212 FW 4
Participation with non-Federal Organizations in a Personal or Official Capacity

Supersedes 212 FW 6, FWM 424, 07/09/03

Date: November 9, 2017

Series: General Administration and Ethics

Part 212: Ethics

 

 

PDF Version

 

                                                                                    TABLE OF CONTENTS

Topics

Sections

Overview

 

4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?    

4.2 What is the Service’s policy regarding employee participation with non-Federal organizations?    

4.3 What are the authorities for this chapter?

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

Responsibilities

4.5 Who is responsible for ensuring that employees avoid conflicts of interest as described in this chapter?

Requirements

 

4.6 Personal Capacity: What steps must you take and what Ethics rules apply when you participate with a non-Federal organization in your personal capacity?

A.     Member of a non-Federal organization.

B.     Officer, board member, trustee, or similar position.

 

4.7 Official Capacity: What steps must you take and what Ethics rules apply when you participate with a non-Federal organization in your official capacity?  

A.     Advisory board member.

B.     Liaison with a non-Federal organization.

C.    Officer, member of a board of directors, trustee, or similar position for a nonprofit organization.

D.    Officer, member of a board of directors, trustee, or similar position for a for-profit organization.

 

Payment for Dues, Fees, Travel, and Other costs

4.8 Will the Service pay for employees to participate in professional societies or organizations?

 

OVERVIEW

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

 

A. Establishes policy and procedures for employees in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) when they engage in scientific, scholarly, and other activities with non-Federal organizations in either their personal or official capacity;

 

B. Provides guidelines and procedures when employees want to participate in professional organizations either in their personal capacity or official capacity; and 

 

C. Supplements the Department of the Interior’s (Department) Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities policy (see 305 Departmental Manual (DM) 3).

 

4.2 What is the Service’s policy regarding employee participation with non-Federal organizations? It is Service policy to:

 

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

 

B. Encourage employee participation in non-Federal professional organizations to enhance their professional development when it advances the mission, programs, and operations of the Service; and

 

C. Encourage employees to serve in their official capacity as liaisons or advisory board members rather than as a part of the governing structure of non-Federal organizations in which they participate, especially in situations where the Service wants a cooperative, consultative role with the other organization. 

 

(1) The reason for this preference is that when an employee serves in their official capacity as a liaison or advisory board member and not an officer, board member, or trustee for a non-Federal organization, they represent the Government and do not assume a fiduciary duty with the other organization. Fiduciary duties may conflict with an employee’s loyalty to the Constitution and Federal laws.

 

(2) In addition, while servicing Ethics Counselors may approve an employee’s service as a liaison, if an employee wants to serve as an officer, board member, or trustee in an official capacity, he/she must get approval from the Service Director and the Departmental Ethics Office.

 

4.3 What are the authorities for this chapter?

 

A. Acceptance of Travel and Related Expenses from Non-Federal Sources (31 U.S.C. 1353).

 

B. Activities of Officers and Employees in Claims Against and Other Matters Affecting the Government (18 U.S.C. 205).

 

C. Acts Affecting a Personal Financial Interest (18 U.S.C. 208).

 

D. Compensation to Members of Congress, Officers, and Others in Matters Affecting the Government (18 U.S.C. 203).

 

E. Franking Privilege (18 U.S.C. 1719).

 

F. Government Employees Training Act (5 U.S.C. 4101). 

 

G. Lobbying with Appropriated Moneys (18 U.S.C. 1913).

 

H. Salary of Government Officials and Employees Payable only by the United States (18 U.S.C. 209).

 

I. Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 CFR 2635).

 

J. 305 DM 3, Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities.

 

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

 

A. Advisory board means a body that provides non-binding strategic advice to the management of a corporation, organization, foundation, etc. An advisory board does not have authority to vote on corporate matters or bear legal fiduciary duty responsibilities.

 

B. Disclaimer is a statement that you are providing your own views and are not speaking on behalf of the Service, such as the following:

 

(1) Written example: “The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not represent the official views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.’’

 

(2) Verbal example: “I am expressing my personal views and not those of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

 

C. Fiduciary duty means a position of trust and an obligation to act in the best interest of another. This includes being completely loyal at all times and avoiding conflicts of interest. As Federal employees, our primary fiduciary duty is to the Service. Competing fiduciary duties, such as those you have to the Service and those you may assume as an officer, board member, or trustee for a non-Federal organization, may create an actual or apparent conflict of interest.

