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NASA Goddard 2012 Ethics Training for Supervisors. Laura Giza Deputy Chief Counsel. Goddard Ethics Officials R. Andrew Falcon Chief Counsel (301) 286-9181 Laura Giza Deputy Chief Counsel (301) 286-9181. General Principles of Public Service. Public service is a public trust

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Goddard Ethics Officials

R. Andrew Falcon

Chief Counsel

(301) 286-9181

Laura Giza

Deputy Chief Counsel

(301) 286-9181

general principles of public service
General Principles of Public Service

Public service is a public trust

Employees must:

  • Protect and conserve Government property and use it for authorized purposes only
  • Act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual
  • Put forth honest effort in performance of duties
  • Disclose fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities
  • Satisfy obligations as citizens, such as taxes
  • Adhere to all equal opportunity laws and regulations
  • Avoid even the appearance of impropriety
general principles of public service1
General Principles of Public Service

Employees may NOT:

  • Hold financial interests conflicting with duties
  • Engage in outside activities or employment that conflict with official duties
  • Accept or solicit gifts from a prohibited source
  • Make unauthorized commitments or promises to bind the Government
  • Improperly use nonpublic information
  • Use public office for private gain

Ethics Challenge

Amber, a deputy project manager in Code 400, tells her supervisor, Bryan, that her husband just got a job with Lockheed Martin with a great salary and a great stock package. Bryan asks about a conflict of interest given that Lockheed is the prime contractor on their project. Amber responds that there is no conflict because her husband won’t be doing any NASA work.

Is there an issue here that Bryan should


what should bryan do
What should Bryan do?
  • Nothing, because Amber has no conflict of interest since her spouse is not doing NASA work.
  • Tell Amber that he needs to check with the Ethics official, but because he won’t be able to do so until he gets back from travel, let Amber go ahead and participate in a project review meeting while he’s gone.
  • Nothing, because Amber is critical to the project and dealing with the legal office is such a pain.
  • Tell Amber to stand down and not take any action on the project until he talks to the ethics official.
conflicting financial interests 18 usc 208
Conflicting Financial Interests18 USC 208

An employee is CRIMINALLY prohibited:

  • From participating personally and substantially
  • In any particular matter in which
  • The employee, or anyone whose interests are imputed to the employee, has a financial interest
  • If the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that interest.

Imputed Interests

  • Spouse
  • Minor child
  • General partner
  • Organization or entity for which the employee serves as officer, director, trustee, general partner or employee
  • A person with whom the employee is negotiating for or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment

Does Amber have a financial conflict of interest?

  • Yes, because her spouse owns Lockheed stock, he has a financial interest in Lockheed, and his interests are imputed to her.
  • Either Bryan or Amber should discuss the situation with the Ethics Official and follow the guidance given.

What are possible courses of action?

Have her spouse divest himself of the stock, or reduce the amount to below $15,000

Disqualify Amber from the project.

In exceptional circumstances, obtain a waiver signed by the Administrator to allow her to continue working on the matter.


Ethics Challenge

Louise, a Branch Head in the Code 500, has recently hired Carlos, an engineer with Tech Company, a Goddard engineering support contractor. Louise would like Carlos to be the NASA COTR on the contract with Tech because he knows the contract from his employment with Tech. Louise doesn’t see any problem – it’s a logical fit given Carlos’ expertise and knowledge of the contract. Carlos does not own any Tech stock nor has any other financial interest in the company.

Is Louise right that there is no problem?

is louise right that there is no problem with carlos being the cotr
Is Louise right that there is no problem with Carlos being the COTR?
  • Yes, because Carlos has no financial interest in Tech so he doesn’t have a financial conflict of interest.
  • No, because even though he doesn’t have a criminal conflict of interest with Tech, there is a concern about his impartiality.
  • Yes, because his expertise and experience make Carlos the best choice for COTR.

Carlos does not have a formal financial conflict of interest with Tech, but his recent employment with Tech raises a question about his IMPARTIALITY.

