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212 FW 4
Participating in Professional Societies and Non-Federal Organizations

Supersedes 212 FW 4, 05/25/12

Date: February 4, 2013

Series: General Administration

Part 212: Ethics

 

 

PDF Version


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TOPIC

SECTIONS

Overview of the Policy

 

4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?

4.2 What are the objectives of this chapter?

4.3 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter?

Payment for Dues, Fees, Travel, and Other Costs

4.4 Will the Service pay for employees to participate in professional societies/organizations?

Requirements

4.5 What is required for an employee to participate in a professional society/organization?

·        Serving in a personal capacity

·        Serving in an official capacity as a liaison

·       Serving in an official capacity as officer or board member

4.6 What are the responsibilities of Service employees under this policy?

OVERVIEW

4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter:

 

A. Establishes policy for employees in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) who want to participate in professional societies or other non-Federal organizations,

 

B. Sets requirements for those employees who want to serve as officers or board members for societies/organizations, and

 

C. Supplements the Department of the Interior’s (Department) Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities policy (see 305 Departmental Manual (DM) 3) and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 CFR 2635).

 

4.2 What are the objectives of this chapter? Our objectives are to:

 

A. Enhance scientific and scholarly integrity through engagement with the communities of practice represented by professional societies, and

 

B. Encourage employees to participate in outside professional organizations to enhance their professional development, especially when that participation advances our mission, programs, and operations. 

 

4.3 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter?

 

A. Fiduciary duty: A fiduciary duty is an obligation to act in the best interest of another party. Because you have a fiduciary duty toward your employer (the Service), you must be careful about acting in a position that has a fiduciary duty to another organization (e.g., a professional society). It may create an actual or apparent conflict of interest or may affect your ability to act impartially. 

 

B. Official capacity: Serving in an official capacity means serving while on official Government duty, or serving as a representative of the Service outside of regular business hours. When serving in official capacity, you may use the Service logo and your official title and duty address as contact information.

 

C. Prohibited source: A prohibited source includes any organization or person who:

 

(1) Is seeking official action by the Service or the Department,

 

(2) Does business or seeks to do business with the Service or the Department,

 

(3) Conducts activities that the Service or the Department regulates,

 

(4) Has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of your official duties, or

 

(5) Is an organization a majority of whose members are described in 1 through 4 above.

 

PAYMENT FOR DUES, FEES, TRAVEL, AND OTHER COSTS

 

4.4 Will the Service pay for employees to participate in professional societies/organizations?

A. Dues or Fees:

 

(1) We cannot use appropriated funds to pay individual membership fees or dues.

 

(2) We can use appropriated funds to pay for “agency” membership if the membership is a necessary expense, is not directly tied to one person (e.g., their name is on the membership), and will further the mission of the Service as a whole.

 

(3) In rare circumstances we may use appropriated funds for a membership if the fee is authorized under the Government Employees Training Act (5 U.S.C. 4101). This is only the case if the fee covers the certification of employees to be trainers who will train other employees, and is not a matter of personal qualification.

B. Travel for Meetings: See 265 FW 11 for specific guidance on approval for Government-funded travel to meetings of professional societies/organizations.

C. Other Costs:

 

(1) Subscriptions to periodicals: We may use Federal funds for buying books and periodicals, including subscriptions, as long as it is for the Service (and not an individual) and is a necessary expense that furthers the Service mission.

 

(2) Employee development: For costs associated with organizations that provide training and employee development (e.g., Toastmasters), see 231 FW 4, Selection, Approval, and Completion of Training.

 

REQUIREMENTS

 

4.5 What is required for an employee to participate in a professional society/organization? It depends on the capacity in which you are participating. Following are the requirements for four different scenarios:

 

PERSONAL CAPACITY

A. Personal capacity as a member (i.e., not an officer or a member of the Board of Directors): If you want to participate in a professional society/organization on your own time and not as representatives of the Service you must:

 

(1) Still comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 CFR 2635),

 

(2) Ensure that you do not imply that you are representing the Service (e.g., when voting, making statements about your opinions, etc.), and

 

(3) Notify your supervisor of the outside activity verbally or in writing (e.g., an email) if the activity is in some way related to your work for the Service. You must briefly describe your involvement and explain whether or not you think there could be any apparent or potential conflict of interest (see 212 FW 1).

 

B. Personal capacity with fiduciary duty: If you want to serve in your personal capacity as an officer or member on the Board of Directors of a professional society/organization or in any position that creates a fiduciary duty you:

 

(1) Must adhere to all applicable ethics statutes and regulations (e.g., 5 CFR 2635),

 

(2) Should consult with your servicing Ethics Counselor to ensure that you understand how to comply, and

 

(3) Must complete FWS Form 3-2433, Disclosure – Serving as a Board Member/Officer on a Non-Federal Organization in a Personal Capacity, keep a copy, and give the original to your supervisor. If the organization is a prohibited source, you also must receive approval from your supervisor and Ethics Counselor before assuming the role.

