Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture

USDA Ethics Issuances

17-1 Approval Procedures for OGE 278 and OGE 450 Filers Who Wish to Engage in Outside Activities or Employment with non-Federal Entities.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE - OFFICE OF ETHICS
daeo.ethics@usda.gov

ETHICS ISSUANCE: Number 17-1
DATE: Posted November 2017

1. Purpose

This document establishes procedures for employees identified below in Section 3 (Scope)who are seeking approval to engage in activities or employment with outside (non-Federal) organizations.

2. Authority

  1. Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch and USDA Supplemental Regulations
  2. In accordance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (Standards), at 5 CFR § 2635.803, the Department has issued a supplemental regulation requiring employees who file either a public (OGE 278) or confidential (OGE Form 450) financial disclosure report to obtain prior approval before engaging in outside employment (see the Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Department of Agriculture (Supplement), 5 CFR § 8301.102). The Standards, at 5 CFR § 2635.105 (c), authorize internal procedures for documenting or processing any determination, approval, or other action required or permitted by the Standards or Supplement, or for retaining any such documentation. The latter is the specific authority for this issuance.

  3. Controlling Statutes and Additional Regulations

18 U.S.C. § 203 - Compensation to Members of Congress, officers, and others in matter affecting the Government.

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 personal financial interests.

18 U.S.C. § 1913 - Lobbying with appropriate funds.

5 CFR Part 734 - Political Activities of Federal Employees.

5 CFR Part 2635 - Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, and specifically:

  • Subpart E - Impartiality in Performing Official Duties
  • Subpart G - Misuse of Position
  • Subpart H - Outside Activities

5 CFR Part 2636 - Limitations on Outside Earned Income, Employment and Affiliations for Certain Noncareer Employees

5 CFR Part 8301 - Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Department of Agriculture (NOTE: Additional rules apply to employees of the Farm Service Agency, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Inspector General, and Rural Development.)

3. Scope

This procedure applies to all USDA employees who file the OGE 278 - Public Financial Disclosure Report and all USDA employees who file the OGE 450 - Confidential Financial Disclosure Report.

4. Definitions and Delegations

Covered Employee. For purposes of this issuance, the term "covered employee" means an employee described in Section 3 (Scope).

Employment (5 CFR § 8301.102(b)1-2). For purposes of this issuance, the term "employment" means any form of non-Federal employment or business relationship or activity involving the provision of personal services by the employee for direct, indirect, or deferred compensation other than reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses. It also includes, irrespective of compensation, the following outside activities:

  1. Providing services as a consultant or professional, including service as an expert witness or as an attorney; and
  2. Providing services to a for-profit entity as an officer, director, employee, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor, general partner, or trustee, which involves decision making or policymaking for the non-Federal entity, or the provision of advice or counsel.

For delegations and additional definitions, see Ethics Issuance 02-2, Delegations of Authority and Responsibility.

5. General

Pursuant to the Supplement at 5 CFR § 8301.102(a), a "covered employee," other than a special Government employee, shall, before engaging in outside employment, obtain prior written approval by submitting an OE-101 - Request for Approval of Outside Activity to the Office of Ethics (OE) (see OE-101 cover page specific to your mission area for additional guidance). Filers should submit the OE-101 at least 30 workdays prior to engaging in the activity or employment. Click here to locate your mission area ethics advisor. Further, upon a change in your relationship with the outside organization or in your official USDA position, submit a revised request for approval.

6. Reporting Requirements

Public and Confidential Financial Disclosure Report filers are required to disclose activities, positions and employment with outside organizations performed in a personal capacity.

