DOs and DON'Ts

(See the Office of Special Counsel for additional information and guidance)

The Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326, restricts Federal employee involvement in partisan political activity. Violation of the Hatch Act may result in removal from Federal employment or a suspension, without pay, of not less than 30 days. There are four different classes of employees under the Hatch Act:

  1. Career SES, Administrative Law Judges, Administrative Appeals Judges, and those who serve on the Contract Appeals Board are the most restricted group. 
  2. GS and WG employees are in the lesser restricted group.
  3. Noncareer SES, Schedule C, and most other employees are in the moderately restricted group. This group may participate in certain partisan political activity but only in a purely private capacity.
  4. Presidentially appointed by the Senate confirmed personnel (PAS) are the least restricted group. PAS employees are subjected to some restrictions, but they are less constrained in terms of where and when they can engage in political activity because of their 24-hour duty status.

Hatch Act Rules

Off Duty, Off Premises Rule

Applies to everyone but PAS employees. "Off duty" means you may only engage in political activity while on annual leave or during non-duty hours. "Off premises" means you may not engage in political activity in buildings owned or leased by the Federal Government. No campaign buttons or posters for current political candidates may be displayed by Federal employees in a Government building. However, you may display a political bumper sticker on your personal car, even if it is parked in a government garage. PAS employees may engage in political activity during work hours, but the campaign must pay for all their expenses.

No Use of Subordinates Rule 

You may not solicit the participation of subordinates in political activity. For example, if a non-career SES employee is invited to a political event but cannot go, he or she should not request a subordinate employee to attend on his or her behalf.

No Use of Title Rule

You may not allow your title or your affiliation with DOI to be used in conjunction with any partisan political activity.

No Fundraising Rule

You may not solicit others to contribute to candidates for political office. You may attend fundraising events and may even speak, provided neither your title nor your affiliation is used, but you can't solicit money either verbally or in writing. Also, you may not collect, accept, or receive political contributions on behalf of a partisan candidate.

No Uniform/No Government Vehicle Rule

You may not engage in political activity while wearing an official uniform or using a Government vehicle. You may not display a political bumper sticker on a Government vehicle.