Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Question: Two months ago, I left employment with a firm competing for a contract with my Agency. I have completely severed my ties with the company. I transferred my 401k to my own broker. My duties include recommending the winner of the contract. Will I have a problem if I recommend the winner of the contract?
Answer: An employee has a "covered relationship" with an employer he/she has left within the last year. Even though you have completely severed your relationship with the company, you may not recommend the contract winner. A reasonable person with knowledge of these facts could question your impartiality. Your Agency head or other ethics official with appropriate delegated ethics authority may, however, authorize you to participate in the matter if deemed necessary. The criteria for the authorization is set forth in this section of the Standards. See 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502
B. Impartiality in Performance Official Duties
Question: Are there other rules besides the Conflicts of Financial Interest Statute?
Answer: Yes. In addition to the criminal statute, there is a regulatory rule, referred to as "Impartiality in Performing Official Duties," that covers certain other types of conflicts of interest.
Question: What's the difference between the criminal rule and the regulatory rule?
Answer: Aside from the obvious difference in penalties (a violation of the regulatory rule is not a crime), the impartiality rule has two significant differences from the criminal conflict of interest statute: first, it applies to fewer types of matters, and second, it holds you responsible for the financial interests of a greater number of people. It doesn't apply to all matters, just "a particular matter involving specific parties," such as a contract, grant, or agreement--in other words, a transaction of some kind. A program is not a particular matter involving specific parties (although the contracts that support the program are).
On the other hand, most of DOI's business is done through contracts, grants, agreements, or permit/lease, so the rule will often be in consideration. If it does apply, you can have a conflict arising from the financial interests of a member of your household (not just your spouse or a minor child). Not only that, but if a person with whom you have a "covered relationship" is or represents a party to such a matter, then the rule applies.
Question: So what's a "covered relationship"?
Answer: You have a "covered relationship" with:
a person with whom you have or seek a business, contractual or other financial relationship
a member of your household or with whom you have a close personal relationship
a person for whom your spouse, parent or dependent child serves as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor or employee
any person for whom you have, within the last year served as officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor or employee, or
any organization in which you are an active participant.
Question: Are there any exceptions to the rule?
Answer: DOI may waive the impartiality rule, but you must seek approval from your supervisor and Ethics Advisor.