Presentation on theme: "Slide 1 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, 2007 - AIANEA Conference NRCS Tribal Liaisons 2007 Ethics Training Audience: Presented by the NRCS Ethics Office Caryl."— Presentation transcript:
Slide 1 NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference NRCS Tribal Liaisons 2007 Ethics Training Audience: Presented by the NRCS Ethics Office Caryl J. Butcher NRCS Ethics Officer August 27, 2007 Corpus Christi, TX Appointment of Agency Liaison Gifts from Tribes
Slide 2 For this course... Liaison refers to an NRCS Liaison to a non-Federal entity including: non-profit corporations; for-profit corporations; partners; State or local government agencies Professional, scientific, employee, civic, religious or educational organizations corporations created by Federal law that have been privatized (not subject to USDA management or supervision); NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Includes Tribal Liaisons
Slide Ethics Training Recap NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Ethics risks are much higher than in most Agencies Employees become so active in supporting the partnership that they become, essentially agents of the partners. Yes, that is a problem !
Slide Ethics Training [Emphasis added.] While the ethics risks for NRCS employees were rated as High, Chief Knight has committed to a number of actions that have the potential for reducing those risks. One area of particular concern has been the involvement of NRCS employees in partnering agreements. Traditionally, there has been a risk (not just in terms of NRCS partnerships) for agency employees to become so active in supporting the partnership that they become, essentially, agents of the partners. NRCS is an agency that partners aggressively. Grade for Risk Assessment downgraded to "High" to Moderately High. NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training Safeguards: Liaison Designation Cooperative Agreements Now Required: USDA Ethics Issuance 00-1 GM Title 110 Part (b)(1) and (d) NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training 1. Employee must not work on matter in which they have an interest Prohibition also applies if someone with whom the employee has certain personal or business relations has an interest. 3. Disqualification is required to avoid COI. Responsibility of the employee. 4. Normally impacts NRCS duties, not outside interest 5. Employee's reputation is not relevant 6. Does not apply if employee is performing clerical duties (but does apply to voucher examiner work) Recap NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
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
Slide Ethics Training Affects Liaisons Statutory authority affects what can be done using official time and other Government resources Ethics rules affect what employee may be allowed to do officially Employee's personal activities affect whether he/she can be the NRCS Liaison NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Ethics Concerns Include: Appearance of Federal involvement, sanction and/or endorsement Conflicting financial interests (fiduciaries) Loss of impartiality (active members) Fundraising Political activity Lobbying Representation Affects Liaisons
Slide Ethics Training Affects Liaisons NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Employee is considered an "active" participant in an outside organization if participating in such roles as: Fiduciary (officer, etc.) Agent Attorney Contractor Spokesperson Committee chair Advisor
Slide Ethics Training Reoccurring questions NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Questions arise about certain special statutory exemptions of interest to Tribal Liaisons COI exemption related to Indian birthright For present and former Government officials who represent the interests of Indian tribes Foreign gift rules Gifts from Tribes
Slide Ethics Training Reoccurring questions NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Questions arise about certain special statutory exemptions of interest to Tribal Liaisons COI exemption related to Indian birthright Does not exempt employee from following the same rules as for all other employees based on seeking non- Federal employment The exemption is at 18 USC 208(b). (b)(4) contains an exemption for financial interests arising solely out of birthrights in an Indian tribe. OGE has stated, " We know of no instance where employment with an Indian tribe would be a birthright and consequently do not think this exemption authority would be applicable. Therefore, an executive branch employee would have had to utilize or qualify under one of the other authorities in subsection (b) prior to the time he or she took official action otherwise prohibited by section 208(a)."
Slide Ethics Training Slide 13 Employees must not communicate with a Federal Agency on behalf of another person or non-Federal organization on a matter in which the Government has an interest Simplified… [18 USC 203 & 205] Prohibited Representation Can assist behind-the-scenes provided no compensation. Not officially Not personally NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference " "Representation" includes oral and written communications, and mere presence that is intended to influence a Federal official."
Slide Ethics Training Slide 14 Prohibited Representation by current employees. Not-for-profit union, cooperative, or professional or recreational association provided a majority of the members are current employees ** Employee grievance or complaint IPA or uncompensated personal representation provided notification requirement is satisfied. Limited Exceptions*... provided no compensation * Must get specific guidance. ** No exceptions for current employees when dealing with contracts, agreements, grants, etc. that would provide Federal funds to these organizations. NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training Slide 15 Prohibited Representation Intent of the exception regarding representation of Tribes (provided the notification requirement is met) was to allow an employee on an I.P.A. [Intergovernmental Personnel Act] assignment to represent a Tribe, and also to allow former employees to represent a Tribe the types of contracts the law was trying to promote. But, the exception is even broader than that. Limited Exception for Representation of Tribes NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Exception can only apply to current employee provided no compensation.
