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Slide 1 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, 2007 - AIANEA Conference NRCS Employees 2007 Ethics Training Sponsor: AIANEA Audience: Presented by the NRCS Ethics.

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Presentation on theme: "Slide 1 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, 2007 - AIANEA Conference NRCS Employees 2007 Ethics Training Sponsor: AIANEA Audience: Presented by the NRCS Ethics."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Slide 1 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference NRCS Employees 2007 Ethics Training Sponsor: AIANEA Audience: Presented by the NRCS Ethics Office August 27, 2007 Corpus Christi, TX Caryl J. Butcher NRCS Ethics Officer

3 Slide Ethics Training In 2004, you heard... NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Ethics risks are much higher [in NRCS] than in most Agencies Employees become so active in supporting the partnership that they become, essentially Areas of particular concern: Partnering Agreements Relationships between employees and non-Federal entities Etc. agents of the partners.

4 Slide Ethics Training NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Increased $ = Greater Scrutiny 2002 Farm Bill Demands greater transparency Avoid Conflicting Interests Protect integrity of NRCS Programs and services In 2004, you heard...

5 Slide Ethics Training NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference AIANEA Conference: Conflicting Interests COI and Impartiality Prohibited Representation Misuse of Position Participation with Non-Federal Organizations Official Participation Personal Participation Fundraising Statutory Authority -- What NRCS may do Ethics Laws & Regulations -- What employees may and may not do 2004

6 Slide Ethics Training NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Relations with Non-Federal Organizations General Session 1.Review the Basics Conflicting Interests Participation with Non-Federal Entities 2.Case Study Liaison Session 1.Appointment of Agency Liaison 2.Gifts from Tribes 2:00 - 3:00 pm 3:15 - 4:30 pm Sign the sign-in sheet for each course to receive credit.

7 Slide Ethics Training Employee may not, as part of their Government job work personally and substantially on any particular matter involving specific parties in which the employee* has a financial interest … If the matter will affect* that interest Actual Conflict of Interests - Recap Prohibition also applies if someone with whom the employee has certain personal or business relations has an interest. NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference

8 Slide Ethics Training NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Interests & Relationships that Trigger Disqualification Employee Spouse or minor child General partner Outside employer or prospective employer Non-Federal organization in which employee is an officer, director, trustee, or general partner Person with whom employee has or seeks a business, contractual or other financial relationship Member of household or close relative Employer of spouse, parent or dependent child Non-Fed employer within past 1 year; Non-Fed organizations in which the employee is active; Person or Org for whom the spouse, parent or dependent child is an employee, officer, director, consultant, contractor, agent, etc Imputed Interests Covered Relationships

9 Slide Ethics Training Impartiality 1.The matter 1 is likely to affect the financial interest a person 2 with whom the employee has a covered relationship; 3 AND 2.The employees involvement would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of all relevant facts to question the employees impartiality? NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 1 Applies to "particular matters" involving "specific parties". 2 Person includes any legal entity other than the US (Federal) Government. 3 Or, if the matter is likely to affects interests of a person represented by one with whom the employee has a covered relationship. Must disqualify IF: Recap

10 Slide Ethics Training Disqualification Required to avoid COI 1 Responsibility of the employee Impacts NRCS duties, not outside interest NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Let's look at some examples. Recap The employee tells his/her supervisor and does not perform official duties unless given written ethics authorization by the DCH MGT. 1 Any employee's reputation for honesty and integrity is not relevant.

11 Slide Ethics Training Let's see what we have learned so far... NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Example: Can a DC work on: Her own EQIP application? Her father's EQIP application? Application of the family farm? Pre-contract functions for other operations competing for the same EQIP funds? No "B""B" Yes "A""A" What's the correct Answer? "C""C" No Yes The Correct Answer is " __ " A

12 Slide Ethics Training Examples NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Can Joe, the DC, write the plan for his sister's operation? If Sis was a TSP, could Joe do the CCC 1245 for a practice she had done? Answers: No - - The conservation plan and the CCC 1245 are particular matters involving specific parties, and [sister] is a relative with whom Joe has a close personal relationship. Let's see what we have learned so far...

13 Slide Ethics Training Example NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Jack's father is on the Executive Board of an Organization. Can Jack serve as the Technical Rep for a cooperative agreement with that organization? Answer: No - The cooperative agreement is a particular matter which affects the interest of the Organization. The father is on the Board, and is a relative with whom Jack has a close personal relationship. (covered relationship) Would the answer be the same if it was: (a) Contribution agreement? (b) Professional Society? Example Yes

14 Slide 13 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Case Study #1 Susan has been doing a great job for NRCS as a Tribal Liaison. She is responsible for activities related to issue resolution with the [Tribe]. The work has increased so in the last several years that she is now a full-time Tribal Liaison. Susan feels so fortunate to have gotten this job as Tribal Liaison. Now, she lives within driving distance of her family. To top it off, she has just been offered the chance to serve as Member-at-Large on the Executive Committee of the [Tribe] Ethics Training QUESTION: What should Susan do?