 

D. Liaison means serving, in an official capacity, as the Service’s representative to a non-Federal organization to exchange comments, views, or opinions regarding those matters in which the Service has an interest. A liaison is a non-voting role, and the person in that role does not participate in matters related to the other organization’s management and allocation of funds.   

 

E. Non-Federal organization means any entity that is not a part of the Federal Government. The term includes for-profit corporations; nonprofit organizations; corporations created by Federal law that have been privatized; partnerships; and civic, religious, educational, professional, and scientific organizations.

 

F. Nonprofit organization means an organization that is not organized for profit and has received tax-exempt status under any subsection of section 501 of the United States Internal Revenue Code.

 

G. Nonpublic information is information that you gain because of your Federal employment and that you know or reasonably should know has not been made available to the general public. It includes information that you know or reasonably should know:

 

(1) Is routinely exempt from disclosure or is otherwise protected from disclosure by statute, executive order, or regulation. It includes classified information and controlled, unclassified information, such as personally identifiable information and information protected by the Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C 1905), Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552(a), and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. 552). FOIA, for example, allows agencies to protect from disclosure pre-decisional and deliberative information, which may include drafts, reports, and other information;

 

(2) Is designated as confidential by an agency; or

 

(3) Has not been disseminated to the general public and employees are not authorized to make it available to the public on request.

 

H. Officer, board member, or trustee is an individual serving in a position of trust within a non-Federal organization who has a fiduciary duty (an obligation to act in the best interest of an entity) to the non-Federal organization. An officer is usually an executive of the organization, such as a President, Chief Executive Officer, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer. A board member is a member of the Board of Directors or governing body of the organization. A trustee is responsible for executing a trust, estate, or other interest under a written or implied agreement to administer it for the benefit of someone else.  

 

I. Official capacity means on official Government duty or serving as a representative of the Service. When serving in an official capacity, you may use official time, property, equipment, supplies, services, staff, and your official position, including your title, agency name, email address, physical office address, and official phone number.

 

J. Personal capacity means off-duty, representing yourself (not the Service) in your individual or private capacity. When serving in a personal capacity, you may not use official time, property, equipment, supplies, services, staff, or your official email address, physical office address, or phone number. You also may not use your official position, including your title or agency name, except: 

 

(1) If teaching, speaking, or writing as an outside activity, you may include this information as one of several biographical details to identify yourself if the title or position is not given more prominence than other significant biographical details; and

 

(2) In connection with an article published in a scientific or professional journal if it is accompanied by a prominent disclaimer. (See 117 FW 1 and 212 FW 12.)

 

K. Prohibited source is any person, company, or organization that does business with the Service, is seeking to do business with the Service, conducts operations that are regulated by the Service, or has any interests that might be affected by the performance or non-performance of the employee’s official duties, or is an organization a majority of whose members are described above. (See 5 CFR 2635.203(d).) Some examples of prohibited sources with the Service include, but are not limited to, American Fisheries Society, Ducks Unlimited, Friends organizations, National Wildlife Society, oil companies, Pheasants Forever, Service contractors, and timber companies.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES

4.5 Who is responsible for ensuring that employees avoid conflicts of interest as described in this chapter?

                                                            Table 4-1: Responsibilities for this Conflict of Interest Policy

These employees…

Are responsible for…

A. The Director (required by Secretarial Order 3288 to serve as the Service Ethics Counselor)

(1) Ensuring there are policies and procedures in place for employees to avoid conflicts of interest when serving in non-Federal organizations, and

 

(2) Approving or declining requests for authorization of assignment and conflict of interest waivers.

B. Directorate members

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

 

(2) Signing the required Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding an employee’s official participation with a non-Federal organization when serving as a liaison or as an officer, board member, or trustee in an official capacity; and  

 

(3) Reviewing and forwarding, as appropriate, recommendations to the Director for employees requesting authorization of assignment to serve in an official capacity as an officer, board member, or trustee of a non-Federal organization.  

