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Ethics for HSRB Special Government Employees Dan Fort Ethics Officer EPA Office of General Counsel.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics for HSRB Special Government Employees Dan Fort Ethics Officer EPA Office of General Counsel."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics for HSRB Special Government Employees Dan Fort Ethics Officer EPA Office of General Counsel

2 What is an SGE? Temporary service (not to exceed 130 days) Recruited primarily for expertise NOT representation Advisory committee members, individual experts or consultants Ethics laws and regulations apply (regardless of compensation)

3 Day Counting Has implications for many ethics regulations Counted: Any day in when work for the Government is performed. Even one hour is counted as a day Not counted: any brief or non-substantive activities on uncompensated days (brief communications or administrative matters)

4 The Bottom Line SGEs ARE Government employees for purposes of the conflict of interest laws and ethics rules. SGEs are NOT representative committee members or Government contractors. SGEs are subject to somewhat less restrictive ethics laws and regulations than other Government employees. (Representative committee members and contractors are not Government employees and are not covered by the federal ethics laws and regulations.)

5 Financial Disclosure Public service is a public trust. We all must uphold the highest ethical standards. Private interests must not conflict with public duties To ensure integrity of operations, financial disclosure information is collected from Government employees and reviewed You are required to take annual ethics training

6 Public or Confidential? SGEs must file either a public or confidential financial disclosure report: Public Reporting: If you work (or are expected to work) more than 60 days in a calendar year AND are paid at least the equivalent of $57.28/hour (current for CY 2012), you must file a public financial disclosure form (OGE-278) Confidential Reporting: Any SGE not required to file a public financial disclosure report must file a confidential financial disclosure report (EPA Form )

7 After You File… Report is reviewed for completeness and any ethics issues Each report reviewed again before each new particular matter You may be asked for additional information

8 Conflicts of Interest 18 U.S.C. §208: No employee may participate in any particular Government matter that will have a direct and predictable effect on their financial interests. Includes financial interests of others with whom they have certain relationships. These relationships are: Spouse Minor child General partner Organization in which the individual serves as officer, director, trustee, general partner or employee Person or organization with which the employee is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment. This is a criminal statute!

9 Conflicts of Interest: Particular Matter Definition: Deliberations, decisions, or actions that are focused upon the interests of specific persons or entities or an identifiable class of persons or entities. The Government interprets this term broadly. Not broad policy options or considerations directed toward the interest of a large and diverse group of people May involve specific parties (e.g., a contract, grant or case in litigation) May be of general applicability (focused on the interests of a discrete and identifiable class of persons, such as an industry)

10 Conflicts of Interest: Direct & Predictable Must be a direct and predictable effect on your financial interests (e.g., you own stock). Must be a close causal link between your SGE work and your financial interest. Can’t be “speculative” or dependent on events that are independent of and unrelated to your SGE work. Not necessary to know the magnitude of the loss/gain, and the dollar amount is immaterial

11 Important Exception for FACA Committee Members You may participate in particular matters of general applicability where your disqualifying financial interest arises from your non-Federal employment or prospective employment. Exception is subject to several important limitations: Can’t have a "special or distinct effect" on either you or your employer, other than as part of a class Doesn’t cover interests arising from the ownership of financial interests in the employer or prospective employer (e.g., stock) Your employment must involve an actual employee/employer relationship as opposed to an independent contractor (such as certain consulting positions).

12 Appearance Issues Not criminal like conflict of interest under 18 U.S.C. 208 Covered relationships outside the Government might lead to questions of whether you have an appearance of a loss of impartiality EPA may determine that the interest of the Government in your participation outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the Agency's programs and operations.

13 Representation 18 U.S.C. § 203 and 205: Can’t represent any person or organization back to the Government, whether or not for compensation – criminal prohibitions! For SGE’s, the rule is limited to particular matters involving specific parties but: SGE under 60 days: Applies to a particular matter involving a specific party or parties that you have, at any time, participated in personally and substantially as a Government employee. SGE over 60 days: Applies to any particular matter involving a specific party or parties if the matter is pending in the department or agency in which you are serving, whether you worked on it or not.

