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Training and Development Policy

Training Policy Handbook

Ethical Issues Related to Training

Public officials have a responsibility to maintain the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of Government officials and Federal programs and operations. Because of the many ethics statutes and regulations, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) requires that ethics training be conducted under the guidance and direction of the designated agency ethics official (DAEO), either in person by someone whom the DAEO has determined is knowledgeable in this area (referred to in OGE's training regulation, Title 5 CFR Part 2638, as a "qualified individual"), or through use of materials approved by the agency ethics official.

Legal Citations Impacting Ethical Issues

The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, Title 5 CFR Part 2635, also issued by OGE, places restrictions upon Federal Executive branch officials', participation in, attendance at, appearance of official sanction of, or endorsement of non-Federal training conferences and other meetings and activities. See Title 5 CFR §2635.203(g), 2635.204(g), 2635.502, 2635.701-705, and 2635.801-808 .

Title 31 USC §1353 and Title 5 USC §4111 restrict travel payments and contributions toward training expenses which may be accepted by a Federal agency or employee, respectively. Prior approval from a designated high level agency official is required, often following a consultation with, or review by, the designated agency ethics official. Federal employees should consult their agency ethics official to determine whether a considered action would be permissible under Federal ethics standards.

Title 18 USC §209 and Title 5 CFR §2635.807(a) generally prohibit a Federal employee from accepting payment from any source other than the United States in connection with the performance of the employee's official duties, including attendance at training meetings or conferences, and teaching, speaking, and writing that relates to the employee's official duties. This includes the acceptance of compensation for teaching, speaking, and writing while on annual leave since the individual is still a Federal employee in active pay status.

In 1995 the Supreme Court held that a ban on the acceptance of honoraria by employees below GS-16 violated the First Amendment. Although the Court was unwilling to strike down the 5 USC app §501(b) in its entirety, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice determined that the Court's ruling essentially nullified the honoraria prohibition for all government employees. Consequently, government employees, including those in the Senior Executive Service, may receive honoraria subject to the aforementioned regulations.

The acceptance of gifts (including travel expenses) and decorations from a foreign government, or from an international or multinational organization which is composed of representatives of foreign Governments and the United States, is prohibited under the Constitution without prior consent from Congress. In 5 USC §7342, Congress granted limited authority for Federal employees to accept some gifts and travel reimbursements under certain specified conditions. Federal employees should consult their agency ethics official and obtain the necessary agency approval prior to accepting any gift or reimbursement from a foreign government or an international or multinational organization.

After-hours Employment

Federal employees interested in after duty-hours employment should contact their agency ethics official before accepting such a position to ensure that there is no evidence of potential or actual conflict of interest with the employee's Government duties.