15 Slide 14 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 1.Any Ethics issues? (Y or N) 2007 Ethics Training Case Study #1 - What should Susan do? 2.Can Susan do it without NRCS approval? 3.Can the STC allow her to do it? 4.Can NRCS prohibit Susan from serving on the Committee? 5.If so, could she have to choose between the Committee and her NRCS job? - Could her supervisors request an exception? - Is there a provision that relates to an employee's birthright in an Indian nation that would make it okay? 6.Can Susan get in trouble if she does it anyway? Yes Group ExerciseTime: ____

16 Slide 15 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 2.Can Susan do it without NRCS approval? Case Study # Ethics Training The Liaison Session will address questions about whether the Liaison policy should apply to Tribal Liaisons. No. The Assignment of Liaison policy reflects that a Liaison must not: Serve as an officer, board member, or employee; or act as agent or representative, of the [Non-Federal], or Actively participate in [Non-Federal's] activities in your personal capacity unless you receive written clearance from [STC] to do so. [Does not prohibit membership.. ]

17 Slide 16 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 3.Can the STC allow Susan to do it? Case Study # Ethics Training 4.Can NRCS prohibit her from serving on the Committee? In an official capacity? In a personal capacity? What if no compensation? Yes (She can not so it.) Yes. (She still can not do it.) 5.Could Susan have to choose between serving on the Committee and her NRCS job? Yes. No. The STC lacks authority to do so.

18 Slide 17 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Why Susan cannot do it and remain the Tribal Liaison: 2007 Ethics Training CAN NOT in an official capacity Department of Justice Opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel, DOJ, have determined that service as a member of the Committee in an official capacity would violate the conflict of interests statute, 18 U.S.C. 208, unless the agency has specific statutory authority to have an employee serve on the governing board of that specific organization. Statutory authority to have an NRCS employee serve in an official capacity on the governing body of a non-Federal entity is limited to: 1. SARE Administrative Councils 2. Rural Development Boards

19 Slide 18 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Why Susan cannot do it and remain the Tribal Liaison: 2007 Ethics Training CAN NOT in a personal capacity 18 USC Conflict of Interest statute Employee may not work for Government on matter affecting the interest of a non-Federal organization for which the employee serves as an officer. This law makes it illegal for a Tribal Liaison to continue work on matters affecting a Tribe if also on the Tribe's Executive Committee.

20 Slide 19 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 2007 Ethics Training Case Study #1 - Could her supervisors request an exception? It would not be granted. "Given the extent of [a Tribal Liaison's] official duties with the Tribe, an individual waiver under 18 U.S.C. 208(b)(1) would not be justifiable. There is no basis for concluding that the conflicting financial interest (service on the Committee) is not so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity of the services which the government may expect from [the employee]. " From USDA Office of Ethics, OE Advisory ,Conflicting Financial Interests & Impartiality - Tribal Executive Committee.

21 Slide 20 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 2007 Ethics Training Case Study #1 - Is there a provision that relates to an employee's birthright in an Indian nation that makes it okay? No. That waiver authority would not apply in this situation. Waiver authority at 18 U.S.C. 208 (b)(4) permits official participation in matters likely to be affected when interest results solely from the interest of the employee in birthrights in an Indian Tribe, etc. "However, this provision requires that the particular matter at issue must not involve the tribe, band, nation, etc., as a specific party. The Tribe, here, is the specific party with which the [USDA Agency] has assigned the employee to act. Additionally, the financial interests involved are not the employees as a matter solely of his birthright, but because of his voluntary membership on the Committee." [ OE Advisory ] Emphasis added.

22 Slide 21 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 2007 Ethics Training Case Study #1 - What should Susan do? 6.Can she get in trouble if she does it anyway? Yes. 18 U.S.C. 208 is a criminal statute. NRCS is required to report violations to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Employees are required to know and comply with the prohibition.

23 Slide 22 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference 2007 Ethics Training Case Study #1 - What should Susan do? Yes No Yes No Yes 1.Any ethics Problems 2.Can Susan do it without NRCS approval? 3.Can the STC allow her to do it? 4.Can NRCS prohibit Susan from serving on the Committee? 5.If so, could she have to choose between the Committee and her NRCS job? - Could her supervisors get an exception? - Is there a provision that relates to an employee's birthright in an Indian nation that would make it okay? 6.Can Susan get in trouble if she does it anyway? Group ExerciseSummary Answer Sheet

24 Slide Ethics Training. Board Member PersonalOfficial NRCS Liaison NoYes Use NRCS Title Travel Time Equipment No Yes No Use Liaison Designation Template Designation by State Conservationist or Higher Does Not Vote No Lobbying No Involvement in Internal Business (finances, fundraising, membership, elections, etc.) Membership Okay Provided Not Active YesNA Personal v. Official Participation in Non-Federal Organizations - Quick Reference Flowchart Title 110 – General Manual (110-GM, Amend. 2, November 2003)405.N November 2003 Next

25 Slide Ethics Training End of General Session Sign the sign-in sheet Satisfies your CY 2007 Training Requirement.* NEXT -- Liaisons Session Today, 3:15 - 4:30 pm * The 2007 Ethics Training Requirement applies to Financial Disclosure Report Filers. Slide 24NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Questions?


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