C. The Service Deputy Ethics Counselor and Associate Ethics Counselors

(1) Working with employees to draft and coordinate required documents for participation in an official capacity with a non-Federal organization;

(2) Making recommendations to the Director regarding requests for authorization of employee assignments to serve in an official capacity as officers, board members, or trustees for non-Federal organizations;

 

(3) Advising Assistant Ethics Counselors and employees to help them comply with this chapter; and 

 

(4) 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) Assisting, reviewing, and approving employees’ requests to   participate or serve on boards for non-Federal organizations in their personal capacities;

 

(3) Assisting and reviewing employees’ requests to serve as liaisons with non-Federal organizations in their official capacities; and

 

(4) Notifying the Service’s Deputy Ethics Counselor and Associate Ethics Counselors of approvals for employees to serve in an official or personal capacity as an officer, board member, or trustee for a non-Federal organization. 

E. Supervisors

 

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

 

(2) Assisting, reviewing, and approving (when appropriate) employees’ requests to participate or serve on boards with a non-Federal organization; and

 

(3) Taking appropriate administrative and disciplinary action if employees do not comply with this guidance.

F. Employees

(1) Complying with the requirements in this chapter, 305 DM 3, and 212 FW 1;

 

(2) Following the procedures in sections 4.6 and 4.7; and  

 

(3) Seeking counsel from their supervisors and Regional/Headquarters Assistant Ethics Counselors for issues related to conflicts of interest.

 

REQUIREMENTS

 

4.6 Personal Capacity: What steps must you take and what Ethics rules apply when you participate with a non-Federal organization in your personal capacity? How the rules apply depends on how you would serve in the organization. The tables below address potential roles.

 

A. Member of a non-Federal organization.

 

Table 4.6A: Personal Capacity – Member of a Non-Federal Organization

Policy: Unless an outside activity is prohibited by statute or regulation, you may serve as a member of, pay membership dues, and participate in non-Federal organizations, including professional associations, civic, religious, or scouting groups, etc. in your personal capacity without additional approval from your supervisor or the Ethics Office if you comply with the ethics requirements below.

Approval Process: No ethics approval is required to be a member of a non-Federal organization in your personal capacity. If you are employed by, or are providing professional services or advice for compensation, consult with an Ethics Counselor to determine if ethics approval is required. See 212 FW 5 for more information.  

Ethics Requirements: When serving as a member of a non-Federal organization in your personal capacity, you must act exclusively outside the scope of your official position and  comply with all applicable conflict of interest statutes (18 U.S.C. 201-209) and ethics regulations (5 CFR 2635). For additional information and examples regarding these laws and regulations, see 212 FW 5.

You May NOT:

(1)   Give preferential treatment to the non-Federal organization when conducting your official duties. You must ensure that you do not create an appearance that you are using your public office to assist the non-Federal organization in any way. (5 CFR 2635.502)

 

(2)   Represent the interests of the non-Federal organization to any officer or employee of the executive or judicial branches of the Federal Government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 203 and 205

 

(3)   Use or allow anyone else to use, your Government position, title, or authority in connection with your personal speaking or writing, except that you may include or permit the inclusion of your title or position as one of several biographical details when such information is given to identify you and that title or position is given no more prominence than other significant biographical details. Also, if your title or position is used in such a manner, you must include a disclaimer stating that you are providing your own views and are not speaking on behalf of the Service. (5 CFR 2635.702 and 807(b))

 

(4)   Use any appropriated funds, Government resources (including personnel and your Service email address), or official time on behalf of the non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.704 and 705) The only limited exception to this prohibition is that employees may use Government office equipment and internet access when permitted by 410 DM 2.

 

(5)   Disclose non-public information or allow its improper use to further the interests of the non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.703)

 

(6)   Use official Government postage, stationery, envelopes, or labels for anything other than official Government business. (18 U.S.C. 1719)

 

(7)   Solicit funds or other support for the non-Federal organization from subordinates or prohibited sources. You may not use your official title or position or conduct fundraising for the organization in the workplace. (5 CFR 2635.808(c))

 

B. Officer, board member, trustee, or similar position with a non-Federal organization.

 

Table 4.6B: Personal Capacity – Officer, Board Member, Trustee, or Similar Position

Policy: You may serve, in a personal capacity, as an officer, board member, or trustee for a non-Federal organization if you comply with the ethics requirements below.

Approval Process:

 

(1)   If the non-Federal organization is not a prohibited source, you may serve in your personal capacity without additional approval from your supervisor or the Ethics Office. However, you must comply with the ethics requirements below. If you are unsure whether the organization is a prohibited source, you may use the online “Ethics Decision Tree: Is the person or organization a “prohibited source?” or contact your serving Ethics Counselor for advice.  

