A Guide For
U.S. Department of the Interior
WHO IS A SPECIAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE?
A special government employee (SGE) in the Executive Branch is one who performs temporary duties, with or without compensation, on a full-time or intermittent basis for 130 days or less during any 365 consecutive day period.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS
Special Government Employees are subject to the financial disclosure requirements in the Ethics in Government Act and 5 CFR 2634.
SGEs who are expected to serve more than 60 days in any calendar year and paid at an hourly rate equal to or greater than $38.30 per hour must file the Public Financial Disclosure Report (SF-278).
Those SGEs who expect to work less than 60 days or when the salary rate is less than $38.30 per hour must submit the Confidential Financial Disclosure Report (SF-450).
POST EMPLOYMENT RESTRICTIONS
18 U.S.C. § 207 - After leaving federal employment, you may not represent another party before a Federal agency or court on any particular matter involving specific parties, in which you participated personally and substantially while serving the government. For more information please call your local ethics counselor.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATUTES THAT APPLY
18 U.S.C. § 203 - Generally, you may not seek, accept, or agree to receive anything of value in return for representing another party on any particular matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. It does not matter who actually performs the representational service.*
18 U.S.C. § 205 - Generally, you may not represent another party, with or without compensation, before any government agency, on any particular matter in which you participated personally and substantially, and in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.*
*For SGEs, 18 U.S.C. § 203 and § 205 are narrowed to particular matters involving specific parties in which you participated personally and substantially as a Government employee and if you have served in excess of 60 days during the preceding 365 days, on such matters pending in the agency where you served.
18 U.S.C. § 208 - You may not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that could affect your financial interest, or the financial interest of your spouse, dependent child, general partner, organization in which you hold a policy or fiduciary position, your outside employer or of one with whom you are negotiating for future employment. A waiver to this statute may be obtained. Please see your ethics counselor for details.
Other ethics statutes, such as those pertaining to outside earned income limitations (5 U.S.C. App. 7, § 501(a)), honoraria (5 U.S.C. App. 7, § 501(b)), and limitations on outside professional employment and teaching (5 U.S.C. App. 7, § 502(a) do not apply to SGEs.
Statutes, such as the Hatch Act (political activity) only apply during the 24-hour period of any day in which the SGE is actually performing government business.
STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT PROVISIONS
The governmentwide Standards of Ethical Conduct, 5 CFR Part 2635, apply to both regular and special government employees. Notably, an SGE is covered by the standards even though he/she doesn't perform official duties on a given day.
MISUSE OF POSITION - You may not take any action in your official capacity which may result in or create the appearance of: using public office for private gain (the term private gain means anyone's private gain including an outside organization's); losing independence or impartiality; or causing the public to lose confidence in the integrity of the Government.
USE OF OFFICIAL TITLE - You may use your official title when you are acting in your official capacity as a representative of the Department. This may be on written documents, in verbal introduction, or other forms of address.
You may not use your official title in your private capacity, such as in a letter to the editor, a personal letter to a member of Congress, an article or book, a Directory, or on the letterhead or signature block of a private organization's stationery.
TRAVEL AND RELATED EXPENSES - Generally, all official travel must be paid for from appropriated funds. Normally those funds are from your bureau, office, or department. Under some circumstances it is acceptable for your travel to be paid out of the appropriated funds of another government agency. Also, under specific laws, your bureau, office, or department may be reimbursed by an outside source.
MISUSE OF GOVERNMENT TIME AND EQUIPMENT - It is each employee's responsibility to protect and conserve Government time, property, and information, and to use them economically and for official purposes only.
ENDORSEMENTS - You are prohibited from endorsing, in an official capacity: the proprietary products or processes of manufacturers; or the services of commercial firms for advertising, publicity, or sales purposes. You may endorse any outside program in your private capacity, provided that you do not use your official government title or position with the Department.
TEACHING, SPEAKING, AND WRITING ACTIVITIES -
SGEs may not receive money for speaking or writing on particular matters involving specific parties, in which the SGE has participated or is participating personally and substantially for the government. A speech for which no money is received is also prohibited when the information conveyed draws upon nonpublic information.
FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES - An SGE may engage in fundraising in a personal capacity provided that he/she does not personally solicit funds or other support from a subordinate, or from any person known to the employee to be a prohibited source (one who may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's official duties).
LOBBYING WITH APPROPRIATED FUNDS - You are prohibited from using appropriated funds to lobby a Member of Congress on matters of personal interest. This includes matters of concern to any outside organization in which you are a member or officer. Lobbying on matters of official interest must be conducted through established official channels.
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
As a general rule, while on official duty you are prohibited from soliciting or accepting gifts from prohibited sources.
Gifts include any tangible or intangible items, such as favors, gratuities, food or refreshments, entertainment, travel, or travel related expenses. Prohibited sources include any person, company, or organization that: has business with the Department of the Interior; is seeking to do business with the Department; conducts operations that are regulated by the Department; or has any interests that may be affected by the employee's official duties. There are limited exceptions to this rule. See your local ethics counselor for details.
GIFTS FROM FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS - While on or off official duty, you may not accept or encourage the tender of a gift from a foreign government, except: (1) gifts of minimal value (currently $245 or less); (2) medical treatment; (3) transportation taking place entirely outside the United States; (4) educational scholarships; or (5) when refusal would cause embarrassment either to the United States or the foreign government offering the gift.
GIFTS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES - All federal employees are limited in the exchange of gifts among themselves. You may not: (1) directly or indirectly give a gift to, or make a donation toward, a gift for an official superior. An official superior is someone who is above you in the chain of command and can affect your performance appraisal, awards, or job assignments;
(2) Solicit a contribution from another employee for a gift to an official superior; - either yours or the other employee's; or
(3) Coerce the offering of a gift.
SERVICE AS AN EXPERT WITNESS
This bar applies only if the SGE has participated while a Federal employee in the particular proceeding or in the particular matter that is the subject of the proceeding.
If an SGE has been appointed by the President; serves on a commission established by statute; or has served or is expected to serve for more than 60 days in a period of 365 consecutive days, an additional restriction applies.
These SGEs cannot serve, except on behalf of the United States, as an expert witness in any proceeding before a court or agency of the United States in which the individual's employing agency is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Under limited circumstances the Designated Agency Ethics Official may authorize an employee's participation when it is in the best interest of the government. This statute applies to all representation, paid and unpaid.
For additional information please call the Departmental Ethics Office (202) 208-5916
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