14 Post Employment 18 U.S.C. §207: Can’t represent others back to the Government on particular matters involving specific parties that you participated in personally and substantially. Criminal prohibition. All SGEs: The lifetime post-employment restriction on any particular matter involving specific parties (where you participated personally and substantially) applies to you. SGE over 60 days: An additional one ‑ year "cooling ‑ off" period applies to you if you were a senior employee. No representations on behalf of another back to EPA with the intent to influence any official action (regardless of whether you participated personally and substantially) for one year. Senior employee = compensation equal to or greater than $74.48/hour (current for CY 2012).

15 Salary Supplementation 18 U.S.C. § 209: Can’t receive salary or supplementation of salary from any source other than the United States for work as a Government employee. Criminal Prohibition. SGEs: Doesn’t apply to you. BUT, you may be prohibited from compensation for teaching, speaking, or writing when the activity is undertaken as part of your official duties. You are also subject to the criminal bribery and illegal gratuity statute, which prohibits, under certain circumstances, the receipt of anything of value in connection with official acts (a.k.a. bribery).

16 Hatch Act 5 U.S.C. §§7321 ‑ 7328 (a.k.a. “The Hatch Act”) covers political activity restrictions. Permits most employees to take an active part in political management and campaigns. But, you still can’t: Run for partisan office Solicit, collect or receive political contributions Engage in political activity (including wearing buttons) while on duty, or in a government office, or while using a government vehicle SGEs: You are covered by the Act only during the time that you are actually performing government business.

17 Gifts 5 C.F.R. Part 2635 Subpart B: Can’t accept gifts from "prohibited sources" (generally persons or organizations affected by EPA actions) or given because of official government position. Certain exceptions apply. SGEs: This provision applies to you.

18 Giving Gifts to Others 5 C.F.R. Part 2635 Subpart C: You can’t give or contribute toward a gift for an official superior or receive a gift from an employee who receives less pay. Certain exceptions apply. SGEs: This provision applies to you.

19 Seeking Employment 5 C.F.R. Part 2635 Subpart F: You can’t participate in any particular matter which directly and predictably affects the financial interest of any person or organization with whom you have had any contact regarding future employment unless authorized by your Deputy Ethics Official If the communications amount to "negotiating" for future "employment," you may not participate in such matters unless the Deputy Agency Ethics Official (not the Deputy Ethics Official) has granted a waiver under 18 U.S.C. §208(b)(1). SGEs: This provision applies to you.

20 Misuse of Position 5 C.F.R. Part 2635 Subpart G: Relates to use of official time, authority, information and resources. Has standards relating to: Use of public office for private gain Use of nonpublic information Use of Government Property Use of Official Time Use of Official Title & Authority SGEs: These provisions apply to you

21 Expert Witness 5 C.F.R. § : Can’t serve, other than on behalf of the United States, as an expert witness, with or without compensation, in any proceeding before a court or agency of the United States in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest, unless authorized by the DAEO. SGEs under 60 days: Applies only if you have participated as a federal employee in the particular proceeding or in the particular matter that is the subject of the proceeding. SGEs over 60 days: Full restriction applies

22 Teaching/Speaking/Writing 5 C.F.R. § : Except for certain teaching activities, you can’t receive compensation from any source other than the Government for teaching, speaking, and writing that relates to the your official duties or ongoing policy/program/operation of the Agency. The term “related” has specific meanings

23 More: T/S/W SGEs: As a general rule, you can’t get paid for teaching, speaking, writing about the work that you do for the Government while you are a Government employee. Applies for the entire time of your appointment (not just the days you work as an SGE) Limited to a matter to which you were personally involved during the past year SGE less than 60 days: Applies only to specific party matters in which you participated (i.e., you may accept compensation for matters of general applicability, even though you participated)

24 THE 14 Ethical Principles Public service is a public trust Avoid financial conflicts of interest Don’t use nonpublic information for private gain Don’t solicit or accept gifts from those with interests before EPA Give an honest day’s work Don’t make unauthorized commitments for the Government Don’t use public office for private gain Act impartially Conserve and protect federal property Disclose waste, fraud, abuse and corruption Satisfy your legal duties (and pay “all just financial obligations”) Obey EEO laws and regulations Avoid outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with official duties Avoid creating the appearance that you are violating the law or the ethical standards

25 Thanks! Have questions? Contact your Deputy Ethics Official (DEO) Still have questions? Call us: Dan Fort, Ethics Officer: (202) Jennie Keith, Ethics Officer: (202) Justina Fugh, Senior Counsel for Ethics and Alternate Agency Ethics Official: (202)


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