 

(2)   If the non-Federal organization is a prohibited source, you must complete FWS Form 3-2441, Request for Approval to Engage in Outside Employment or Activity with a Prohibited Source. Your supervisor must make a recommendation to your servicing Ethics Counselor, noting if the activity or the non-Federal organization may be in conflict with your Service duties. Your servicing Ethics Counselor will approve or disapprove the request. For additional information, see 212 FW 5. You must comply with the ethics requirements below.

Ethics Requirements: If serving in your personal capacity as an officer, director, or trustee (or similar position) of a non-Federal organization, you must adhere to all applicable conflict of interest statutes (18 U.S.C. 201-209) and ethics regulations (5 CFR 2635), including those below. For additional information and examples, see 212 FW 5. (The statutes and regulations below apply regardless of whether the organization is a prohibited source.) 

You Must:

(1)   Stop the activity if your service with the non-Federal organization conflicts with your official duties or prevents you from accomplishing your Federal job. (5 CFR  2635.802)

 

(2)   Disclose your outside position and any income on your financial disclosure report (Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Form 278 or OGE Form 450) if you file a financial disclosure report on an annual basis. (5 CFR 2634.302, 307 and 907)

You May NOT:

(1)   Participate in any official Service matter (including providing recommendations or advice) that could affect your financial interests or the financial interests of an organization on which you serve as an officer or director. You should consult with your servicing Ethics Counselor for advice if it appears that your official actions may impact the financial interests of the non-Federal entity, or if the non-Federal entity is a party to any matter in which you are performing official duties. (18 U.S.C. 208, 5 CFR 2635.402

 

(2)   Give preferential treatment to the non-Federal organization when performing your official duties. You must not create an appearance that you are using your public office to assist the non-Federal organization in any way. (5 CFR 2635.502)

 

(3)   Represent the interests of the non-Federal organization to any officer or employee of the executive or judicial branches of the Federal Government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 203 and 205

 

(4)  Use, or allow anyone else to use, your Government position, title, or authority to identify you in connection with your personal speaking or writing. However, you may include your title or position as one of several biographical details if your title or position is given no more prominence than other significant biographical details. Also, if your title or position is used in such a manner, you must include a disclaimer stating that you are providing your own views and are not speaking on behalf of the Service.   (5 CFR 2635.702 and 807(b))

 

(5)   Use any appropriated funds, Government resources (including personnel and your Service email address), or official time on behalf of the non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.704 and 705) The only limited exception to this prohibition is that employees may use Government office equipment and internet access when permitted by 410 DM 2.

 

(6)   Disclose non-public information or allow its improper use to further the interests of a non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.703)

 

(7)   Use official Government postage, stationery, envelopes, or labels for anything other than official Government business. (18 U.S.C. 1719)

 

(8)   Solicit funds or other support for the non-Federal organization from subordinates or prohibited sources. You must not use your official title or position or conduct fundraising for the organization in the workplace. (5 CFR 2635.808(c))

 

Example 1: A Service Biologist wants to become a member of a professional society in her personal capacity. Employees may become members of and participate in non-Federal organizations, including professional associations, civic, religious, or scouting groups, etc. in their personal capacity without additional approval from their supervisors or the Ethics Office. However, the Biologist must comply with the Federal ethics laws and regulations.

 

Example 2: A Refuge Manager has been asked to serve as a board member, in his personal capacity, for a local environmental group that has participated as a partner in Service projects. Because the environmental group has interests that may be affected by the performance of the Refuge Manager’s official duties, it is a prohibited source, so the employee is required to obtain his supervisor's recommendation and Ethics Counselor approval using FWS Form 3-2441, before beginning this work.

 

Example 3: A Service Budget Analyst is elected to serve as the president of his child’s school Parent Teacher Association in his personal capacity. If the school is not a prohibited source, then no additional approval is required from his supervisor or the Ethics Office to participate in this role. However, he must comply with the Federal ethics laws and regulations.

 

Example 4: A senior Service manager is elected to serve in her personal capacity as a member of the board of directors for a youth scouting organization. The scouting organization receives funds from the Service, so it is a prohibited source. By regulation, the manager is required to obtain her supervisor's recommendation and written Ethics Counselor approval. The manager must fill out FWS Form 3-2441 before beginning this volunteer activity.