  • OGE 278 filers: Report positions you hold in a personal capacity with outside organizations in Part I of the OGE 278e (Positions Held Outside U.S. Government). Positions are reportable even if you do not receive compensation. Do not report positions you hold as part of your official duties with the US Government or the following: (1) positions with religious, social, fraternal, or political organizations; (2) positions solely of an honorary nature; (3) mere membership in an organization; and (4) passive investment interests as a limited partner or non-managing member of a limited liability company. Report the source and amount of income from outside employment that exceeds $200, e.g., fees, salary, honoraria, in Part 2 (Filer's Employment Assets, Income and Retirement Accounts). Do not report income from the US government. See the OE 278 instructions for additional reporting requirements.
  • OE 450 filers: Report positions you hold in a personal capacity with outside organizations in Part III: Outside Positions. Do not report positions you hold as part of your official duties with the US Government or the following: (1) positions with religious, social, fraternal, or political organizations; or (2) positions held by your spouse or dependent child. Report the source of income (but not the amount) that exceeds $200, e.g., fees, salary, honoraria, in Part I: Assets and Income. Do not report if the source of the income is the US government. See the OGE 450 instructions for additional reporting requirements.

7. Compensated Positions Exempt from Prior Approval (Examples are not all inclusive.)

Athletic Programs

(Coach, referee, sports instructor)

Desk Clerk

(hotel, cashier, valet)

Novelty Acts / Adult Entertainment

(Exotic dancer, snake charmer, magician)

Bail Bondsman

Distributor / Vendor / sales Staff

(Juice bowl distributor, usher, Avon, Pampered Chef, Amway, travel & tours)

Radio - Television Broadcaster

Civil Club Leader

(Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts)

Food Service Industry

(Cook, server, bartender, fast food)

Religious Establishments

(Staff, ministry)

Cashier / Stock Person

(Department stores, home improvement, supermarkets)

First responders

(Fire and police departments, EMS)

Sanitation Worker

Day Laborer

(Farmhand)

Lawn & Garden Maintenance

(Gardener, landscaper)

Tax Preparer

(NOTE: Consult the Office of Ethics before communicating with the IRS on behalf of your tax clients.)

Delivery Driver

Musician / Entertainment Venues

(Music teacher, concert staff, usher)

  1. Serving as a trustee
  2. Prior approval for trustee positions is required if the position is either: (1) compensated; or (2) with a for-profit entity.

  3. Uncompensated positions with non-profit entities do not require prior approval
  4. Examples include:

    . Nature Conservancy, non-profit, board Member

    . Friends of National Public Radio, non-profit, Treasurer

  5. Personal services and the scope of the prior approval requirement
  6. You must seek prior approval if you will provide personal services as a consultant or professional, regardless of whether the position is compensated. See definition of "Employment" above.

    Examples include:

    . American Realtors Association, non-profit, President (real estate license required for position)

    . National Association of Certified Public Accountants, non-profit, Treasurer (CPA license required for position)

  7. Recusal - disqualification - from acting in official capacity because of an outside activity or employment
  8. Although your position may be "exempt" from the requirement to request prior approval; you are still responsible for recusing - disqualifying - yourself from any USDA matters related to your outside employer or the non-Federal entity with which you have an outside activity, even if it is not compensated.

  9. Who is required to submit the OE-101?
  10. All Federal employees who file the OGE Form 278 and the OGE Form 450 (except Special Government Employees).

    Note :You may not engage in outside employment or any outside activity if it conflicts with the official duties of your government job, even if the outside employment or activity does not require prior approval. If either your outside employment or your official USDA job changes, you must submit a new request for approval of your outside activity or employment.

  11. Outside employment/activity prior approval process
  12. Employee: Complete Parts I-III electrically and email submit to your immediate supervisor.

    Supervisor: Complete Part IV electronically and email to the agency approving official (see agency-specific guidance for definition of agency approving official).

    Approving Official: Complete Part V electronically and email to your mission ethics advisor for review. Go to https://www.ethics.usda.gov/index.htm to locate your mission area ethics advisor.

  13. Where can I find the OE-101? On the Office of Ethics forms at page at: https://ethics.usda.gov/forms.htm.
  14. All forms must be digitally signed and electronically submitted. No hard copies please.