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Government Ethics Training for Information Technology or Everything you always wanted to know about

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Asking for or accepting a special restaurant discount because you work for USPS ... Regarding seeking to influence USPS, or certain high level officials at other ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Government Ethics Training for Information Technology or Everything you always wanted to know about


1
Government Ethics Training for Information
Technology- or - Everything you always wanted
to know about government ethics but were afraid
to ask because you knew youd get a very, very
long answer beginning with It depends
  • Wendy A. Hocking
  • Chief Counsel, Ethics and Federal Requirements
  • USPS Law Department
  • July 2002 -- Raleigh, NC

2
ETHICS VS. GOVERNMENT ETHICS
  • Personal ethics
  • Gut feelings
  • Morals and values
  • Government ethics
  • Rules and regulations
  • Not intuitive
  • Develop radar for ethics issues
  • Use available resources

3
GENERAL PRINCIPLES
  • Employee conduct is governed by
  • Standards of Ethical Conduct (www.usoge.gov/pages/
    laws_regs_fedreg_stats/oge_regs/5cfr2635.html)
  • Supplemental USPS Conduct Regulation
    (www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_00/5cfr7001_0
    0.html)
  • Other Statutes, Regulations, Policies,
    Directives, Management Instructions

4
GENERAL PRINCIPLES
  • Training objectives
  • Help you conduct postal business w/o personal
    risk
  • Protect you AND the Postal Service
  • Help you to identify potential ethics issues in
    your work
  • Familiarize you with ethics contacts
  • Satisfy annual training requirements for
    financial disclosure report filers

5
TOPICS TO COVER -- 1st hour
  • Misuse of Position (Time, Property, Nonpublic
    Information)
  • Impartiality and Appearances
  • Gifts from Outside Sources
  • Gifts Between Employees
  • Fundraising

6
TOPICS TO COVER -- 2nd hour
  • Financial Conflicts of Interest
  • Concurrent Outside Employment
  • Seeking and Negotiating for Employment
  • Post-Employment Prohibitions

7
TAKE-AWAYS
  • Rules promote public service is a public trust
    concept
  • Private sector business courtesies can create
    problems for public sector employees
  • Appearances count even if it only APPEARS
    improper, the damage may already be done
  • Dont guess. If you have a question or need
    guidance, ASK AN ETHICS ADVISOR

8
MISUSE OF POSITION
  • 1. Use of public office for private gain
  • 2. Use of nonpublic information
  • 3. Use of government property
  • 4. Use of official time

9
MISUSE OF POSITION
  • Underlying principles
  • Make proper use of official authority, time and
    resources
  • Safeguard information and resources to which you
    have access because of your postal position
  • We are accountable to the public and our
    ratepayers

10
1. USE OF PUBLIC OFFICE FOR PRIVATE GAIN
  • Using your postal position to
  • Try to get special benefits for yourself or
    others
  • Endorse private products, services, individuals,
    companies
  • Perform official duties in a way that is
    advantageous to a private interest -- yours or
    anothers

11
2. USE OF NONPUBLIC INFORMATION
  • Use nonpublic information only in connection with
    official postal business.
  • If you dont know whether information is public,
    assume it isnt
  • Can lead to tipping and insider trading problems
  • Confidentiality need to know

12
3. USE OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY
  • Equipment and services are provided for official
    business purposes
  • Limited Personal Use of Office Equipment
    (EL-660-2000-5)
  • Even under the MI, proper authorization still
    required by your manager, office policy

13
4. USE OF OFFICIAL TIME
  • Its a misuse of official time to
  • Conduct personal business during work hours
  • Conduct non-postal business during work hours
  • Ask a subordinate to perform personal or
    non-postal tasks for you during work hours

14
MISUSE SITUATIONS TO CONSIDER
  • Playing computer games in the office
  • Surfing the internet re vacation plans
  • Making copies of your income tax forms
  • Scheduling a doctors appointment
  • A subordinate picks up a sandwich for you
  • Phoning your child to make sure she got home from
    school and is doing homework