The organization would also like to put the manager’s picture and biographical information on their website with similar information about other board members. The manager may provide the organization with her personal contact information for board purposes, but she may not allow them to use her official title, agency name, email address, physical office address, or official phone number on their website contact list. She may allow them to use any of the following titles under her picture on their website:

·        Senior Federal Agency Leader,

·        Senior Federal Government Executive,

·        Senior Federal Government Executive - Natural Resources Agency, or

·        Senior Executive - Federal Natural Resources Agency.

She may also allow them to use her title and position as one of several biographical details in a biographical summary if this information is given no more prominence than other significant biographical details.

 

Example 5: An employee is the president, in his personal capacity, of the non-partisan “Fund our Schools” organization whose goal is to gain support for an initiative on the state ballot. He is leading the fundraising effort for the organization. The “Fund our Schools” organization is not a prohibited source, so no additional approval is required from his supervisor or the Ethics Office to participate in this role. However, he must comply with all Federal ethics laws and regulations. The employee should be aware that the Hatch Act prohibits Federal employees from fundraising and other activities related to partisan political campaigns. See 212 FW 6.

 

4.7 Official Capacity: What steps must you take and what Ethics rules apply when you participate with a non-Federal organization in your official capacity? How the rules apply depends on how you would serve in the organization. The tables below address potential roles.

 

A. Advisory board member.

 

Table 4.7A: Official Capacity - Advisory Board Member

Policy: You may serve in an official capacity on advisory boards, committees, and similar organizations that provide non-binding strategic advice to the management of a non-governmental or non-Federal entity, if:

 

(1)   The advisory board does not have the authority to vote on management matters or bear legal fiduciary duty responsibilities;  

 

(2)   The advisory board is not organized as a separate legal entity (i.e., nonprofit organization, limited liability corporation, limited partnership, etc.) to which an independent fiduciary duty or duty of loyalty is owed by advisory board members of the organization under state or local law;

 

(3)   You comply with the ethics requirements below; and

 

(4)   You receive the required Service approval.

Approval Process: You must receive approval from your supervisor to serve on an advisory committee of a non-Federal organization in your official capacity (see Exhibit 1 for a memorandum template entitled, Advisory Board Request for Approval). 

Ethics Requirements: When serving as a member of an advisory board in your official capacity:

You May:

(1)   Accept travel expenses from the non-Federal organization only if you are on an official travel authorization and have received supervisor and Ethics Office approval in advance on Form DI 2000 to attend meetings or other similar events for the organization (see 212 FW 3). 

 

(2)   Use official time in coordination with your supervisor to perform your officially assigned duties and responsibilities with the non-Federal organization. You do not have to take annual leave to conduct these duties.

 

(3)   Use Government equipment, supplies, services, and staff to carry out officially assigned duties with non-Federal organizations.

 

(4)   Use your official title as a reference, identifier, or to promote attendance at a public meeting or presentation when participating in an official capacity. (You may not use your official title to imply endorsement of the non-Federal organization or its products or services, if any.) 

 

(5)   Communicate verbally or in writing on behalf of the Service regarding Service programs, operations, or activities if you comply with the requirements in 115 FW 1 and 115 FW 2 on official communications. If the Service has taken an official position or established official policy on an issue, your statements must be consistent with that position or policy. If the Service has not taken an official position or established an official policy on an issue, you may state your professional opinion if you include a disclaimer to that effect with your statement. 

 

You May NOT:

 

 

(1) Participate in any management activities of the non-Federal organization, including voting on organizational administrative matters or on organizational policy decisions, or rendering advice or making decisions regarding contracts or finances of the organization.

 

(2) Represent the interests of the non-Federal organization to any officer or employee of the executive or judicial branches of the Federal Government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 203 and 205. This does not prohibit you when serving on an advisory board from presenting information about the positions and views of the non-Federal organization to the Service as part of your official duties.

 

(3) Receive a salary or any compensation or supplementation of your Federal salary from anyone other than the United States for performing your official duties. (18 U.S.C. 209)

 

(4) Accept gifts from a prohibited source or given because of your official position, unless an exception listed in the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR 2635.204, applies.

 

(5) Use any appropriated funds, official time, or Government equipment to instigate or generate lobbying activity on any issue pending before or of interest to the Congress or an official of any government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 1913.    

