In response to recent inquiries concerning service on Boards of non-federal entities (NFE), SOCO is sending this reminder about disseminating information to NFEs and receiving awards from NFEs.
Serving in your Personal Capacity - An employee who serves on the Board of an NFE in their personal capacity may not work on any official DoD matters involving that NFE. 18 U.S.C. § 208. Further, the employee may not represent the NFE before the Government on matters in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. 18 U.S.C. §§ 203 & 205. While serving on an NFE board in a personal capacity, Federal personnel may not use Government resources, personnel, or official time for unauthorized purposes including using their official titles or positions to imply DoD endorsement of the NFE.
Serving in your Official Capacity - An employee may almost never (unless statutorily mandated) serve on the Board of an NFE in their official capacity. In an official capacity, an employee may serve as a liaison or representative but cannot vote on NFE matters especially day-to-day management issues. For acquisition associations, federal personnel serving as liaisons or representatives may be the preferred route. The head of the component must approve service as a liaison or representative.
Disseminating Information - Consistent with section 3-208 of DoD Directive 5500.7-R, the Joint Ethics Regulation, permission to disseminate any information about the NFE event(s) at the DoD facility must be given by the head of the component.
Receiving an NFE Award - Under 5 C.F.R. 26365.204(d), Federal personnel may accept an award for meritorious public service or achievement from an NFE provided the employee's performance of their official duties cannot substantially affect the interests of the NFE . Federal personnel receiving awards of cash or of a market value over $200.00 must receive written approval by the ethics office prior to acceptance.
Please see SOCO Advisory 10-04 (Amendment) at: Advisory 10-04a June 12, 2010
With the increasing use of non-standard pay systems for Federal personnel, determining filing status can be difficult. The Intergovernmental Personnel Act detailees and appointees are a prime example. Fortunately, in December of 2002, the Office of Government Ethics issued guidance about how to determine if IPA's should file the SF 278 public financial disclosure report. In essence, the DAEOgram concludes that if the IPA is a detailee assuming a position that was once classified as an SES position, then the IPA must file a public financial disclosure report. Any pay formula such as 120% of step 1 of the GS-15 schedule is not used as a test for whether the IPA is a public filer unless the IPA is appointed and not detailed. This DAEOgram is available here.
The United States Court of the Federal Circuit upheld Navy's removal of Lori Valdez for misuse of her position for unauthorized access to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service database to run a criminal history inquiry on her husband for her personal benefit, not as a part of her official duties and without permission or authority from the agency. Her husband needed a clean criminal history record for a job application, and he needed a job to qualify for a mortgage on a home that would allow her ill father to move in. Ms. Valdez admitted she intentionally misused Government property. Management was concerned that she would do this again, and recommended removal. The Merit Systems Protection Board agreed. See discussion at http://www.fedsmith.com/articles/records/file/Valdez%20v_%20Navy%2010-3035.pdf (link inactive).
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.