Recently, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum outlining the limitations on political activity for DoD military and civilian personnel. While all DoD personnel have some limitations on their participation in political activities, the rules are not uniform for all personnel. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the applicable rules. Links to the specific guidance referenced in the Deputy Secretary's memo are listed below.
Service members -- DoD Directive 1344.10.
Further Restricted Employees -- includes Presidential Appointees confirmed by the Senate (PAS), non-career and career members of the SES, contract appeals board members, all employees of the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geo-Spatial-Intelligence Agency. Further Restricted Q&A.
Less Restricted Employees -- includes all other civilian employees not listed above, including Schedule C political appointees. Less Restricted Q&A.
Effective July 3, 2012, a new requirement of the recently enacted Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) mandates that all Public Financial Disclosure Report (OGE 278) filers submit periodic reports of certain financial transactions throughout the year. The law also mandates that DoD, like all other Federal agencies, make the periodic transaction reports of its filers available to the public. Covered periodic transactions occurring on or after July 3, 2012, must be reported on the Periodic Transaction Report (OGE Form 278-T), which is available here as a fillable pdf. The requirement to periodically report certain transactions is in addition to OGE 278 filers' obligations to file the new entrant, annual, and termination public financial disclosure reports.
OGE 278 filers must report the purchase, sale, or exchange of stocks, bonds, commodities futures, or other forms of securities owned or acquired by them in the covered reporting period if the individual transaction exceeds $1,000.
The law excludes all other financial assets from periodic reporting, including: real estate; excepted investment funds (e.g., mutual funds); underlying holdings of an excepted investment fund, qualified blind or diversified trust, or an excepted trust; Treasury bills, notes, and bonds; life insurance or annuities; cash accounts; or assets in a Federal retirement program (e.g., TSP). Public filers should note, however, that they must continue to report financial transactions related to these assets on Schedule B of their next annual or termination OGE 278 report.
OGE 278 filers are not required to report the periodic transactions of spouses or dependent children unless they also own those assets. However, they must continue to report the separate transactions of spouses and dependent children on Schedule B of their annual or termination OGE 278 report.
The STOCK Act requires that OGE 278 filers disclose a covered periodic transaction no more than 30 days after they receive notification of the transaction, and if they have not received notice, no more than 45 days after the actual transaction. To help filers comply with the reporting deadlines, we suggest that they review their brokerage statements or access their accounts on-line every month to identify reportable transactions. In our experience, most brokerage statements post at the end of the month, so review and reporting at that time is ideal. Setting up an electronic reminder in Outlook to conduct this regular review may help, especially for filers who must monitor trades made on their behalf by others in trusts or managed accounts. For particularly active traders, we encourage them to discuss this new legal requirement with a broker or financial advisor to ensure that they receive timely notification of transactions.
If a public filer believes that he or she cannot meet an OGE Form 278-T filing deadline, the filer should promptly contact his or her respective ethics office to request an extension of time to file. Unlike the OGE 278, filing extensions (of up to 90 calendar days) for periodic transaction reports may be granted for good cause shown before or after the due date. Combat zone extensions are also available.
Failure to timely file a periodic transaction report will generally result in the assessment of a monetary penalty in the amount of $200. The penalty is applicable only to the required monthly report, not to individual transactions. Upon written request, a waiver of the $200 late filing fee may be granted in extraordinary circumstances.
We remind OGE 278 filers that they may complete these periodic transaction reports during duty hours because OGE 278 reporting is an obligation of their Federal service.
SOCO has updated the Ethics Counselor's Deskbook, a non-authoritative interpretive guide on how the Federal Standards of Conduct apply at the Department of Defense, to reflect the information presented at the April 2012 Ethics Counselor's Course held at the Army JAG School in Charlottesville, VA. The Deskbook includes outlines and instructor presentations for subjects covered plus reference materials - all with a hyperlinked table of contents to get you to the topic you need fast.
Need new ideas and cases for annual ethics training? Check out the 2012 updates for The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure.
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.