In the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, two references are made to the definition of institution of higher education. One instance is at 5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(d)(2) for the gift exception of awards and honorary degrees. The other is at 5 C.F.R. § 2635.807(a)(3)(i)(A) for teaching, speaking, and writing. In each case, the old citation, 20 U.S.C. § 1141(a), has been superseded by 20 U.S.C. § 1001(a).
The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board recently affirmed a decision to suspend without pay for thirty days an employee of the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). Reasoning? The employee, while on duty, sent an E-mail message that contained a letter endorsing a Presidential candidate to approximately thirty other EPA employees. The Merit Systems Protection Board found that this violated the Hatch Act prohibition against engaging in political activity while on duty in a Government building. See 2009 MSPB 63 for more details.
In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed a decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board to terminate the employment of a Department of Homeland Security criminal investigator. Reasoning? The court upheld the determination that the employee provided false statements to assist her mother in obtaining U.S. citizenship, made false statements / misstatements / omissions during a criminal investigation, and misused a Government database to determine whether she was under investigation. See Hernandez v. Department of Homeland Security for more details.
Remember that 2009 Incumbent Public Financial Disclosure Report filers who do not submit their forms on or before June 15th are subject to the $200 late filing fee unless they received an extension. Remind these (very) late filers that their checks should be made payable to the U.S. Treasury.
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.