Recently, the President extended the National Emergency related to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The announcement was in the Federal Register on Monday, September 13, 2010. The practical effect for the ethics community is a continuation (through September 14, 2011) of the suspension of the 180 day waiting period for retired military member employment as a civilian in DoD contained in 5 USC 3326.
Tired of getting those questions about contractors participating in holiday office parties and about what kind of gifts can be exchanged among employees? Your answers are addressed in the SOCO 2010 Holiday Party Guidance.
Two recent cases before the MSPB highlight the importance of training when determining the appropriate penalty for a violation. In Special Counsel v. Phillip Mark, 2010 MSPB 159, August 2, 2010, an IRS revenue agent sent an email to several people that included a notice about whether you wanted to help the campaign, and it included links on how to contribute. The email was not sent to subordinates or Government contractors. Four days before sending the email, the revenue agent received an internal newsletter from ethics officials that included a link about the Hatch Act. Based on that information, the MSPB concluded that he could not argue that he had no knowledge of the Hatch Act, and was suspended for 120 days from Government service.
In Special Counsel v. Pattie Ware, 2010 MSPB 105, June 9, 2010, a contracting officer for the Treasury sent 6 emails from her Government computer soliciting financial support for the Obama campaign in 2008 including a Government contractor of whom she had the authority to terminate. Three weeks before sending her first email, she took annual ethics training in 2008 which included a 5-page handout of Hatch Act questions and answers. The MSPB found that she could not argue lack of intent or knowledge of the Hatch Act because she had received training, and ordered her removed from service.
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.