 

(6) Be involved in an official capacity in any fundraising activities of the non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.808

 

(7) Disclose non-public information or allow its improper use to further the interests of the non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.703)

 

(8) Use official Government postage, stationery, envelopes, or labels for anything other than official Government business. (18 U.S.C. 1719)

 

B. Liaison with a non-Federal organization.

 

Table 4.7B: Official Capacity - Liaison

Policy: You may serve as a liaison to a non-Federal organization in your official capacity if you receive the appropriate Service approval and comply with the ethics requirements below. We encourage your service in this role rather than serving as an officer or member of the board of directors for the organization.

Approval Process: To serve as a liaison, you must contact your Assistant Ethics Counselor to initiate a Liaison Agreement and receive supervisor and Directorate member approval. (See Exhibit 2 for a Liaison Agreement template)

Ethics Requirements: When serving as an official liaison in your official capacity:

You May:

 

 

(1)   Accept travel expenses from the non-Federal organization only if you are on an official travel authorization and have received supervisory and Ethics Office approval with Form DI 2000 to attend meetings or other similar events of the organization. (See 212 FW 3.

 

(2)   Use official time in coordination with your supervisor to perform your officially assigned duties and responsibilities with the non-Federal organization. You do not have to take annual leave to conduct these duties.

 

(3)   Use Government equipment, supplies, services, and staff to carry out officially assigned duties with non-Federal organizations.

 

(4)   Use your official title as a reference, identifier, or to promote attendance at a public meeting or presentation when participating in an official capacity. (You may not use your official title to imply endorsement of the non-Federal organization or its products or services, if any.) 

 

(5)   Communicate verbally or in writing on behalf of the Service regarding Service programs, operations, or activities if you comply with the requirements in 115 FW 1 and 115 FW 2. If the Service has taken an official position or established official policy on an issue, your statements must be consistent with that position or policy. If the Service has not taken an official position or established an official policy on an issue, you may state your professional opinion if you include a disclaimer to that effect with your statement. 

You May NOT:

(1)   Participate in any management activities of the non-Federal organization, including voting on organizational administrative matters or on organizational policy decisions, or rendering advice or making decisions regarding contracts or finances of the organization. 

 

(2)   Represent the interests of the non-Federal organization to any officer or employee of the executive or judicial branches of the Federal Government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 203 and 205. This does not prohibit you from presenting information about the positions and views of the non-Federal organization to the Service when approved as part of your official duties.

 

(3)   Receive a salary or any compensation or supplementation of your Federal salary from anyone other than the United States for performing your official duties. (18 U.S.C. 209)

 

(4)   Accept gifts given by a prohibited source or given because of your official position, unless an exception listed in the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR 2635.204, applies.

 

(5)   Use any appropriated funds, official time, or Government equipment to instigate or generate lobbying activity on any issue pending before or of interest to the Congress or an official of any government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 1913.  

      

(6)   Be involved in an official capacity in any fundraising activities for the non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.808

 

(7)   Disclose non-public information, or allow its improper use, to further the interests of the non-Federal organization. (5 CFR 2635.703)   

 

(8)   Use official Government postage, stationery, envelopes, or labels for anything other than official Government business. (18 U.S.C. 1719)

 

C. Officer, member of a board of directors, trustee, or similar position for a nonprofit organization.

 

Table 4.7C: Official Capacity – Officer, member of board of directors, trustee, or similar position for a nonprofit organization.

Policy: You may serve as an officer, member of a board of directors, trustee, or in a similar position with a nonprofit organization in your official capacity if you receive the appropriate Service approval and comply with the ethics requirements below. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) regulation, 5 CFR 2640.203(m), permits Federal employees, subject to approval by their agencies, to serve as officers, directors, and trustees of nonprofit organizations in their official capacity. The Service Director must approve your participation in writing before you begin serving in that role. Your service as an officer, director, or trustee (or in a similar position) of a nonprofit organization may create an actual or apparent conflict of interest or may affect your ability to act impartially. If you hold this position, you must avoid any activity that may create the potential for preferential treatment, improper endorsement, inappropriate use of official time, actual or potential loss of impartiality, disclosure of non-public information, or any situation that would adversely affect the public’s confidence in the Service. 

Approval Process:

 

(1) Complete Worksheet. You must fill out the Outside Board Service Worksheet (Exhibit 3) and contact your Assistant Ethics Counselor to begin the authorization process. The entire authorization process can take up to 3 months.