Slide Ethics Training Slide 16 Prohibited Representation Limited Exception for Representation of Tribes Notice requirement. Must be satisfied in advance. The employee must advise the head of the agency (they seek to represent the Tribe to) of any "personal and substantial" involvement he/she may have had in the matter while an employee of the Federal Government. If the employee has had no such involvement in the matter, no notice is required. See OGE 82 x 11(Letter to a Government Official dated 6/30/1982) NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training Slide 17 Examples of Permissible behind the scenes assistance Prohibited Representation Official – RC&D Coordinator assists the Council to write a proposal the Council will submit for an EPA grant. Coordinator must not present the proposal, or be the representative or POC. Personal – Sitting at the kitchen table, an employee advises a professional organization seeking a meeting, agreement, conference support, etc. who to contact at NRCS. (without compensation.) NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training Slide 18NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Except: 1. SARE Advisory Councils 2. Rural Development Councils Misuse of Position No favoritism Employee must not ask another employee to: Look out for the application of a friend or family member; Keep them informed; Etc. No endorsement Official time is not for personal business See 5 CFR **** Subpart G
Slide Ethics Training Personal v. official business: Board membership* Committee leadership* Fundraising Political Activity Lobbying Internal business of the organization* Slide 19 * Except Board Membership, Committee leadership & internal business of: 1) Rural Development Councils, and 2) SARE Advisory Committees NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Participation with Non-Federal Organizations
Slide Ethics Training Required to be NRCS Liaison to non-Federal Issued by the STC* Protects NRCS & Liaison *STC, RAC or Division Directors and above. Do not re-delegate. Appointment of Agency Liaison Liaisons must: Avoid conflicting interests Be clear about lines of loyalty Avoid prohibited activity NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference [See Handouts] Liaisons may use official time, etc. for certain activities
Slide Ethics Training Requirement for documentation using the Assignment of Liaisons template is NRCS and USDA policy: i. NRCS National Instruction Title 110 Part 301 – Appointment of Agency Liaison (May 2005); ii. NRCS GM Title 110 Part (b)(1) and (d); and iii. USDA Ethics Issuance Number 00-1, Participation in Non-Federal Organizations, Documentation of Official Participation (issued May 3, 2001 and updated September 28, 2004). Appointment of Agency Liaison NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training Partner For-profit or Non-profit University or Other non-Federal organization Agreement or MOU IPA Etc. There are restrictions on: Who can be the NRCS Liaison What an NRCS Liaison can do NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training During your service as Agency Liaison, you are, at all times, to act as a representative solely of the interests of the Agency and the United States; you shall not (1) serve as an officer, board member, or employee, or (2) act as agent or representative, of the Association. Your service as Agency Liaison is to conform to the requirements of 18 U.S.C and to the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 C.F.R. part … Communicates Restrictions and Where Lines of Loyalty Must Run Liaisons must: Avoid conflicting interests Be clear about lines of loyal Avoid prohibited activity NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference [Emphasis added.]
Slide Ethics Training The NRCS Liaison must not: Vote on matters before the Association Board of Directors*; Serve on committees or task groups unrelated to the purpose statement for your service as Agency Liaison in the Liaison Assignment letter. Participate in issues related solely to the business or internal interests of the Association (e.g., finances, fundraising, membership, etc.); * Except for SARE and Rural Development Councils NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training The NRCS Liaison must not: (continued) Engage in lobbying efforts or representation of the Associations interests before the Federal Government [This does not preclude presenting to the Agency the positions or views of the Association on matters directly related to the interests of the Agency being served through your service as Agency Liaison]; Actively participate in Association activities in your personal capacity unless you receive written ethics clearance to do so [Does not preclude membership; however, refrain from active participation (e.g., fundraising, holding office or board membership, employment, committee activities, lobbying, etc.)]. Supervise their employees* NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference * Except for Rural Development Councils
Slide Ethics Training 1.Required in all MOUs and Agreements where money or personnel are exchanged. 2.A Liaison Assignment letter must also be issued to any employee named in an Agreement or MOU Relationship to Liaison Issue: Required for Ethics Clearance Ethics Provision for Agreements NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training Example : Employees of NRCS shall participate in efforts under this agreement solely as representatives of the United States. To this end, they shall not participate as directors, officers, employees, or otherwise serve or hold themselves out as representatives of, NARC&DC, or any member RC&DCs. They also shall not assist NARC&DC, or any member RC&DCs with efforts to lobby Congress, or to raise money through fundraising efforts. Further, NRCS employees shall report to their immediate supervisor any negotiations with NARC&DC, or any member RC&DC, concerning future employment and shall refrain from participation in efforts regarding such party until approved by the agency. Cooperative Agreement Provision NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training You may not: Can you be the Liaison if: an officer, board member*, trustee? committee or subcommittee chairperson? spouse of an employee or officer? parent of employee? general partner of an officer or employee? have an easement or other contract? member** Work for NRCS on a particular matter involving a specific party if you have an outside interest … Therefore N N N N N N Y … unless written waiver from DCH MGT * Except for SARE and Rural Development Councils. ** Except member of a conservation district or association. NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Exercise
