Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture

USDA Ethics Issuances

03-2 Combined Federal Campaign Activities

  1. Purpose
  2. Authority
  3. Definitions
  4. General
  5. Controlling Statutes and Regulations
  6. Voluntary Participation
    1. General Rule
    2. Permissible Encouragement
    3. Impermissible Actions
  7. Use/Misuse of Appropriated Funds
    1. Permissible Uses
    2. Impermissible Uses
  8. Conflicts of Interest, Impartiality and Favoritism
    1. Service on Local Federal Coordinating Committees (LFCCs)
    2. Service on Boards of Charitable Organizations
    3. Actions Favoring Specific Charities
  9. Special Events, Games of Chance and Gambling
    1. Permissible CFC Events
    2. Impermissible Events
  10. Improper Solicitations
    1. Soliciting Non-Federal Personnel
    2. Soliciting Outside Sources for Contributions


ETHICS ISSUANCE: Number 03-2 - DATE: November 7, 2003 (Updated January 2018)


1. Purpose

This Ethics Issuance establishes guidelines for applying the criminal conflict of interest statutes (18 U.S.C. 202-208) and Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 CFR Part 2635) to employees who participate in activities related to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).

2. Authority

Titles II and IV of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, Pub. L. No. 95-521, direct Executive branch departments and Federal agencies to administer an effective ethics program that must include training, counseling, financial disclosure reporting, and other related responsibilities. The program requirements for the ethics programs of executive departments or executive agencies are set out in 5 CFR Part 2638.

3. Definitions

Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), as defined at 5 CFR 950.101, means the charitable fundraising program established and administered by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management pursuant to Executive Order No. 12353, as amended by Executive Order No. 12404, and all subsidiary units of that program.

CFC Coordinator means an employee appointed by a Federal agency, or agency component, to lead the CFC effort at that agency or component. The CFC Coordinator recruits a Campaign Committee, including Keyworkers, to help implement campaign plans

Gambling, means a game of chance that involves the furnishing of consideration, either through a participation fee or wagering (risking loss) of money or something of value in return for the possibility of winning a reward or prize. To be considered gambling, a game must have all three elements. As used in 5 CFR 735.201, gambling includes the operation of a gambling device, conducting a lottery or pool, a game for money or property, or selling or purchasing a numbers slip or ticket.

Local Federal Coordinating Committee (LFCC) means the group of Federal officials designated by the Director, OPM to conduct the CFC in a particular community.

Principal Combined Fund Organization (PCFO) means the federated group or combination of groups, or a charitable organization selected by the LFCC to administer a local campaign under the direction and control of the LFCC and the Director, OPM.

Solicitation, for purposes of the CFC, means any action requesting money, either by cash, check, or payroll deduction, on behalf of charitable organizations. NOTE: For fundraising and gift purposes other than CFC, reference should be made to applicable provisions of 5 CFR part 2635.

4. General

The CFC is the only authorized solicitation of employees in the Federal workplace on behalf of charitable organizations [5 CFR 950.102(a)]. Federal agencies traditionally take a very active role in encouraging employee participation in the CFC. The challenge to meet participation goals often results in creative methods used by agencies to involve not only employees, but non-Federal entities as well. At the same time, employee participation must not be coerced, and efforts to involve non-Federal organizations must not violate other existing ethical rules. The purpose of this issuance is to advise USDA CFC Coordinators, supervisors, managers and other Department officials concerning the applicable rules that govern operation of a CFC Campaign and provide common methods employed by agencies.

5. Controlling Statutes and Regulations.

  • 18 U.S.C. § 205 - Activities of officers and employees in claims against and other matters affecting the Government.

  • 18 U.S.C. § 208 - Acts affecting a personal financial interest.

  • 5 C.F.R. § 735.201 - Gambling.

  • 5 C.F.R. part 950 - Solicitation of Federal Civilian and Uniformed Service Personnel for Contributions to Private Voluntary Organizations.

  • 5 C.F.R. Part 2635 - Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, specifically:

    • Subpart E - Impartiality in Performing Official Duties; and
    • Subpart G - Misuse of Position.

6. Voluntary Participation.

  • 6.1. General Rule. You must take no action that removes, or could appear to remove, another's free choice to participate or not to participate as he or she chooses. This includes an employee's decision to give through the CFC or not give, to make donations public or remain confidential, and how much to give.

  • 6.2. Permissible Encouragement. You may participate in and inform others of the opportunity to participate in special CFC non-solicitation events such as "kick-off" events, victory celebrations, and non-monetary award activities. This includes sponsoring special CFC events permitted by CFC regulations, where approved by an agency head or other appropriate agency official, consistent with agency ethics requirements.

  • 6.3. Impermissible Actions. Activities contrary to the non-coercive intent of Federal fundraising policy are not permitted in CFC campaigns. The following actions are specifically prohibited:

    • Solicitation of subordinates by supervisors;
      Note: This does not prohibit agency officials from allowing "kick-off" activities or demonstrating support for CFC, and it does not prohibit individual supervisors from encouraging participation, such as through a broadly distributed memorandum.

    • Supervisory inquiries of employees' personal participation in CFC.
      Note: This does not preclude supervisors from receiving summary information about their organization's participation;

    • Publicizing an employee's choice to participate or not participate in CFC, if the employee seeks confidentiality;

    • Developing and/or using lists of non-contributors for any purpose;

    • Providing and using contributor lists for purposes other than routine collection and forwarding of contributions;

    • Use of the USDA incentive program or other monetary awards to reward donations or participation;

    • Establishment of 100% goals or personal dollar goals or quotas; or
    • Using as a factor in a supervisor's performance appraisal the results of the solicitation in the supervisor's unit or organization.

