Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
4301 Jones Bridge Road, A1030
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799
Phone: (301) 295-3028
An employee may accept gifts, other than cash or an investment interest, with an aggregate market value of $200 or less if such gifts are a bona fide award or incident to a bona fide award that is given for meritorious public service or achievement by a person who does not have interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's official duties or by an association or other organization the majority of whose members do not have such interests.
Gifts with an aggregate market value in excess of $200 and awards of cash or investment interests offered by such persons as awards or incidents of awards that are given for these purposes may be accepted upon a written determination and approval by the Designated Agency Ethics Official.
Government employees are prohibited by Federal criminal law from participating personally and substantially in a particular matter that will affect certain financial interests. Those include the financial interests of:
There are a number of ways in which an employee may deal with a potential conflict of interest. The employee may simply not participate in the matter that would pose the conflict. This is called "recusal." The employee may also obtain a waiver from the agency, sell off or "divest" the conflicting interest, or resign from the conflicting position. Which remedy is appropriate will depend upon the particular circumstances; contact the ethics office.
Federal employees (military and civilian) are authorized to keep promotional items for personal use received as a result of traveling at government expense if the item:
The term "promotional item" includes, among other things, frequent flyer miles, travel upgrades, and access to carrier VIP clubs. This means that DoD personnel may accrue and use frequent flyer mileage and travel benefits for personal use.
Voluntary. A traveler may keep payments from a carrier for voluntarily vacating a transportation seat. However, no additional expenses (per diem or miscellaneous reimbursable) may be paid as a result of the traveler's delay. Additional travel expenses incurred as a result of voluntarily giving up a seat are the traveler's financial responsibility. [Please note, you cannot give up your seat voluntarily if it will cause the traveler to fail to arrive at the place of duty at the required time].
Involuntarily. If a traveler is involuntarily denied boarding on flight, compensation for the denied seat belongs to the Government (59 Comp. Gen. 203 (1980)).
A DoD employee who uses or permits the use of his military grade or who includes or permits the inclusion of his title or position as one of several biographical details given to identify himself in connection with teaching, speaking or writing, and who has not been authorized by appropriate Agency authority to present that material as the Agency's position must make a disclaimer if the subject of the teaching, speaking or writin
Executive branch employees may not give a gift to an official superior nor can an employee accept a gift from another employee who receives less pay, except in certain circumstances. On an occasional basis, the following individual gifts to a supervisor are permitted:
On certain special infrequent occasions a gift may be given that is appropriate to that occasion. These occasions include
Employees may solicit or contribute, on a strictly voluntary basis, nominal amounts for a group gift to an official superior on a special infrequent occasion and occasionally for items such as food and refreshments to be shared among employees at the office.
Reference: 5 C.F.R. §§ 2635.301-304.
Executive branch employees are subject to restrictions on the gifts that they may accept from sources outside the Government. Generally they may not accept gifts that are given because of their official positions or that come from certain interested sources ("prohibited sources"). Prohibited sources include persons (or an organization made up of such persons) who
In addition, an employee can never solicit or coerce the offering of a gift, or accept a gift in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act. Nor can an employee accept gifts so frequently that a reasonable person might think that the employee was using public office for private gain.
There are a number of exceptions to the ban on gifts from outside sources. These allow an employee to accept
There are other exceptions, including exceptions for awards and honorary degrees, certain discounts and other benefits, attendance at certain social events, and meals, refreshments and entertainment in foreign countries.
These exceptions are subject to some limitations on their use. For example, an employee can never solicit or coerce the offering of a gift. Nor can an employee use exceptions to accept gifts on such a frequent basis that a reasonable person would believe that the employee was using public office for private gain.
If an employee has received a gift that cannot be accepted, the employee may return the gift or pay its market value. If the gift is perishable (e.g. a fruit basket or flowers) and it is not practical to return it, the gift may, with approval, be given to charity or shared in the office.
Reference: 5 C.F.R. §§ 2635.201-205.
USUHS may accept reimbursement from a non-Federal source with respect to attendance of the employee at a meeting or similar function to which the employee has been authorized to attend in an official capacity on behalf of USUHS. [See Title 41 Chapter 301 of the Code of Federal Regulations.] In order to do so, USUHS personnel must fill out an "ethics travel form". Click on the "ethics travel form" link, fill out the form, and submit it to the USUHS Designated Agency Ethics Official in the General Counsel's office one week prior to the scheduled travel.
USUHS personnel may not personally accept reimbursement for travel expenses. The employee may accept a check made out to USUHS and turn it over to the USUHS Finance Office as soon as practicable.
USUHS personnel may accept travel expenses in kind² as long as it is approved in advance and the benefits are comparable to those offered other similarly situated invitees (excluding first class airfare which may not be accepted).
When the trip is completed, the USUHS employee files a normal travel claim with FMG for all travel expenses not reimbursed in kind. Any expenses not reimbursed by the non-Federal source will be funded by the employee's department.
USUHS personnel shall not solicit payment from a Non-Federal source. However, after receipt of an invitation from a non-Federal source to attend a meeting or similar function, the USUHS or the employee may inform the non-Federal source that the agency may accept payment. It is helpful to attach the proffer letter or E-mail to the request as it shows that the funds were not solicited by the Government employee.
Travel on Grant Money. There is no need to receive prior approval from an ethics official IF the travel funding was part of the approved grant budget.
Unofficial Travel. When on leave, USUHS personnel may accept reimbursement for travel expenses from a non-Federal source so long as it is not from those who have or seek business with DoD or from those whose business interests are affected by DoD functions. The employee should discuss any such circumstances with an ethics counselor. An approved outside activity request may be required.
¹Non-Federal Source means any person or entity other than the Government of the United States.
²Payment in kind means transportation, food, lodging, or other travel-related services provided by a non-Federal source instead of monetary payments to the Federal agency for these services. Payment in kind also includes waiver of any fees that a non-Federal source normally collects from meeting attendees (e.g., registration fees).
Executive branch employees are no longer subject to the prohibitions on the acceptance of honoraria contained in the Ethics Reform Act of 1989. Thus, you may accept an honorarium for teaching, speaking, or writing so long as it does not involve Government time (must be done during authorized leave or after working hours) and you do not use Government equipment. Be advised, however, that you may not accept an honorarium if the subject matter is DoD/USUHS policy or involves information that is not available to the public.
Note, if you are not permitted to accept an honorarium (a talk given on Government time for example) you may not direct that the money be given to some other entity not even a charity or other nonprofit organization. As with all other outside activities, you must fill out an outside activity form (See "Outside Activities" section below) and receive approval prior to commencing the activity.
Employees are required to consider whether their impartiality may be questioned whenever their involvement in a particular matter involving specific parties might affect certain personal and business relationships. A pending case, contract, grant, permit, license or loan are some examples of particular matters involving specific parties. If such a matter would have an effect on the financial interest of a member of the employee's household, or if a person with whom the employee has a "covered relationship" [see below] is or represents a party to such a matter, then the employee must consider whether a reasonable person would question the employee's impartiality in the matter. If the employee concludes that there would be an appearance problem, then the employee should not participate in the matter unless authorized by the agency. The employee should make full disclosure to his supervisor and discuss the matter with an ethics official. An employee has a "covered relationship" with the following persons:
An employee may have a concern that circumstances other than those expressly described above may raise a question regarding the employee's impartiality. In such a situation, the employee should discuss the matter with an ethics official.
USUHS policy [staff/faculty] [students] requires that all employees (military and civilian) receive approval prior to engaging in any outside activity. The process is simple. Pick up USUHS Form 1004 in the General Counsel's office (or print the linked PDF format copy), fill it out, have your department chair or activity head sign it and return it to the General Counsel's office. The form will be routed to the appropriate Dean, Brigade Commander, or USUHS President. When completed, a copy of the form will be returned to the employee for the employee's records.
For DoD health care providers who want to moonlight by providing health care outside DoD, approval requires additional documentation including a letter from the health care facility to the USUHS President acknowledging certain DoD-mandated restrictions. Contact the General Counsel's office for the format of these additional letters.
Most faculty members are members of professional organizations and/or associations. Often, they are asked by the professional association to participate in committees, conferences, or serve in some advisory capacity (without compensation). These activities are permissible with the approval of the Department Chair (Chairs must seek Dean's approval).
If the Government employee is asked to serve as a member of the governing board, however, the employee may not do so on Government time or using Government equipment. DoD Directive 5500.7-R prohibits DoD employees from participating in the management of non-Federal entities while on Government time whether compensated or not. If a University employee wishes to serve on the board of any non-Federal entity, he or she must first receive approval of this outside activity using USUHS form 1004.
An executive branch employee may not participate in any particular Government matter that will affect the financial interests of a person or entity with whom he is seeking employment. An employee is considered to be seeking employment if:
An employee is considered no longer seeking employment if:
In some cases, you may be authorized by an agency official to participate in particular matters from which you would otherwise have to be disqualified due to your job search. If a search firm or other intermediary is involved, the employee is not disqualified unless the intermediary identifies the prospective employer to the employee. Reference: 18 U.S.C. §208; 5 C.F.R. §§ 2635.601-606.
An employee shall not serve, other than on behalf of the United States, as an expert witness, with or without compensation, in any proceeding before a court or agency of the United States in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest, unless the employee's participation is authorized by the agency. 5 C.F.R. § 2635.805. Note: if the United States does not have an interest as described above, an employee may serve as an expert witness but must fill out an outside activity request (USUHS Form 1004) prior to accepting any offer.