15
DEFINITE MISUSE SITUATIONS
  • Asking for or accepting a special restaurant
    discount because you work for USPS
  • Directing staff to make personal travel
    arrangements for you and your family
  • Using your office time or equipment to conduct
    Amway or Avon business
  • Printing 500 flyers for local Little League team
  • Writing a recommendation on postal letterhead for
    a neighbors grandchild

16
IMPARTIALITY AND APPEARANCES
  • Postal employees must treat customers,
    contractors, vendors, and others, fairly and
    impartially
  • Employees should strive to avoid appearances of
    impropriety
  • Think of it as a question of fairness.
  • Ask Could a reasonable person legitimately
    question the fairness of my actions in this
    matter?

17
IMPARTIALITY AND APPEARANCES
  • Treat friends, neighbors, relatives, and former
    employees who want to do business with us
    (including becoming employed by us) just as you
    would any other member of the public
  • They must follow established procedure for
    obtaining postal information, scheduling
    meetings, submitting proposals.
  • They are not entitled to (nor may you provide, or
    request on their behalf) special treatment.

18
IMPARTIALITY AND APPEARANCES
  • Stick to standard processes and procedures for
    dealing with the public, customers, partners,
    vendors
  • Use the News Observer test
  • Think about how youd feel explaining the
    situation to your boss, your VP, your colleagues,
    your mother or child, the PMG, the IG, a
    congressional committee...

19
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • General rule
  • A postal employee may not accept gifts from
    prohibited sources, or those given because of the
    employees official position.
  • (Some exclusions and exceptions apply in certain
    situations)

20
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • What is a gift?
  • Almost anything of monetary value.
  • MEALS ? EVENT TICKETS
  • PARTIES, RECEPTIONS ? MERCHANDISE
  • TRANSPORTATION ? CASH
  • LODGING ? APPAREL

21
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • What or who is
  • an outside (prohibited) source?
  • Persons or organizations
  • Doing business w/USPS
  • Seeking to do business w/USPS
  • Seeking official action by USPS
  • Regulated by USPS
  • Affected by employees duties

22
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • What things are NOT gifts?
  • Modest refreshments (not offered as a meal)
  • Presentation items (mugs, plaques, pens)
  • Items for which YOU paid market value with
    personal funds
  • Prizes in public contests
  • Frequent Flyer Miles (but some free tickets are
    POSTAL property...) (exclusions)

23
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • MORE things that are not gifts
  • Items paid for by and received from the Postal
    Service (conference items, spot awards,
    departmental apparel, etc.)
  • HOWEVER merchandise that the Postal Service
    receives because of a postal contract or purchase
    is POSTAL PROPERTY you may not keep it for
    personal use.

24
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • EXCEPTIONS to the gifts from outside sources
    rule
  • Personal relationship (almost always)
  • 20 or less value/50 per source per year (the
    20 exception)
  • Perishable items, if shared with office (fruit
    baskets, flowers, etc.)
  • Registration fee, if speaking or presenting at
    the event Certain awards and honorary degrees
  • Travel/entertainment for employment talks (beware
    conflicts!)

25
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • Exceptions may not be used to accept gifts
  • Intended to influence you, or given because of
    your official position
  • Too frequently (public office/private gain)
  • If acceptance would violate a postal policy,
    instruction or directive
  • of CASH, in any amount (20 d/n apply)
  • That were solicited/coerced

26
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • Another exception
  • WIDELY-ATTENDED GATHERINGS
  • Special criteria must be met
  • Requires a written determination of agency
    interest in your attendance (contact an ethics
    official)

27
GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
  • THREE LITTLE WORDS
  • THAT NEVER GOT ANYONE
  • IN TROUBLE
  • No, thank you.

28
GIFTS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES
  • Generally
  • This rule not applicable to peer gift-giving
  • Does not permit accepting gifts from subordinates
    (some exceptions)
  • Does not permit accepting gifts from employees
    who earn less than you do, unless giving is
    entirely motivated by a personal relationship
    (some exceptions)
  • GIFT Almost anything of monetary value.

