212 FW 3,  Appendix 1, Approval Process

FWM#:     193 (new)
Date:         June 12, 1995
Series:       General Administration
Part 212:    Ethics
Originating Office: Division of Personnel Management  

Approval Process for the Acceptance of Payment From a Non-

Federal Source for Travel Expenses Under 31 U.S.C. 1353

1. Supervisory and managerial officials must make advance written analyses and determinations on three issues before the Service can accept payments from non-Federal sources under the authority of 31 U.S.C. 1353. Officials must determine that (a) the traveling employee will attend a meeting or similar function; (b) the travel relates to the employee's official duties; and (c) the payment is from a non-Federal source that is not disqualified on the basis of conflict of interest. (Below are guidelines to assist in making these determinations.)

Regarding the acceptance of payment for an accompanying spouse, it is the policy of the Department that the authority be used rarely. In those rare situations, a substantive written analysis and determination must be made that the spouse's presence at the meeting or similar function will support the mission of the Service or substantially assist the employee in carrying out his/her duties through attendance at or participation in the meeting or similar function.

NOTE: It is essential that the required written analyses and determinations fully address the above stated criteria in a clear and complete format to ensure ready action by reviewing/approving officials. Travel requests containing incomplete or insufficient analyses/determinations will be returned without action for additional information and will result in delays in processing.

(a) The employee will attend a meeting or similar function.

The term meeting or similar function is defined as a conference, seminar, speaking engagement, symposium, training course, or similar event that takes place away from the employee's official duty station. Excluded from this term are events required to carry out an agency's statutory and regulatory functions, such as investigations, inspections, audits, or site visits. In other words, an agency could not use 31 U.S.C. 1353 to accept payments from an adverse party to fund a Government attorney's travel to the location of a deposition incident to a bid protest. As stated in the above definition, a meeting or similar function does include a training course, however, it does not include promotional vendor training or other meetings held for the primary purpose of marketing the non-Federal source's products. Note that a meeting or similar function does not need to be widely attended.

(b) The travel relates to the employee's official duties.

Such a determination requires an examination of both the nature of the meeting or similar function and the official duties of the employee. In some instances, a meeting or similar function can relate to an employee's duties even if the subject matter of the event bears no direct relation to the employee's official duties. For example, a security agent's attendance at a conference on hazardous waste may relate to his official duties because he must be present at the meeting to permit participation in the meeting by another employee. Acceptance of payments for travel of an executive assistant or aide could also fall within this category.

(c) The payment is from a non-Federal source that is not disqualified on the basis of conflict of interest.

A non-Federal source means any person or entity other than the Government of the United States. The term also includes any individual, private or commercial entity, or nonprofit organization or association, and extends to any state, local, or foreign government or international or multinational organization. Normally, it will be the non-Federal sponsor of the meeting or similar function that will be the source of the payment, or at least a non-Federal source with an interest in the subject matter of the event. However, payment may be accepted from a non-Federal source that does not have an interest in the subject matter of the meeting or similar function so long as the payment is provided in kind and consists of the types of services the non-Federal source generally provides (e.g., air passenger transportation services provided by a commercial airline). For example, the Service could accept a hotel's offer of a free final night's lodging in connection with a 4-day regional administrator's conference. Note that payment can be accepted from multiple sources in connection with a single event.

Payment from a non-Federal source must not be accepted if it is determined that acceptance under the circumstances would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts relevant to a particular case to question the integrity of the work to be performed by the employee receiving the benefit, or question the integrity of the agency's other program operations. In making this determination, all relevant information should be considered including, but not limited to:

(a) The identity of the non-Federal source and its relationship to the agency;

(b) The purpose of the meeting or similar function and its importance to agency programs and operations;

(c) The identity of other expected participants and their relationship to the agency;

(d) The nature and sensitivity of any pending agency matter that, when decided, may affect the interests of the non-Federal source;

(e) The significance of the employee's role in any such pending matter;

(f) The monetary value and character of the travel benefits offered by the non-Federal source; and

(g) The potential reaction from agency customers, including the public, if the acceptance of travel expenses was made known to them.

2. The DI-1020, Travel Authorization, must be clearly annotated to indicate that either full or partial payment has been authorized under 31 U.S.C. 1353, and that the travel circumstances are in compliance with the criteria for accepting payment under 41 CFR 304-1.4. The actual amount should be indicated if it is known at the time the travel authorization is prepared. This information should be documented in Block 10. Purpose and Remarks of the DI-1020. A signature line for the Regional or Assistant Director should also be included in Block 10. (Click here for DI-1020.)

3. A DI-2000, Report of Payment Accepted From a Non-Federal Source Under 31 U.S.C. 1353, must be completed in its entirety prior to the travel. If exact figures are not available, use best estimate. (Click here for DI-2000)

4. Forward the written analyses and determinations required under paragraph 1, above, the DI-2000, and the DI-1020 via a memorandum recommending acceptance of the payment from a non-Federal source under 31 U.S.C. 1353 to the respective Regional/Assistant Director through the Deputy Ethics Counselor for Headquarters, Assistant Ethics Counselors for Regions 1-7. Requests submitted after the start of the employee's travel cannot be approved for non-Federal payment.

5. The ethics counselor must conduct a technical compliance review of a request for the acceptance of travel payments from a non-Federal entity to ensure the nonexistence of a real or apparent conflict of interest prior to approval by the Regional/Assistant Director. The memorandum required under paragraph 4, above, must contain evidence of concurrence by the ethics counselor.

6. Following approval of the acceptance of non-Federal payment, the original DI-2000 will be returned and retained by the ethics counselor for the purpose of reporting Service use of the statute on a semi-annual basis. 

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

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