 

(2) Prepare Documents. Your Assistant Ethics Counselor will contact an Associate Ethics Counselor to assist with the preparation of the documents described below:

 

(a)   An MOU signed with the nonprofit organization:

 

(i)     The MOU must explain that your primary duty of loyalty is to the Service if the interests of the Government conflict with the interests of the nonprofit organization. 

 

(ii)   The MOU must be signed by a representative of the nonprofit organization and a Service Directorate member who has the authority to sign on behalf of the Service;

 

(b)   A recusal letter signed by you and your supervisor documenting allowable and prohibited activities while serving in this role. For a list of those ethics responsibilities, see the “Ethics Requirements” below; and

 

(c) An Authorization of Assignment signed by the Director. The Ethics Office will only process Authorizations of Assignment for service with organizations that have current nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service. 

 

 (3) Office of the Solicitor Review. Before the Director approves your service, the Associate Ethics Counselor is required to provide the documents above to the Departmental Ethics Office within the Office of the Solicitor for review. The Departmental Ethics Office will apply the following criteria when recommending whether the Director should approve your service as a board member, officer, trustee, or other similar position:

 

(a)    Number of Departmental employees serving on the same board in an official capacity. If more than 49% of the board’s members (including your participation) would be made up of Departmental employees, the Departmental Ethics Office will reject your request. If the board represents a local chapter of a national organization, the percentage requirement applies only to the local board. 

 

(b)    Service funding to the non-Federal organization. If the non-Federal organization has a contract or cooperative agreement with the Service, the Departmental Ethics Office may reject your request. Funding from the Service to the non-Federal organization for routine purposes (e.g., co-sponsored events, conference fees, or printing costs) will not prevent the request from being approved.

 

(c)    Other. The Departmental Ethics Office will:

 

(i)  Check the organization’s website to ensure that other Service employees are not serving on the board in an unauthorized status. If employees are serving in an unauthorized status, the situation must be mitigated before the Departmental Ethics Office will recommend approval for the employee requesting to serve;

 

(ii)  Check that Service employees serving in their personal capacity on the board are not using their official contact information for personal purposes. If there are any, the situation must be mitigated before the Departmental Ethics Office will recommend approval for the employee requesting to serve; and

 

(iii)  Determine if there are any other legal or policy issues that require disapproval.

 

(4) Director (Service Ethics Counselor) Approval. After clearance through the Departmental Ethics Office, the Service’s Ethics Office will submit the Authorization of Assignment to the Director for final approval. Once approved, you may begin serving in this role.

Ethics Requirements: When serving in your official capacity as an officer, member of a board of directors, trustee, or in similar position with a nonprofit organization:

You May:

(1)   Accept travel expenses from the nonprofit organization only if you are on an official travel authorization and have received supervisor and Ethics Office approval with Form DI 2000 to attend meetings or other similar events of the organization. (See 212 FW 3.

 

(2)   Use official time in coordination with your supervisor to perform your officially assigned duties and responsibilities with the nonprofit. You are not required to take annual leave to conduct these duties.

 

(3)   Use Government equipment, supplies, services, and staff to carry out official assigned duties with nonprofit organizations subject to the limitations in the authorization of assignment.

 

(4)   Use your official title as a reference, identifier, or to promote attendance at a public meeting or presentation when participating in an official capacity. (You may not use your official title to imply endorsement of the nonprofit organization or its products or services, if any.) 

 

(5)   Communicate on behalf of the Service regarding Service programs, operations, or activities if you comply with the requirements in 115 FW 1 and 115 FW 2. If the Service has taken an official position or established official policy on an issue, your statements must be consistent with that position or policy. If the Service has not taken an official position or established an official policy on an issue, you may state your professional opinion if you include a disclaimer with your statement. 

You May NOT:

(1)   Represent the interests of the nonprofit organization to any officer or employee of the executive or judicial branches of the Federal Government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 203 and 205. This does not prohibit you from presenting information about the positions and views of the nonprofit organization to the Service when properly approved as part of your official duties.

 

(2) Receive a salary or any compensation or supplementation of your Federal salary from anyone other than the United States for performing your official duties. (18 U.S.C. 209)

 

(3) Accept gifts given by a prohibited source or given because of your official position, unless an exception listed in the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR 2635.204, applies.