29
GIFTS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES
  • EXCEPTIONS
  • In connection with regularly-occurring
    occasions, these gifts are permissible
  • items worth 10 or less (10 limit even if funds
    are pooled)
  • Food/refreshments shared in office
  • Hospitality at residence
  • Host/Hostess gifts
  • Leave-sharing (see regulations)

30
GIFTS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES
  • EXCEPTIONS
  • In connection with special infrequent occasions
    such as
  • Marriage
  • Birth or adoption
  • Serious illness
  • Termination of superior/subordinate relationship
  • There is no 10 limit, but
  • Gift should be appropriate to the occasion
  • Contributions to office party/group gift okay,
    but
  • must be voluntary
  • may only suggest, not require, an amount

31
GIFTS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES
  • Also keep in mind that gifts YOU give to
    subordinates
  • May be permissible but inappropriate
  • Can look like sexual harassment
  • Can look like favoritism
  • Can cause morale problems

32
FUNDRAISING
  • What is fundraising?
  • Soliciting for funds or donations, selling food
    or other items, and promoting events for
    charitable causes.

33
FUNDRAISING
  • Federal regulations prohibit
  • Conducting any non-CFC fundraising in the
    workplace
  • (5 C.F.R. Part 950)
  • Participating in any non-CFC fundraising in your
    official capacity, except in accordance with the
    USPS Community Services Policy (ASM 333.7)

34
FUNDRAISING
  • Fundraising unrelated to CFC is not allowed in
    any postal facility or postal workplace
  • Collections of gifts-in-kind are permissible,
    if in compliance with POM requirements
  • Using your official title or the authority of
    your position in connection with fundraising is
    impermissible

35
FUNDRAISING
  • Impermissible activities in the postal workplace
  • Taking Girl Scout cookie orders
  • Soliciting contributions for a church group
  • Using email and putting up posters to promote a
    benefit for a friend, relative, co-worker, or
    neighbor who lost a loved one in the terrorist
    attacks
  • Check out the Community Services Policy to see if
    the activity might be appropriate to receive
    postal resources

36
COMMUNITY SERVICE ACTIVITIES AND SPONSORSHIP
  • Through the Community Service Activities Policy
    (CSAP), employees may seek authorization to
  • Organize a group of postal employees to
    participate in an event
  • Obtain the use of postal resources to further a
    community activity (ex payment of entry fees,
    complimentary use of postal equipment)
  • ONLY A VICE PRESIDENT CAN APPROVE EMPLOYEE
    REQUESTS UNDER CSAP (ASM 333.7)

37
CONFLICTING FINANCIAL INTERESTS
  • Criminal statute
  • 18 U.S.C. 208
  • Standards of Ethical Conduct
  • 5 C.F.R. Part 2635.401
  • You may not act in your official capacity on
    anything in which you have a personal financial
    interest.

38
OTHERS WHOSE INTERESTS ARE IMPUTED TO YOU
  • You also may not act on postal
  • matters in which
  • your spouse
  • your minor children
  • your prospective employer(s)
  • your general partner
  • a person for whom you are a trustee
  • an organization you serve as officer, director,
    or employee
  • has an interest.

39
EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE CONFLICTS
  • Negotiating for future employment
  • (seeking employment)
  • Stock ownership in vendor or alliance co.
    (certain OGE exceptions)
  • Spouse employed by contractors
  • Supervising your spouse
  • Outside concurrent employment or activities
    (whether or not you are paid)
  • Serving in your official capacity on Board of
    non-profit, non-federal organization

40
OPTIONS FOR RESOLUTION OF A CONFLICT
  • Disqualification or Recusal
  • Simple non-participation
  • Notify supervisor
  • Should seek written advice
  • Waiver
  • Must obtain from ethics official
  • Divestiture
  • Seek advice from ethics official -- tax
    consequences!

