On December 12, 2006, the Director of OGE issued DAEOgram DO-06-036 (PDF-HTML-TXT) announcing the release of the new OGE Form 450. Use of this form will begin on January 1, 2007 when amendments to OGE's confidential reporting regulation become effective. Also, OGE has posted on its website an online training course and a set of frequently asked questions to help confidential filers complete their reports.
General Rule: Travel by extra-fare trains may be authorized/approved when its use is advantageous to the Government. The Joint Travel Regulation (applies to DoD civilians) makes it clear that use of the AMTRAK Acela Express or Metroliner train is considered advantageous to the Government, even though the lowest class of service available on those trains is business-class -- no further agency approval is needed for its use.
NOT PERMISSIBLE: However, if the lowest class available on the specific train chosen is first class, then rules for approval of premium class travel must be followed.
General Rule: Using Government funds to pay for premium-class travel is not permitted except under certain circumstances such as security, health, and emergencies as further addressed in Joint Federal Travel Regulations, Volume 1 (JFTR), Chapter 3 and Joint Travel Regulations, Volume 2 (JTR), Chapter 2.
The Air Force has published an excellent practical guide for Federal personnel who are working with contractors. The 48-page "Guide for the Government-Contractor Relationship (October 2006) may be found at: https://www.safaq.hq.af.mil/contracting/affars/5303/informational/gcr-guide-oct06.doc (link inactive)
OPM released new Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) regulations that became effective November 20, 2006. They may be found at: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20061800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/pdf/E6-19628.pdf (link inactive). (Also in November 20, Federal Register at 67276.
Of particular note for agency ethics officials are the modifications of regulations at 5 CFR 950.602 (Solicitation methods). The new regulation makes clear that special fundraising events, such as lotteries, may be approved by appropriate agency heads consistent with agency ethics regulations. Prizes for such events must be disassociated from the amount of contribution, if any, and be modest in nature and value.
In the matter of Celadon Laboratories, Inc., B-298533 , the Government Accountability Office sustained a protest in which the Celadon complained that an NIH peer review panel, composed of four members from industry and academia, improperly rejected Celadon's proposal because each of the members of the panel had a "real conflict of interest" because they worked for or were associated with a segment of the industry that relied on a technology that was directly competing with the technology offered by Celadon.
The opinion is significant in several ways:
It rejects the argument that the panel members' association with a competing technology is too remote to constitute a "real conflict of interest."
It rejects the argument that NIH satisfied its obligation to prevent a conflict of interest when it obtained conflict of interest statements from the members, briefed them, and reviewed their recommendation. It concludes, "The regulations do not contemplate that a self-certification by the evaluator is all that is ever needed to satisfy the requirement that he or she does not have a real conflict of interest."
The Department of Justice announced in a recent press release (12-06-06potoskiplea.pdf - link inactive) that Steven G. Potoski, a former civilian employee of the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York to a criminal information charging him with bribery and filing false tax returns. According to the press release, Potoski was the Director of Contracting for the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC Europe), in Garmisch, Germany. While serving as Director of Contracting from August 1998 to July 2005, Potoski accepted over $350,000 in bribes from contractors and subcontractors in exchange for contract awards related to work at AFRC Europe. He also accepted bribes in the form of home renovations, airline tickets, hotel rooms, and other items. The case is part of the National Procurement Fraud Initiative announced in October 2006 by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this advisory is to disseminate relevant information and sources of general guidance, policy and law on Government Ethics issues to the Department of Defense ethics community. Advisories are not intended to be and should not be cited as authoritative guidance, DoD policy, or law.