Employees may not participate in a particular matter:

  • Likely to have a direct & predictable effect
  • On the financial interests
  • Of someone with whom you have a “covered relationship”
  • If a reasonable person would question your impartiality due to the relationship
covered relationships
Covered Relationships
  • Member of your household
  • Relative with close personalrelationship
  • Current or prospective business or financial relationship
  • Current or prospective employer of your spouse, parent, or child.
  • Organization for which within the last year you served as officer, director, trustee, partner, consultant, or employee
  • Organization you actively participate in

Carlos’ impartiality may be brought into question because he has a “covered relationship” with Tech since he recently worked for them.


What should Louise do?

Either she or Carlos should contact an ethics official for guidance.

The Center Chief Counsel can determine that the Agency’s interest in Carlos’ role outweighs the impartiality concern.

financial disclosure
Financial Disclosure
  • Financial disclosure forms help identify potential conflicts.
  • Who files:
  • Public (OGE 278) – SES, ST, SL, Schedule C, and NEX employees paid at a certain level.
  • Confidential (OGE 450) – Based on assignment (i.e., sitting on an SEB) or position. Also, Special Government Employees (SGEs) and Intergovernmental Personnel Act employees.
  • Report interests of spouse and dependent children
stock act

On April 4, 2012, the President signed the “STOCK Act of 2012”:

  • The public financial disclosure forms ofall OGE 278 filers will be posted publicly online, effective December 8, 2012. As a result, it is perhaps even more important that reports comply with filing requirements and not contain private information beyond filing requirements.
  • OGE and OMB are developing a government-wide online access system.
  • If you (as a public filer) negotiate for post-government employment, you must disclose with whom you are negotiating for employment, and file a written recusal statement within three days of beginning those negotiations.  Form for effecting this can be obtained at
  • Public filers have to begin disclose transactions in stock and sector mutual funds within 30-45 days of the transaction. (Diversified fund transactions are still reported on the annual form.) NASA Filers have been given an extension until October 31, 2012.
  • Public filers will only be able to obtain stock in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on terms generally available to the public.
ethics challenge
Ethics Challenge

Brad, a Goddard astronomer, tells his supervisor, Anne, that he’s been asked to teach a general astronomy course at Starlight University for $5000 a semester. He plans to prepare for and teach the course on his own time and away from work. As part of his NASA duties, he funds a researcher at Starlight University, but it’s a scientist in their research department and it’s unrelated to the class.

What should Anne tell him?

what should anne tell brad about his plans for the class
What should Anne tell Brad about his plans for the class?
  • That he can teach the class and accept the compensation as long as he agrees to split the proceeds with her.
  • That as long as he does it on his own time and away from work, it’s okay.

3. That he needs to do an outside activity request, but that she’ll approve it because she doesn’t see a problem.

4. That he has a conflict of interest with Starlight University because he funds work being done by them.

outside activities
Outside Activities

Employees may not engage in outside activities that conflict with their official duties. A conflict exists if

  • the activity is prohibited by statute or

regulations or

b) the employee\'s ability to perform his or her duties would be materially impaired.

outside activity approval
Outside Activity Approval
  • Under 5 CFR 6901.103, NASA requires outside activity/employment approval
  • For any form of compensated or uncompensated non-Federal employment or business relationship
  • Includes attorney, contractor, employee, teacher, speaker, writing for publication
  • Does not include nonprofit charitable, religious, professional, social, etc. unless work is for compensation or organization is a prohibited source (See regulation for specific details.)
rules governing outside activities
Rules governing outside activities
  • Cannot have NASA duties that involve outside employer – 18 USC 208 conflict
    • Brad would need to recuse himself from his NASA duties involving Starlight University if he wants to teach a class for them.
    • However, Anne would have to approve the recusal since she determines Brad’s duties.
other outside activity rules
Other Outside Activity Rules
  • Cannot use NASA resources for outside activity
  • Cannot accept compensation for teaching, speaking, or writing activity that relates to your official duties
  • Cannot represent an outside entity before a Federal agency, including submitting proposals for a university to a Federal agency.
  • Cannot do work for an outside entity that they are doing for NASA under a contract, grant, or agreement
If Brad has no duties involving Starlight and gets approval for teaching a class there, can he use his official NASA title and position?
  • Brad may not use his official title or position, nor may he allow Starlight to use them to promote the course.
  • He may allow his title or position to be included as one of SEVERAL biographical details when such information is given to identify him.
  • In the case of a scientific or professional journal article, he could use his title or position if a reasonably prominent disclaimer accompanies it. The disclaimer should state that the views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of NASA or the United States.
use of government property
Use of Government Property