41
OUTSIDE CONCURRENT EMPLOYMENT ACTIVITIES
  • Conflicts of interest may arise in situations
    involving your employment or activities outside
    of the USPS.
  • Thats why some outside work is prohibited, or
    requires pre-approval. 5 CFR 7001
  • blue.usps.gov/uspslaw/Headquarters/Civil/Ethics
    Info/advisors.htm

42
OUTSIDE CONCURRENT EMPLOYMENT ACTIVITIES
  • Postal employees may not, concurrent with their
    postal employment, be employed by
  • Those who deliver mailable matter OUTSIDE the
    mails (UPS, FedEx, DHL, Airborne, etc.)
  • Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies
  • Uniform or other manufacturers whose products are
    required by USPS for use by its employees or
    customers
  • Others specified in 5 C.F.R. 7001.

43
OUTSIDE CONCURRENT EMPLOYMENT ACTIVITIES
  • Postal employees must seek prior approval before
    engaging in outside employment or activities with
    or for
  • Any person with whom the employee has official
    dealings on behalf of the USPS
  • Any person, including oneself, whose interests
    are substantially dependent upon
  • (or potentially affected to a significant degree
    by) postal rates, fees, or classification, or
  • providing goods or services to or for use in
    connection with the Postal Service.

44
SEEKING OTHER EMPLOYMENT
  • In connection with looking for a job to replace
    your postal position, there is
  • No prohibition against job searches
  • No list of prohibited companies, BUT...
  • If your current official duties involve the
    prospective employer, beware of a conflict of
    interest (18 USC 208)
  • LANDMINES The most obvious and natural
    potential employers are the most dangerous

45
SEEKING EMPLOYMENT
  • WHY?
  • You have a financial interest in a prospective
    employer (18 USC 208)
  • You may not work on matters in which you have a
    financial interest
  • SO -- be VERY careful discussing future
    employment with companies that are affected
    (directly or indirectly) by your postal duties.
    The door is open if you say anything other than
    Thanks, but Im not interested. Talk to an
    ethics official about other options.

46
POST-EMPLOYMENT LAW 18 U.S.C. 207
  • The post-employment law
  • DOES NOT prohibit former employees from working
    for specific companies
  • DOES NOT prohibit former employees from working
    behind the scenes on any postal matter
  • DOES restrict former employees communications
    with and appearances before current postal
    employees on behalf of a third party if intent is
    to influence postal action

47
POST-EMPLOYMENT RESTRICTIONS
  • Four types of bars regarding former postal
    employees communications with current postal
    employees
  • 1. Permanent or Lifetime Bar
  • On particular matters involving specific parties
  • If employee participated personally and
    substantially
  • Lifetime refers to matter, not to you
  • 2. Two-Year Bar
  • On particular matters involving a specific party
  • If under employees responsibility
  • During last year at USPS
  • These apply to all postal employees

48
POST-EMPLOYMENT RESTRICTIONS
  • 3. One-Year Cooling Off Bar
  • Applies only to Senior (130,000 in CY2002) or
    Very Senior employees
  • Regarding seeking to influence postal action
  • On behalf of a third party, in ANY matter
  • 4. One-Year VERY SENIOR ONLY Bar
  • Very Senior employees (166,700 in CY2002)
  • Regarding seeking to influence USPS, or certain
    high level officials at other agencies, in
    official matters
  • No representation of foreign govts or political
    parties
  • Before any U.S. department or agency
  • With intent to influence a decision
  • No aiding or advising with intent to influence a
    decision

49
OBLIGATION TO REPORT
  • Federal regulations require all government
    employees -- including postal employees -- to
    disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to
    appropriate authorities. 5 CFR
    2635.101(b)(11)
  • To report a suspected violation, please contact
    the Postal Inspection Service or USPS Office of
    Inspector General

50
CONCLUSION
  • Compliance with the ethics laws is your
    personal and professional responsibility, but we
    are here to help!
  • Ethics Helpline 202-268-6346
  • Ethics e-mail
  • GC ETHICS INQUIRY or gethics_at_email.usps.gov
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