Slide Ethics Training When Liaison Must Disqualify Management Options Appoint different employee to serve as Liaison If employee elects to divest: Allow employee to continue as Liaison after divesture Or, continue disqualification up to one-year. If the appointing official thinks disqualification is not required or should be waived, request a determination from the DCH Mgt. Substantial Conflict Determination, as appropriate *See 5 CFR (b) NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training For Liaison to a non-Federal Entity Protects NRCS Assists the Liaison to understand key dos and donts Issued by a senior official* STC RAC NHQ Div Dir. or above Liaison Designation Agreement* Requirements to issue are in: USDA EI 00-1, Participation in Non-Federal Organizations NRCS NI Title 110 Part 301 NRCS GM Title 110, Part (d) NRCS Grants and Agreements Handbook, C (1) (vii) NRCS Contribution Agreements Handbook, C (1) (iv)
Slide Ethics Training Official business does not include: Lobbying or Political Activity Fundraising Prohibited representation Misuse of position Voting on matters before the Organization Internal business of the organization membership finances registration fees Liaisons must: Avoid conflicting interests Be clear about lines of loyal Not be on committees unrelated to purpose of Agreement Avoid prohibited activity
Slide Ethics Training What should you do? 1.The STC asks you to be the Black Emphasis SEPM: a)NOPBNRCSE Officer? b)NOPBNRCSE Committee Chair? c)NOPBNRCSE Officer in State Chapter? d)Organizing a NOPBNRCSE fundraiser? Answer: Disqualify.
Slide Ethics Training What should you do? 1.You are the Indian/Alaska Native Special Emphasis Program Manager. a)You win as a write in candidate to be an AIANEA Officer? b)You are asked to chair an AIANEA Committee? Answer: Disqualify (Stop working matters affecting the interests of AIANEA or a majority of its members); and Seek specific ethics guidance from the Ethics Officer, Washington, DC.
Slide Ethics Training What should you do? 2. You are the Tribal Liaison. This has been a good assignment for you and your family but your spouse has been getting a bit bored. When you returned home from a recent Conference you learned your spouse got a job with the Tribal District. Answer: Disqualify. You can not work on matters likely to affect the Tribes interest. Either: Spouse voluntarily resigns from the job with the Tribe. STC reassigns you to another position. DCH MGT instructs you to have your spouse resign.
Slide Ethics Training What should you do? 3. You have been a member of SWCS for years. You used to be more active, even serving as Chair of the Conference Committee in past years. In recent years, however, you have been willing to serve on a committee but not as committee or subcommittee chairperson. The STC asks you to work with SWCS to coordinate matters dealing with the Agencys involvement with their upcoming training conference, including the list of employees to be approved to attend. Answer: You can accept the assignment. Tell STC which Committee you are on. If it raises a concern about your service as Liaison, STC will not appoint you if you remain a committee member.
Slide Ethics Training What should you do? 5.The STC asks you to be the Tribal Liaison. You are: a)AIANEA Officer? Answer: Disqualify.
Slide Ethics Training What should you do? 4.You are the Tribal Liaison. The Tribe asks you to serve on the Tribe's Executive Committee. a)Accept, no problem? b)Accept if the STC says it is okay? c)Mention it to the Chief and accept if he congratulates you? d)Ask the American Indian/Alaska Native Emphasis Program Manager and State Ethics Advisor - okay if they say so? e)Ask the National Civil Rights Committee if you can do it? f)Request an ethics waiver? g)Disqualify until you say "No"? Answer: Disqualify until you say 'No'.
Slide Ethics Training Whether Tribes have special status. That is not an issue when it comes to Ethics. Issues are Tribal Liaisons and are about Federal employees, not about Tribes. Tribes are not part of the U.S. Federal Government. Therefore, the policy provides for NRCS Tribal Liaisons to be issued the form along with other NRCS liaisons to non- Federal entities. Tribes are not Foreign Governments for purpose of the foreign gift rules. Issues related to gifts from Tribes should be referred to the NRCS Ethics Office for handling under the Secretary's Gift Authority. Reoccurring issues NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference
Slide Ethics Training Self-Test Can an employee be NRCS liaison to an organization if: Officer or member of the board of directors? Committee or subcommittee chairperson? Leading an activity for the organization? Member? No * No Yes** * Except for SARE and Rural Development Councils ** Except if member of Conservation District or association. Employees spouse (or parent) is Board member? Consultant? Employee? No. Can NRCS funds be used to attend a Board meeting? For a Board member? For a Liaison? No. Yes.
Slide Ethics Training Agency Gift Acceptance Requires Ethics Approval (DCH MGT) See DR
Slide Ethics Training Sign the sign-in sheet Satisfies Filer's CY 2007 Training Requirement Slide 41NRCS Ethics OfficeAugust 27, AIANEA Conference Questions?