 

OFFICIAL CAPACITY

 

C. Liaison to an outside organization (official capacity with no fiduciary duty): If you want to serve in an official capacity with no fiduciary duty, you must comply with the requirements in 305 DM 3 (section 3.9). This includes obtaining supervisory approval and consulting with your Ethics Counselor to complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the outside organization. See the Service’s Ethics Intranet site on Inside FWS for a template for the MOU.

 

D. Officer or board member to an outside organization (official capacity with fiduciary duty): If you want to serve in an official capacity with fiduciary duty (e.g., serving as an officer or a member of the Board of Directors in an outside organization where you vote or make decisions on the operation of the organization), you must comply with the requirements in 305 DM 3 (section 3.9). These requirements include receiving a conflict of interest waiver from the Service Director (Service Ethics Counselor), executing an MOU that acknowledges that your primary duty of loyalty is to the U.S. Government, and signing a recusal memorandum that outlines what actions you may not take. See the Service’s Ethics Intranet site on Inside FWS for the necessary documents.  

 

4.6 What are the responsibilities of Service employees under this policy? Table 4-1 lists the responsibilities of ethics officials, Directorate members, and other employees under this policy.

 


Table 4-1: Responsibilities for this policy

These employees…

Are responsible for…

A. The Director (Service Ethics Counselor)

(1) Approving or declining to approve requests for conflict of interest waivers that allow Service employees to serve as officers or board members for outside organizations as official representatives of the Service.

 

(2) Ensuring that policies and procedures are in place to avoid conflicts of interest for employees serving in outside organizations in their official or personal capacities.

B. Directorate members

(1) Reviewing and forwarding, as appropriate, recommendations to the Director for employees to receive conflict of interest waivers allowing them to serve as officers or board members for outside organizations as official representatives of the Service.

 

(2) On behalf of the Service, signing the required MOU with the outside organization requesting that an employee serve as an officer or board member for an outside organization as an official representative of the Service, or as a Service liaison to the organization.

 

(3) Ensuring that employees for whom they are responsible follow the policy in this chapter.

 

C. The Service Deputy Ethics Counselor

(1) Making recommendations to the Director regarding the approval of requests for conflict of interest waivers allowing employees to serve as officers or board members for outside organizations as official representatives of the Service.

 

(2) Advising Service employees and Assistant Ethics Counselors on this policy.

 

(3) Developing and keeping this policy up-to-date.

D. Regional and Headquarters Assistant Ethics Counselors

(1) Working with employees and supervisors in their Regions and Headquarters to help them comply with this chapter.

 

(2) Reviewing/approving employees’ requests to serve as liaisons to outside organizations in their official capacity.

 

(3) Reviewing/approving employees’ requests to serve in their personal capacity as officers or board members to outside organizations that are prohibited sources. 

 

(4) Assisting/advising employees with the process for requesting waivers to serve as officers or board members to outside organizations in their official capacity.

E. Managers and supervisors

(1) Ensuring that employees comply with this chapter, 305 DM 3, and 212 FW 1.

 

(2) Taking appropriate administrative and disciplinary action if employees do not comply. An employee’s failure to comply could result in violation of the Federal criminal conflicts of interest statute (18 U.S.C. 208) or violation of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 CFR 2635).

 

(3) When taking administrative and disciplinary actions, complying with 370 DM 752, Discipline and Adverse Actions and established collective bargaining agreements.

 

(4) Reviewing employees’ requests for approval to serve as officers, board members, or liaisons to outside organizations as representatives of the Service. Forwarding these requests, as appropriate, to the servicing Ethics Counselor for review.     

 

(5) Making recommendations to the servicing Ethics Counselor regarding employees’ requests for approval to serve as officers or board members in outside organizations in their personal capacity when the outside entities are prohibited sources.

 

F. Employees

(1) Obtaining required approvals before you begin service as an officer, board member, or liaison to an outside organization in your official capacity.

 

(2) When you propose serving as an officer or board member with an outside organization in your personal capacity, completing FWS Form 3-2433, Disclosure – Serving as a Board Member/Officer on a Non-Federal Organization in a Personal Capacity.

 

(a) If the organization is not a prohibited source, you are only required to notify your supervisor.

 

(b) If the organization is a prohibited source, you must receive approval from your supervisor and Ethics Counselor before assuming the role.

 

(3) Seeking counsel from your supervisor and Regional/Headquarters Assistant Ethics Counselor for issues related to potential conflicts of interest.

 

 

For more information about this policy, contact your servicing Ethics Counselor. For more information about this Web site, contact Krista Bibb in the Division of Policy and Directives Management.

 

 

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