 

(4) Use any appropriated funds, official time, or Government equipment to instigate or generate lobbying activity on any issue pending before or of interest to the Congress or an official of any government, consistent with 18 U.S.C. 1913.    

 

(5) Be involved in an official capacity in any fundraising activities of the nonprofit organization. (5 CFR 2635.808

 

(6) Disclose non-public information, or allow its improper use, to further the interests of the nonprofit organization. (5 CFR 2635.703)   

 

(7) Use official Government postage, stationery, envelopes, or labels for anything other than official Government business. (18 U.S.C. 1719)

 

Example 1: A Service manager has been asked to serve on a local university advisory board in her official capacity. The board makes curriculum and training recommendations to the university’s governing body to improve degree programs. Because this board is not a decision-making body or the governing body of the university, only supervisor approval is required to add this responsibility to her official duties. Ethics approval is not required. However, we recommend that the manager check with her Ethics Counselor to ensure that there are no other issues of concern.

 

Example 2: A Wildlife Biologist has been asked to serve as a board member for a professional society as part of his official duties. Federal regulations and Departmental policy require that the Service Director approve his official participation as a board member or officer to an outside organization before beginning service in that role.

 

Example 3: A Service scientist is approved by the Director to serve in her official capacity as the president of a professional society. The professional society takes a position on an issue that is in direct conflict with the Service's official position on the same issue. The society asks the Service manager to sign a letter representing the society's position on that issue. The scientist must decline to sign the letter on behalf of the society because it is in conflict with the Service’s position, and she is serving on the board as an official representative of the Service. Another society officer should sign the letter.

 

Example 4: A Service manager is approved by the Director to serve in his official capacity as a board member for a nonprofit fishing and hunting organization. During the board meeting, the organization agrees to take a position on a proposed regulation. The Service has already taken a position in support of the regulation. As a representative of the Service, the Service manager must articulate the Service position on this regulation. He may not provide his personal opinions on this issue.

 

Example 5: A Service scientist is approved by the Director to serve in her official capacity as a board member for a nonprofit professional organization. During a board meeting, the organization agrees to take a position on a proposed regulation. The Service has not taken a position on this issue or the regulation. The Service scientist may provide her professional opinion on this issue if she provides a disclaimer. 

 

D. Officer, member of a board of directors, trustee, or similar position for a for-profit organization.

 

(1) The criminal conflict of interest statute, 18 U.S.C. 208(a), requires that an employee refrain from participating personally and substantially in an official capacity in any particular matter that will have a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of an organization in which the individual serves as an officer, director, trustee, or employee.

 

(2) This conflict of interest statute prohibits service, as an official duty activity, as an officer, director, or in another similar position for a for-profit non-Federal organization. The exceptions are if there is:

 

(a)   A specific statutory authority placing a Federal employee in an officer or director position in an ex officio capacity,

 

(b)   A release of fiduciary obligations by the organization (if permitted by state law), or

 

(c)   A waiver of the requirements of section 208(a) has been approved (see section 4.7D(3) below).

 

(3) In some circumstances, the Service Director may grant a waiver in consultation with the Departmental Ethics Office and OGE. They base this on determining that the financial interest involved is not so substantial as to be likely to affect the integrity of the Service. (18 U.S.C. 208(b)(1))

 

(4) You must contact your servicing Ethics Counselor if you are interested in serving on the board of a for-profit organization.

 

Payment for Dues, Fees, Travel, and Other costs

 

4.8 Will the Service pay for employees to participate in professional societies or organizations?

 

A. Dues or fees.

 

(1) We cannot use appropriated funds to pay for individual employees’ personal membership fees or dues unless the payment is for an employee to be certified as a trainer as authorized under the Government Employees Training Act (5 U.S.C. 4101).

 

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

 

B. Travel for meetings: See 265 FW 11 for guidance on approval for Government-funded travel to meetings of professional societies and other non-Federal organizations. 

 

C. Other costs:

 

(1) Subscriptions to periodicals: We may use appropriated funds for buying books and periodicals, including subscriptions, if it is for the Service (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.  

 

For more information about this policy, contact your servicing Ethics Counselor. For more information about this website, contact Krista Bibb in the Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs.

 

  Directives Home

PPM Websites: Centralized Library of Servicewide Policies | PPM Services

Privacy, Disclaimer and Copyright Information | Information Quality Act

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  | USA.gov  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA