Ethics Rules for Special Government Employees (SGE)

 

ETHICS RULES FOR FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL (FSIP) MEMBERS

 

 As a FSIP Member, you are a special government employee (SGE).

 What is an SGE?

 Per 18 U.S.C. § 202 (a), an SGE is “an officer or employee . . . who is appointed to perform temporary duties, with or without compensation, for a period not to exceed 130 days during any period of 365 consecutive days.”

 What happens if I perform duties for more than 130 days in my first 365-day period?

 You are still an SGE. Your SGE status is based on our good faith estimate that you will not work for more than 130 days.  The FLRA should be making this good faith estimate for each 365 day period of your term.

 What is a “day”?

 How are work days counted for SGE status purposes? Any work done on any given day means that day is counted as a work day.  NOTE – There is a de minimis rule: uncompensated activities limited to administrative matters (scheduling meetings, filling out personnel paperwork, etc.) or brief telephone communications with FSIP staff would not count as days worked. 

 Work performed on weekends and holidays counts as SGE days.

 An “SGE” day is not the same as a “pay” day.  Rate of daily pay set out in        5 U.S.C. § 7119(c)(4). 

 On what days do the restrictions on outside activities apply?  

The restrictions on your outside activities (e.g., representational services, arbitrations, teaching, etc.) apply equally to days on which Panel work is done, and those days when Panel work is not done.

Am I subject to the Standards of Conduct to the same extent as regular Government employees?

Yes, but . . . . As a general matter, the Standards of Conduct apply equally to SGEs as they do to any other federal employee.  However, there are some important exceptions to the restrictions that apply to SGEs that we’ll discuss below.

What are the restrictions on my outside activities?

Teaching, speaking, writing – SGEs working less than 60 days a year can teach, speak, or write for compensation on any topic, including federal sector labor relations, except for a particular, specific Panel matter the Member is working on.  SGEs working 60 days or more a year are prohibited from teaching, speaking or writing on matters relating to your duties but not prohibited as to federal labor relations in general. 

NOTE – SGEs cannot, in outside activities, use non-public information derived as a result of Panel work.

Representing persons before the federal government (18 U.S.C. §§ 203, 205) – Generally, you may do so, except for specific matters you have worked on at the Panel.  But, if you have worked 60 or more days during the immediately preceding 365-day period, then you may not perform representational activities regarding any matter pending before FSIP.   Regular employees are subject to much more significant restrictions on representational activities before the federal government.

What are the restrictions on my acceptance of gifts?

As with all employees, you may receive them from outside sources, so long as the outside source is not: 1) a “prohibited” source (a person seeking official action by the agency); OR 2) given because of the employee’s official position.  Exception – gifts given by an otherwise prohibited source as a result of an outside business or personal relationship, where it is clear that official position is not the motive for the gift.  NOTE – this should be viewed as a very limited exception.

What restrictions are there on my political activities?

The Hatch Act applies to you only during the part of day that you are actually performing official duties.  During other parts of the day, you may engage in political activity (although this should be done off federal premises, not using federal equipment).

What restrictions are there on my fundraising activities?

You may engage in fundraising in your personal capacity so long as you do not solicit funds or other support from any person or entity known to you to have interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of your duties as a Panel Member.

What are the restrictions on my life after FSIP?

There are several restrictions:  (A) a lifetime ban on representing others in connection with the same particular matter involving specific parties in which you participated personally and substantially at the Panel;  (B) a two-year ban on representing others in connection with the same particular matter involving specific parties that was pending under your official responsibility during your last year at the Panel; and (C) a one-year “cooling off” period prohibiting senior employees from representing anyone before the Panel for one year after terminating your position – applies only if you served for 60 or more days during your last year at the Panel.

Do I have to keep filing financial disclosure reports?

Yes.  If you work no more than 60 days a year, you must file an OGE Form 450 annually as a new entrant.  These are due to the DAEO in May of each year.

If you work more than 60 days a year and your rate of pay is 120% of minimum rate for GS-15, then you must submit a public OGE Form 278 report each May.

To what other ethics rules am I subject?

You may not use your official position for private gain. – For example, you may not use your official position to promote your private arbitration practice.  NOTE – could refer to position only as part of biographical statement.  Further, you may not use your official position to promote the financial interests of others, e.g., fundraising for a charity by using official title.

You must maintain impartiality. – You must not participate in a matter where a reasonable person would question your ability to be impartial.