7. Use/Misuse of Appropriated Funds.

  • 7.1. Permissible Uses. Since CFC is an official federal program, limited use of resources is appropriate. This normally includes expenditures related to "kick-offs," victory celebrations, non-monetary awards, official time for campaign activities, and other events to encourage support for CFC

  • 7.2. Impermissible Uses. Use of appropriated funds to pay for refreshments, personal gifts, or other items not essential to support CFC is prohibited. Also, the use of appropriated funds to buy incentive trinkets for CFC key workers and coordinators is discouraged. Seek guidance from the Office of the General Counsel before using appropriated funds to purchase incentive trinkets or other items to support CFC.

8. Conflicts of Interest, Impartiality, and Favoritism

  • 8.1. Service on Local Federal Coordinating Committees. If you serve on an LFCC, on the eligibility committee, or as agency fundraising program coordinator, you may not serve on the board of directors of any organization that serves the LFCC as its PCFO -- the local non-Federal organization that runs the CFC on behalf of designated charities. This could constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. 208 or other ethics rule. Consult the Office of Ethics if you serve on an LFCC, on the eligibility committee, or as agency fundraising program coordinator and serve on the board of directors of any organization that serves the LFCC as its PCFO.

  • 8.2. Service on Boards of Charitable Organizations. If you serve on the board of a charitable organization that participates in CFC, or have an affiliation with such an organization, you may not participate in any official decisions that may appear to have a direct and predictable interest on that organization. Likewise, you should not communicate with any federal agency on behalf of the charitable organization, including an application for inclusion on the local list, as this could constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. 205 or other ethics rule. If you serve on the board of a charitable organization that participates in CFC, you also should avoid participating in eligibility determinations on behalf of the federal government, as this could constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. 208 or other ethics rule. Consult the Office of Ethics if you serve on the board of a charitable organization that participates, or seeks to participate, in CFC.

  • 8.3. Actions Favoring Specific Charities. You may not:

    • Endorse or encourage employees to donate to a specific charity or federation of charities, whether privately or as part of a CFC “kick-off” event;
    • Solicit donations on behalf of a charity or federation of charities with which you have an affiliation; or
    • Permit a participant charity or federation of charities with which you are affiliated to make use of your official title, position, or authority, or using such yourself for the benefit of the charity.

    Such actions could create an appearance either of a loss of impartiality (5 CFR 2635, Subpart E), or misuse of your official position for the benefit of others (5 CFR 2635, Subpart G).

9. Special Events, Games of Chance and Gambling.

  • 9.1. Permissible CFC Events.

    • Special events must be conducted during duty hours using methods that permit true voluntary giving and reserve to the individual the option of disclosing any contribution or keeping it confidential. Campaign kick-offs, victory events, awards, and other non-solicitation events to build support for the CFC are encouraged. CFC special events must be undertaken in the spirit of generating interest in the CFC and be open to all individuals without regard to whether an individual participates in the CFC. No funds may be raised or collected at these events.

    • No costs for food or entertainment at a special event may be charged to the CFC. If prizes are offered at special events, they must be modest in nature and value. Examples of appropriate prizes may include opportunities for lunch with agency officials, agency parking spaces for a specific time period, and gifts of minimal financial value. Contact the Office of Ethics for advanced review of special CFC events where prizes or gifts are offered to ensure the special event is consistent with Office of Government Ethics regulations and USDA regulations and policy.
  • 9.2. Impermissible Events.

    • Events where the primary purpose is to solicit or collect cash donations, such as bake sales, chili cookoffs, book sales, silent auctions, raffles, lotteries, carnivals, athletic or similar events where items are sold for cash; or

    • Events that require CFC participation to attend; or

    • Events which include games of chance that constitute gambling, i.e., "pay to play." Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. 735.201, employees generally are prohibited, while on Government-owned or leased property, or while on official duty, from conducting or participating in gambling activities. CFC event coordinators must avoid gambling when planning opportunities of chance (raffles, lotteries, door-prizes, etc.). Avoid planning events that involve the following three elements:
      • The donor wagering something of value (consideration);
      • Consideration is required to participate in an event involving chance; and
      • Which offers a reward or prize.

      Requiring consideration to participate in a game typically triggers application of the gambling rule. A game may be permissible at a CFC event if the only requirement to play is USDA employment, and participants pay nothing of value to enter. For example, door-decorating competitions, quizzes, guessing games with no requirement of donation as a condition of entry are acceptable. Contributions, entry fees, or expectation of a contribution are not permitted as a requirement for participation in a CFC event.

10. Improper Solicitations.

  • 10.1. Soliciting Non-Federal Personnel. Contractor personnel, Credit Union employees, other non-Federal personnel employed on Federal premises, and Federal retirees may be offered the opportunity to make single contributions to the CFC by electronic means, including credit cards, if they so choose. However, under 5 CFR 950.102(d), they may not be solicited to make contributions of cash, whether directly or indirectly.

  • 10.2. Soliciting Outside Sources for Contributions. The CFC regulation simply permits solicitation of charitable donations from Federal employees in the Federal workplace. It does not authorize Federal agencies participating in CFC to solicit gifts to the agency from outside parties. Moreover, agency gift acceptance authorities should not be used to accomplish for CFC what cannot be accomplished under the CFC rules.

    Note: To the extent that such solicitation may be done, it is done on behalf of the CFC by the PCFOs.