Employees are not allowed to use or borrow Government equipment, including printing and reproduction equipment, for other than authorized purposes.

Although some limited personal use of email and telephones is permissible (where it facilitates the employee’s efficiency and does not cost the Government any money), it is strictly prohibited to use the telephone, Government email, or other Government resources to conduct a private business even where the employee has received administrative approval to engage in the outside activity and is doing it on his own time.

misuse of position
Misuse of Position

1. Use of Public Office for Private Gain

2. Use of Nonpublic Information

3. Use of Government Property

- No pornography on computer

- No use of government travel credit card for other than official travel expenses.

4. Use of Official Time

hatch act
Hatch Act

Prohibits Federal employees from

engaging in partisan political activities:

  • While on duty
  • In any room or building in which Federal employees or officers perform official work
  • While wearing a uniform or official insignia
  • Using any vehicle owned or leased by the Government.
hatch act1
Hatch Act

In addition, employees may not:

  • Use their official authority or influence to interfere with an election
  • Solicit, accept, or receive political contributions
  • Knowingly solicit or discourage the political activity of someone who has business before the Agency
  • Be a candidate for public office in partisan elections.
hatch act2
Hatch Act

SES employees also may not work on campaigns where any of the candidates are running as representatives of a political party.

For example, an SES employee may not campaign for or against a candidate in a partisan election.


Ethics Challenge

Gil is works in the Goddard Safety and Mission Assurance Office and is supporting the TDRS project. Part of his duties include participating in reviews of TDRS contractor Boeing’s performance under the contract. Boeing is impressed with Gil, and contacts him about taking a job with them. Gil’s interested in the job, and tells his supervisor Claire.

What should Claire advise Gil?

what should claire advise her employee gil about the job offer from boeing
What should Claire advise her employee Gil about the job offer from Boeing?
  • Tell him to turn down the offer outright because Federal employees may not engage in employment discussions with contractors or grantees.
  • Tell Gil that if he’s interested in the offer, take no official action involving this university and contact the ethics official for further advice.
  • Tell Gil to let Boeing know that he’s interested but will get back to them after he finishes his work on the latest TDRS review.

Seeking Employment

Once you have started seeking employment with a prospective employer, you may not take any official action that could affect the financial interests of that prospective employer.


What should Gil do?

  • He has to either:
  • Reject any offers ofemployment or employment discussions OR
  • disqualifyhimself from participation in matters involving the company. (He should execute a written recusal.)

Ethics Challenge

Jackson is a Goddard supervisor in Code 700 who would like to take a job with Computer Support Inc., a Goddard contractor. He would be program manager on the contract with Goddard, and as such would be interacting directly with Goddard civil servants. As a Goddard supervisor, Jackson has not himself been involved in this contract, but one of his employees was a task monitor on one of its tasks which was completed a month ago.

Can Jackson take this job?

Can Jackson be the company’s program manager for a contract in which one of his NASA employees was involved?
  • Yes, because Jackson himself was not involved in the contract.
  • No, because the contract is considered to be under Jackson’s official responsibility.
  • Yes, because his employee’s role as a task monitor on a single task is not enough for the entire contract to be considered under Jackson’s official responsibility.
  • Yes, because his employee is no longer a task monitor on the contract since the task was completed a month ago.
post government employment restrictions 18 usc 207
Post-Government Employment Restrictions (18 USC 207)
  • Personal and substantial participation
    • former Federal employee may not represent a third party back to the Federal government on a matter in which he or she was personally and substantially involved
    • restriction lasts for lifetime of matter
    • Matter includes a contract, grant, or other agreement
post employment restrictions 18 usc 207 cont d
Post Employment Restrictions18 USC 207 cont’d
  • Official Responsibility
    • Former Federal employee may not represent a third party before the Federal government on any matter that was within the employee’s official responsibility during his/her last year of Federal service
    • Restriction applies for 2 years after having official responsibility of the matter
what can jackson do for computer support inc
What can Jackson do for Computer Support Inc.?
  • He can work “behind the scenes” for the company on the contract, meaning he himself cannot have direct communication with NASA, but can advise others on interactions with NASA
  • He can represent the company before NASA on a different NASA contract, grant, or agreement – one he wasn’t personally and substantially involved in while a NASA employeeor had official responsibility for
post employment restrictions 18 usc 207 cont d1
Post Employment Restrictions18 USC 207 cont’d
  • SES and other senior level employees
    • Former SES and other senior level employees may not represent a third party back to their home agency on ANY matter
    • Restriction lasts for one year after leaving Federal service
    • Referred to as the “cooling off” period
    • Exception if working for a university
procurement integrity restrictions
Procurement Integrity Restrictions
  • Cannot work for company for one year if:
  • Worked on contract of$10 Million or more
  • As:
    • Procuring contracting officer
    • Source selection authority
    • Member of the source selection evaluation board
    • Chief of financial or technical evaluation team
    • Program manager (PM), Deputy PM, or administrative contracting officer
    • Decision maker to award the contract, modification, subcontract, task order or delivery order or establish rates or settle a claim in excess of $10M.

Ethics Challenge

Angela is a NASA mechanical engineer who learns that she’s won the Mechanical Engineer of the Year award from the Mechanical Engineering Society for her NASA work. The prize consists of $5000 and a medal. She asks Juan, her supervisor, whether she can accept it.

Can she accept the money and the medal?

may angela keep an award from an outside source for her nasa work
May Angela keep an award from an outside source for her NASA work?
  • Yes, because there are no restrictions on Federal employees accepting cash from external sources.
  • No, because Federal employees are prohibited from accepting cash from outside sources for their government work.
  • Maybe, she should consult with her ethics official.
general gift rule
General gift rule

Federal employees may not solicit nor accept gifts (anything of value) that are:

1. Given due to your official position, or

2. From prohibited sources (such as

NASA contractors)

unless an exception applies.

what is a prohibited source
What is a prohibited source?
  • Prohibited sourceincludes anyone
    • Seeking official action by NASA
    • Doing or seeking business with NASA
    • Regulated by NASA
    • Who has interests that may be substantially affected by your official duties.
what is a gift
What is a gift?
  • A “GIFT” may be any item of value, including

cash, entertainment, travel, loan, discount

    • Snacks (coffee/donuts)
    • Anything for which you paid fair market value
    • Anything paid for by the government
    • Anything accepted by NASA under statutory authority
    • Any benefits or prizes open to the public
is there a gift exception
Is there a Gift Exception?
  • Gifts valued at $20 or under with annual max of $50 from each prohibited source
  • Gifts based on a personal relationship
  • Awards and honorary degrees
  • Widely attended gatherings (needs advance written determination by GSFC legal)
  • Social invitations (not prohibited sources)
  • NOTE: Special law permits acceptance of gift worth up to $350if it is from a foreign government
awards over 200 require written determination from chief counsel
Awards over $200 require written determination from Chief Counsel

that the award is made as part of an established program of recognition

(a) under which awards have been made on a regular basis or which is funded, wholly or in part, to ensure its continuation on a regular basis, and

(b) under which the selection of award recipients is made pursuant to written standards. 5 CFR § 2635.204(d)(1).

concluding thoughts
Concluding thoughts:
  • The ethics laws can be very complicated and not necessarily intuitive
  • You are not expected to know the ethics laws in detail