A Guide For Interior Employees
Why is it important?
National Performance Review initiatives have stressed the use of partnerships with other Federal agencies and with private sector organizations as a desirable way to enhance the operations of Federal programs.
When Federal agencies work in close coordination with private sector organizations, several criminal conflict of interest provisions become important with regard to the conduct of the Federal employees involved. Partnership arrangements can result in conflicts with the requirements of appropriations law.
Rules on fundraising and solicitation apply to the establishment of partnerships.
DO . . .
Have a written partnership agreement. Set forth objectives of the partnership, expected benefits to the Department's programs, policy on endorsements and advertising and the responsibilities of each partner.
Have employees who are officers in partner organizations recuse (disqualify) themselves from any involvement as a Federal employee in particular matters in which that partner organization has a financial interest.
REASON: 28 U.S.C. 208 - this statute requires employees to refrain from working on particular matters when the employee is serving as an officer in a private organization when that organization has a financial interest in the particular matters. The term organization includes academic, non-profit, tax exempt as well as profit making organizations. Officer means President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Trustee, Director, Ex-Officio officers or directors and any other position with a fiduciary duty to the organization.
EXAMPLE: An employee who is an officer in a private society that wishes to swap land with the Federal Government, may not work on the land swap issue in his or her Federal employment capacity at a time when he or she is an officer in the outside organization that has a financial interest in the matter.
Authorize official time for employees to work on the joint effort for which the partnership was established.
REASON: 18 U.S.C. 205 - Federal employees may not represent anyone other than the United States before a Federal agency or court in connection with a particular matter in which the U.S. is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Represent means any contact, even a telephone call, when the contact is made with an intent to influence the agency or court. The only exceptions are 1) for organizations a majority of whose members are Federal employees or 2) for family members of the Federal employee.
EXAMPLE: This criminal statute would prohibit a Federal employee who is on his or her own time from representing a non-profit, tax, exempt organization before any Federal agency in an attempt to influence, the employees of that agency on some issue pending before them. It makes no difference what position is taken. However, if the employee was working under an approved partnership agreement as a part of his or her duties, he or she would be representing the U.S. and there would be no violation of this statute.
DON'T . . .
Endorse the products or services of the partner organization in your official capacity.
REASON: 5 CFR 2635 - Federal employees may not endorse the products or services of private organizations nor may private organizations use appropriated funds to advertise. Such activities may result in the misuse of public office for private gain. The provision on private gain refers to anyone's private gain NOT just the Federal employee's private gain.
Solicit funds or donations for your programs from partner organizations without specific statutory authority to solicit and to accept donations and gifts.
REASON: There must be specific statutory authorization for agencies to solicit money or other gifts that will supplement appropriated funds. In addition, there must be specific statutory authority to accept voluntary donations of money and other gifts. Both of these actions result in supplementation of appropriations which, by law, requires that supplementation may occur only when authorized by Congress.
Create an organization to do what your own agency cannot do and then enter into a partnership with it.
REASON: Under 31 U.S.C. 9102, a Federal agency may establish or acquire a corporation to act as an agency only by or under a law of the United States specifically authorizing the action.
Accept any compensation other than your Federal salary for official duty services you provide to partner organizations unless that compensation is from a Federal agency.
REASON: 18 U.S.C. 209 is a criminal statute that prohibits dual compensation for services provided by Federal employees.
Use appropriated money to pay for lobbying activities to be performed by a partner.
REASON: 18 U.S.C. 1913. This criminal statute prohibits the use of appropriated funds to lobby Congress except through established official Federal agency channels and the procedures sanctioned by the Office of Management and Budget.
Control or assume any measure of practical responsibility for the fund raising activities of private individuals or organizations who are partners.
REASON: Executive Order 12674, which does not carry criminal penalties, prohibits employees from fund raising by provisions that prohibit any actions that result in or create the appearance of: Using public office for private gain (meaning anyone's private gain), losing independence or impartiality or affecting adversely the confidence of the public in the integrity of the Government.
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