules.