Managing Special Government Employee Service

Managing Special Government Employee Service


Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: (Audio starts mid-sentence)
Fundamental Series. I’m Cheryl Piasecki, and I’m very pleased
to be joined today by two of my colleagues from the ethics community. Dan Fort is an ethics official with the Environmental
Protection Agency. And Karen Santoro is the DAEO at the National
Science Foundation. And I want to welcome you both to the show
today. Dan Fort: Thank you. Karen Santoro: Thank you. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: For those of you who
are who may have attended the OGE Summit in March, I just wanted to alert you that this
is, in many respects, a similar presentation, if not an identical presentation from what
we delivered at the summit. This was not a session that had been streamed,
so that’s why we decided to have it be one of our Fundamental Series’ broadcasts. And before we get started on today’s session
where we’re talking going to be talking about managing SGE service, I do have a few brief
announcements. Next week, for the Advanced Practitioner Series,
we’re also going to be invite we have also invited some folks from outside of OGE to
come in for a panel presentation. The discussion is going to be on the interplay
between FOIA, the Ethics in Government Act and the Privacy Act with respect to ethics
documents. I think that that’s a that’s something that’s
of great interest to the community, and so we’re really pleased to be able to offer that
to you next week. The first week in May, is what tentatively
we have scheduled to deliver our three-day 278e massive, open, online course. What we will be doing is introducing sort
of an introductory-level review of the 278e. As I said, it will be a three-day massive,
open, online course, so there will be exercises and application exercises that we would invite
you to engage in. So, be looking for announcements about that
probably in the first week in May. And with that, Patrick, if you would be willing
to to bring up our slide deck, we’ll go ahead and get started with today’s discussion about
managing SGEs. Okay. Well, I think Karen and Dan; I think SGEs
are are a concept that I think a lot of people find quite confusing for for a variety of
reasons. I think, in large measure, because the folks
aren’t even sure, I don’t think, where the definition of this comes from. Like, where what this concept is related to. And as I’ve pulled up here on this on this
slide, curiously enough, where you find the definition of an SGE is in Title 18 of the
United States Code, and that’s in the criminal conflict of interest statutes, in 202, where
all the definitions for the criminal conflict of interest statutes reside. And I think, unfortunately, a lot of folks
think that this is somehow a personnel law concept, and so so, I think when it comes
to sort of managing SGEs, and deciding who is responsible for identifying them, who is
responsible for tracking them, how we even know who is an SGE, I think the very fact
that it that it got its genesis is in the conflict of interest laws; it sort of makes
life a little complicated for everyone. Would you agree with that? Dan Fort: Yeah, I would agree with that. And it’s just fascinating that the reason
and it must be oh my God, it must be over half a century ago, that that the whole idea
of SGEs came into being when the government needed the temporary services of of people
to serve as government employees for their particular expertise. It wasn’t that you were going to, you know,
get a federal job, like those of us here; we’re all regular government employees, and
probably most of the people listening are regular government employees. The idea was to only have temporary service
to assist the government for a short period of time. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. And and if you look at the definition, that’s
it’s that’s pretty much what the definition is is an indication of. It says the term special government employee
is an officer or an employee who is retained, designated, appointed or employed to perform
and it’s with or without compensation not to exceed 130 days’ temporary duties either
on a full-time or an intermittent basis. So, the very the very nature of special government
employees is the intent is that they will be temporary employees; there’s not an intention
that they would be full-time federal government employees. So, understanding that that is the definition,
and that’s where the definition resides, I think one of the first points that we have
to be very cognizant of is that special government employees are, first and foremost, employees. For someone to have an SGE status, they have
to be an employee. And so, what OGE has has said in its advisories
is that you look for indicia of employment, where that definition resides, which is in
5 U.S.C. 2105. And in that in that statute, they basically
lay out three, rather vague I would say, criteria for what constitutes, you know, someone having
employee status with the government; and that’s that they’ve been appointed to the civil service,
that they have an employment; they’re performing a federal function; and they’re being supervised
by a federal official. Now, I know this comes up, and people might
be saying, well, why would we ever have to question whether or not somebody was an SGE
or an employee? And we’re going to talk about this in a little
bit more detail later, but there are folks who come to provide service to the government
who are considered representatives. And when you’re making designations about
whether or not that individual’s service makes them subject to any ethics rules, you have
to first determine whether or not they are actually a representative or an employee. And these are three of the criteria that 5
U.S.C. lays out, as to what makes someone an employee. And Dan, you and I were talking a little earlier
about how EPA because you said you do have some representatives in some of your committees,
correct? Dan Fort: Yes, we do. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, do you want to share with folks and we’re
going to talk about this in a little bit more detail later, but I thought it was really
interesting that you said that you had like four things that you all look to when you’re
trying to decide whether someone is an employee or a representative. Dan Fort: Yeah, I get it. What we did is put together an EPA document,
an ethics advisory, where we laid out the criteria by which you would determine whether
somebody would be a representative or a special government employee. And, you know, what we did is we took a lot
of OGE’s legal advisories, informal advisories, and sort of sort of smacked them all together
so we could have one convenient document to look at. So, there’s really four things that we look
at. One is we look at the anticipated role of
the advisory committee member; you know, what are they going to be doing? Are they there for their expertise or are
they there because they’re representing a group or a viewpoint. We also ask ourselves, is the member going
to receive compensation from from the agency? Was the member appointed by recommendation
by outside parties? And lastly, does the the enabling legislation
for the committee, if it’s a statutory committee or they’re a committee charter, sort of help
you determine what kind of advisory committee committee members you’re going to have. Are they representatives or special government
employees? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. And we’re going to come back to that and I’m
going to ask you to elaborate on that a little bit more later when we actually start talking
more specifically and discretely about representatives; because you’ve touched on on some of the things
that I think are really material to that determination. But for right now, we’re going to sort of
like continue on with when your when you have made a determination and you know that the
people that you have appointed are actually employees, such that they are legitimately
special government employees. We I think it’s important to understand what
makes these people special. Like why is this category of employees somehow
how are they separated out from regular rank and file employees? Because you can be temporary, you can be part
time, you can be full time, and so where where’s that line drawn, and what makes somebody suddenly
special? The first thing is that the duties are temporary. And the statute the definition in the statute
itself says exactly what temporary means; and it means that they serve 130 days or less
in a 365-day consecutive period. So, from you would you would calculate that
like from the date that they would be appointed if you do a 365-degree look ahead of that
appointment date, you make an estimation about whether or not you anticipate that they’re
going to serve for more for 130 days or less. If you fully anticipate that their service
will meet that day-counting criterion, then you can you can you can consider them SGEs,
and designate them as special government employees. And then that SGE status remains with them
throughout that entire one year appointment period. Now, I don’t know, have you all had experiences
where your SGEs have exceeded the 130 day period? Karen Santoro: We’ve had a couple. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And it’s our personnel office
that notifies us of the days. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And at that point, we get back
to the SGE and say you’re no longer special. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: Here are the additional ethics
rules that apply to you. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Okay. And I’m curious that when when you have people
who who who extend for an additional year, like their appointment is going to extend
beyond the additional year, do you then reevaluate their status for the for however long that
their appointment is going to be? Karen Santoro: We basically look at what their
duties are going to be. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: If we need them for advice Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: then we would mainly consider
them special government employees. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Okay. So so really, it comes down to the SGE status
is basically a day-counting function. You have to look at the number of days that
you anticipate someone is going to to provide services, and if they’re going to fall within
that ambit of that day counting, they are special government employees, not just part-time
employees. Because you can have somebody who is working
part time, but if they’re, you know, going to work, you know, more than 130 days, and
you anticipate they’re going to work more than 130 days, they don’t get the special
government employee moniker. The other thing is you don’t have to pay special
government employees. They can serve with or without compensation. And as Dan and Karen are both going to talk
about here in a little bit, the ethics rules are going to apply, you know, somewhat differently,
in some context. Some of the rules and laws apply the same,
and some of the rules and laws apply differently; and we’re going to sort of parse that out
later on in today’s presentation. One advisory may Dan mentioned that EPA has
sort of sort of tried to come up with a comprehensive document that pulls together a lot of the
advisories that OGE has issued dealing with SGEs, but one of the most comprehensive that
OGE issued, and I think it’s still relevant and still it’s still applicable, is the OGE
advisory from February 15, 2000. And you can find that on our on OGE’s website. This really has to be if you deal with SGEs
this has to be in your arsenal. You have to have this advisory in your toolkit,
and have read it and looked at it, because it covers everything from day counting to
what are the indicia of employee status to walking you through literally every standards
of conduct, and every conflict of interest statute, and letting you know which ones apply
to SGEs, and specifically how they apply to SGEs. Yeah, Patrick, did you have a Patrick Shepherd: Yes, we do. We have a couple of questions coming in Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Patrick Shepherd: over the Hangout that I
think are timely. And the first question is; this person thought
that SGEs could remain SGEs if they work more than 130 days, as long as there was a good
faith estimate made at the beginning. You know, could you speak to that? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I think in OGE’s interpretation
is that when you make a designation at the beginning of the appointment, then that lasts
for the that lasts for the extension of the appointment. But if they exceed the 130 days, that what
we advise in our in our guidance document is that that should inform your next assessment
about whether or not they retain SGE status for any subsequent appointments. And I think that’s what OGE’s guidance document
says. Patrick Shepherd: Excellent, thank you. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Was there another question
or Patrick Shepherd: Yes, there is another question,
and this question is can you recoup any money paid to them if they’ve worked over the 130
days? How does that work for compensation? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I’m going to ask Dan
and Karen to address that question. Dan Fort: Outside of my field, however. Karen Santoro: Yes, I do not know. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, you’ve stumped us. You’ve stumped the panel. Dan Fort: Quick, call a personnel lawyer. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I know I have no question
who would who would you consult on a situation like that? Dan Fort: That would be personnel folks. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: My guess is, you know, once you
pay them, you pay them, you know, but not my field however. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Okay. Right. Back on the slide deck, Patrick, if you could. Okay. So, we’ve we’re going to divide, you know,
the the SGE moniker into sort of two separate groups. This we could quibble about whether or not
this may or may not be the best way to divide up SGEs for for purposes of understanding
the different variations in which they come. But I think for purposes of what of our presentation
today, this makes pretty good sense. We have what we call FACA SGEs, who are special
government employees who were serving as members on federal advisory committees that are subject
to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. So, it stands to reason that if that’s one
subgroup, there is actually another group, which are non FACA, which are SGEs who may
be on committees, maybe serving on advisory committees, that aren’t subject to the Federal
Advisory Committee Act. Or there’s also this other group, which aren’t
necessarily committee members at all, but are people who are hired on a temporary basis
to serve as experts or consultants to the agency, and it’s by virtue of the fact that
it’s temporary duties for 130 days or less, which is what makes them a special government
employee. Like I said, we’ve divided this into FACA
versus non-FACA, and I’m going to ask oh, and this is just a the next slide is is just
a little thing that we got from the 2014 OGE annual questionnaire, to give you kind of
a breakdown of when we are talking about, particularly advisory committee SGEs, the
preponderance of SGEs that we have in the federal government who who serve on advisory
committees, are serving on FACA advisory committees. As you can see the numbers the numbers sort
of like spell that out for us. But what I’m going to ask my two colleagues
here to talk about, because I am not a resident expert on FACA, and these two folks really
have a lot of experience, is to sort of briefly explain, you know, what is FACA, what is its
purpose, you know, who who heads it up, who is responsible for it, where do you look for
guidance? And, you know, Karen and Dan, either of you
jump in and and kind of take charge of this one. Dan Fort: I’ll let you do this one. Karen Santoro: So, my understanding is that
FACA was enacted so that the work of the government could be transparent. So, when we call in our outside experts, the
public ought to know about that. They get notified of meetings, they have the
opportunity to attend if it’s open, they know who our experts are, and they know the basis
on which we arrived at our decisions. It’s actually GSA that enforces the FACA law
and the regulations. They have a committee management secretariat. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. And do either of you have non-FACA committees
that you deal with? Karen Santoro: We have one that concerns diving
safety in the Antarctic. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Oooh. Dan Fort: That’s nice. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: See, you have all the
sexy advisory committees at the National Science Foundation. Karen Santoro: But we do have non-FACA SGEs
who are outside of the committees. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: The committees. So, you have experts and consultants who are
SGEs? Karen Santoro: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: We typically refer to them
as intermittent experts. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Do you know, or can you address the issue
of how do you know if your committee is a FACA committee or not? Karen Santoro: All of ours are, except the
one I mentioned. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And it’s due to the charter. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So so the charter would indicate whether or
not it was intended to be a FACA committee, is that correct? Karen Santoro: Yes. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Okay. So, the really what the issue with FACA is
we’re looking for transparency, right? We’re looking for transparency and accountability
that, you know, to the extent that we’re bringing in experts to advise the government, those
processes are transparent, and the public has an opportunity to see like what people
are discussing and bringing to the table, is that kind of, generally Karen Santoro: Yes. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: correct? Okay. Dan Fort: That’s the reason FACA was enacted
in the first place is to provide that transparency, which was lacking prior to its enactment. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm, okay. Patrick Shepherd: And we do have another question
coming in over the Hangout, and this also deals with how agencies designate and keep
track of special government employees. And this question is probably for Dan and
Karen. How do you keep track of who is an SGE? Do you just note that on the SF 50, or are
there other ways that you make that formal designation? Dan Fort: Well in our case, which I’ll get
to in a moment, we actually have our very own form, a confidential financial disclosure
form, which we created and for which we got approval from OGE. And we make all of our special government
employees fill it out, as long as they are confidential financial disclosure filers. If we have one, an SGE, who meets the criteria
for being the public financial disclosure, and I don’t think we’ve had any of those for
at least maybe a year, maybe two years, probably more. In that case, then of course they’re obligated
to fill out the OGE 278e and be in Integrity, of course. So, if they are an SGE, they fill out an entirely
different form than the OGE 450, although it has many similarities to the 450, so by
definition we know who they are. Karen Santoro: So, like EPA, the National
Science Foundation has its own alternative confidential filing disclosure form for our
SGEs, but it only applies to our SGEs who are on advisory committees or our proposal
review panels. The non-FACA SGEs would typically either file
a 278e or a 450. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: And it is the office that does
the hiring who tells personnel we want this individual to only serve this many days, and
that’s how the SGE is designated. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, effectively, it’s the hiring official
informs personnel, and then you get notified because they are filers. So, it’s through the filing process that your
office gets notified that these folks are onboard? Karen Santoro: We are notified of every new
hire. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: Because we do new employee
orientation for everyone. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. And Dan? Dan Fort: In our case, we’re we have a very
decentralized system at EPA, so it would go to the individual office that’s hiring the
SGEs. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, how does your office know if you are missing
a financial disclosure form, or if so so I think because I think with the question that
that someone’s asked us, how do you track that? Like how do you know if you if your universe
of SGEs if you’re aware of the universe of SGEs? Dan Fort: Well, we do a survey every year
to find out how they using the OGE’s annual survey to find out, you know, how many SGEs
we have, whether they file the financial disclosure forms, how many they had, et cetera, et cetera. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: But in terms of looking at and reviewing
these individual SGEs, you know, that wound up being devolved down to our deputy ethics
official, whose power flows by EPA order down to the a level outside of the Office of General
Counsel of Ethics. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen; and you? Karen Santoro: For our FACA SGEs, we rely
on the designated federal official for that committee or panel to collect the forms and
review them. And they can consult us if they have questions. For our non-FACA SGEs, we have an electronic
filing system that will automatically notify us when people are delinquent and send reminders. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Okay. Very good. Okay. So, the FACA rules contain some some references,
actual references to the role of ethics officials in the federal advisory committee, you know,
sort of process. One of the things that we have quoted here
is that the DAEO should be consulted prior to appointing members. And then this other the other thing we have
from the from the regulation says that, you know, agencies have to assure that the interests
and affiliations of members are reviewed for conformance with ethics rules. So, my question to both of you is, what role
does your shop play, you know, either at with with respect to what’s being referenced here,
either in terms of being consulted prior to appointment, in terms of engaging in what
appears to be, you know I’m assuming that the second one is making reference to, you
know, conflicts of interest, and and other types of ethics concerns that that any of
the advisory committee members might have. So, what kind of role does your office play,
and kind of when do you step into this process, and who are you communicating with and what
does that look like in each of your organizations? Dan Fort: Well, in our case, like I said,
we have a very decentralized system at the agency, so we have deputy ethics officials,
for example, that are associated with each of the FACA committees, and they’re the ones
that review, sign the forms. In our case, in general counsel ethics, we
will get consulted if there is a question concerning a conflict of interest that they
are unable to resolve, or they have certain questions they want to ask us about potential
conflicts of interest or things of that nature. But outside of that, that’s actually devolved
down to the deputy ethics official level, so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, that would be like in regional offices? Is that what you’re referring to? Dan Fort: It wouldn’t be really in, to the
great extent, in our regional offices. It’s mostly our headquarters offices that
either deal with FACA committees or the the places where we have SGEs, you know, that
are are at headquarters. There certainly are some SGEs in regional
offices, and those would be their financial disclosure forms would be looked at by the
deputy ethics officials in the regions. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen, how what what role do you all play? Karen Santoro: So, as I mentioned, since most
of our committee members and panel members are automatically assumed to be SGEs, we really
don’t play much of a role in that. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And it is the program officer
or designated federal official who reviews the conflicts of interest forms and determines
whether or not there is some issue. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: For our non-FACA SGEs, again,
it’s personnel that lets us know when they’re on board, and we would do the collection of
the financial disclosure and the review. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So then there, you take a much more direct
role in sort of counseling them much the way you would like a regular Karen Santoro: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: employee. Karen Santoro: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: So again, can you repeat
who is it again with respect to your advisory committees who does that work? Karen Santoro: The designated federal official. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Oh, the designated federal
official. Karen Santoro: DFO it’s called. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: So, I’m curious what
kind of training have you guys been giving those folks, or how, you know how have you
equipped them to do that job? Karen Santoro: Well, we have a very active
committee management office, and they’re in charge of that. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And our office oftentimes is
asked to give a presentation to the advisory committee members, which includes the DFO. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And oftentimes our DFO is what
we call a conflicts official, who is a local, permanent employee in each of our offices
who regularly receives training from us. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. And they’re probably the ones in the best
position to have a full understanding of what the committee is doing, what’s coming before
the committee, and what even the potential for conflict may be. Karen Santoro: Absolutely. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm, that makes sense. Dan Fort: And I want to make two points. We you know, in our case, we have by EPA order,
we have deputy ethics officials, and we and they’re the ones that are, you know, make
the decisions on the our financial disclosure forms, and we also provide them with training,
as well as when a we have certain sample FACA committees that have mixed representatives
and SGEs. In that case, the general counsel does get
involved, and every time a committee charter is renewed, or any time new members come on,
then we get involved to make sure that the members are properly designated as either
special government employees or as representatives. So, that’s it’s very important to get involved
in that because you want to make sure that, you know, you’re not designating people as
representatives who actually should be special government employees Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Government employees. Dan Fort: so, that’s very, very important. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Absolutely. And we’re going to give you an opportunity
to talk about that in a lot more detail in a moment. So, for non-FACA SGE designations, again,
we were talking about that these would be like individual experts and consultants who
are not necessarily working on any kind of an advisory committee. Very often they are appointed pursuant to
an agency’s own internal personnel rules, and that, you know, in this instance, you
know, the agencies also have to designate the status of people who are non-FACA SGEs,
again, to make sure that they really are government employees and deserve the the status of SGEs. And Karen, I think you already I was going
to ask again, like what what role does the ethics shop play with non-FACA folks, and
whether or not it’s distinct from what you do for FACA folks? Now, and obviously at NSF, it is different. You play a different role. How about you, Dan? Dan Fort: Well, the vast majority of our SGEs
are Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Non-FACA? Dan Fort: non-FACA. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: Yeah, so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Just for informational purposes, and if you
guys have a like have a have a if either of you have any commentary on this. We ask the question, on the annual questionnaire
every year, whether or not agencies have written policies or procedures for designating SGE
status, and as you can see, only 40 percent of the federal government agencies actually
have policies and procedures. Now, that can be you know, I think I’m not
sure exactly whether or not this question addresses people only those people who have
SGEs. I’m assuming it does. But I’m curious; do you all have policies
and procedures, written policies and procedures? Dan Fort: Yes, we do. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: And what we did is we took a lot
of legal advisories that OGE has put together over the years, and formal letters, and put
it all together in one document, which we then use as our benchmark for helping people
decide whether someone should be an SGE or a representative. So, we always refer back to that document
when we have questions concerning that. And of course, we play the consultative role
in General Counsel to make sure that that happens during committee when the committee
is designated designating members either as SGEs or as representatives. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay, very good. Karen? Karen Santoro: So, it’s our personnel office
that has written procedures as to who gets designated as an SGE for non-FACA purposes. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, then the next question was; and you all
have kind of answered this one too, but maybe I’ll punt it back to you again just for clarification. So, if you had to when you did have to answer
this question, which office at your agency excuse me makes the determination that an
individual is an SGE? And Karen, I think you’re saying that for
for non for non-FACA, it’s the personnel office? Karen Santoro: Well, it’s the hiring office
who informs the personnel office Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: that that’s what they want. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay, okay. And Dan, you said it’s your Dan Fort: Well, for a FACA, it’s it’s actually
General Counsel, so we probably would fit in the other, so, but it but it but it sort
of they sort of work with us Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Dan Fort: and they’re in the ethics office,
so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: So, you could kind of say it’s us. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Just curious too, like, I know that a lot
of agencies are concerned about, and one of the biggest questions that they have is, how
do you establish the kind of cooperative relationship that you need with your HR, with your personnel
shops, or with any other organizations you have to work with in these in these circumstances? So, I’m kind of curious if either of you have
some, you know, best practices, or some words of advice for folks about how do you craft
those kinds of relationships with those people you have to rely on to do this function that,
obviously, affects your ability to do you piece of the work? Karen Santoro: Well, NSF is a very small agency. So, we do routinely work with our personnel
office, and we know them, and we regularly meet with them when issues come up. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: And we have, you know we’re sort
of a medium, to sort of well, I guess, I don’t know how you would call 15,000 people at least
it’s a medium agency, and in our case, luckily there’s a most of the folks that are in the
HR and personnel are in headquarters, so, you know, we can just go over and talk to
them, or we use this device that’s sitting about 2 feet in front of me called a telephone. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: Or use that other new marvel called
email and say let us know what’s going on. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: I’d say the only way to build those
personal relations is simply to build them. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right, right, very good
advice. Okay. So so now we’re going to sort of turn to this
whole question of representatives, which is, you know, SGEs versus representatives. And as we mentioned before, the key thing
with representatives is they are not employees; they are not considered government employees,
so consequently, they are not subject to the criminal conflict of interest statutes, or
to the standards of conduct. And you were saying that one of the indicia
of being a representative is that they they are intended to represent; I mean, that is
their whole purpose is to represent some type of non-governmental group, whether it’s, you
know, an industry, whether it’s, you know, a consumers, or some identified outside group
outside of government. And there there the intention is also then
that because they’re representing that group, they’re coming in with that particular point
of view. Dan Fort: You’d hope so, because that’s why
you have them there in the first place. You know, the way I always remember it, because,
you know, in my simple mind I’ve got to remember things in shorthand. The way I look at it is they’re wolves in
wolves’ clothing. You know, there must be a reason you put them
on there, and and by the way, when you, you know, are putting together this this chart
to figure out, gee, you know, they’re representatives, you’ve got to know what group they’re what
interest group they’re actually representing. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: Okay, you know, it’s, you know have
it nice and clear so you know who these representatives are, and what group they’re representing,
because if you don’t know, then nobody else on the committee is going to know, and the
public isn’t going to know. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right, right. So, we’ve listed here some of the authorities
that you consult to help inform whether or not they are actually representatives, or
intended to be representatives. And I know that sometimes in like the organic
statute that establishes them, that you’ll find an indication that, you know that the
Congress intended that there be certain representatives, and they’ll even use the word representatives,
but that’s not always the case, correct? I mean the language Dan Fort: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: can sometimes be not
entirely clear. Dan Fort: No, sometimes it’s not clear at
all. I mean, you know, in our in EPA’s case, most
of that legislation is in fact fairly clear, but in other cases it’s not. Well let’s say, you know, you want to you
want a representative from, you know you know, different parts of the country or something
like that, you know. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: So so, you know, you’ve got to look
at your enabling legislation carefully to see what it tells you about the designation
of members, so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Now, are there other
authorities? I mean, we’ve listed some other authorities
here, but in your own experience, have there been other authorities that you’ve had to
consult other than like legislation and, you know, and, you know, establishing organic
statutes? Is there is there any other authority that
you’ve seen where those kinds of stipulations would be? Dan Fort: Yeah, you know, if it’s a non-statutory
committee, you’ve got to look at the charter. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: Now and by the way, those charters
can change over time, because sometimes the charter is renewed, and sometimes the charter
may be renewed in such a way that may change the makeup of the committee, so you have to
be aware of for example, if you had a committee that was all representatives, and now the
nature of that committee has changed, and if you’re listening to me out there, you know
that sometimes that actually can happen. And sometimes you may find that you may need
now representative excuse me, special government employees to provide expertise in an area
to help your committee. If that occurs, don’t just appoint them as
representatives just because everybody else in the past has been a representative on the
committee, think about appointing them as special government employees, because you’re
hiring them for their expertise, not who they represent. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Very good. Now, and I think that’s really that’s that’s
really wonderful advice, because I mean I think that’s exactly it. If these things aren’t set in stone, and they
are dynamic, and they need to be periodically reevaluated, I think it’s really good for
people to have a heads up about that; that this does not mean that, once a representative,
always a representative. So, I said I was going to give you a little
document that sort of pulls together some of the more seminal OGE advice memoranda that
deal with SGEs. And, you know, this is for your convenience. I’m not going to go down through the list
here, but just just so that you’re aware that they are there. And you can find these on the Office of Government
Ethics’ website if you look under our legal advisories tab, you should be able to quite
readily find these by year, actually. And here’s a little list of advisory committee
best practices, and one of the one of them, among many, is, you know, to be involved early
on in the appointment process to make sure that, you know, that you’re catching people
with conflicts, or helping helping people who are making those decisions do their job
to the best of their ability, so that you’re keeping your committees, you know, as conflict-free
as as you possibly can, because that’s one of the sort of like the interesting conundrums
with SGEs is that the very reason you want them is for their expertise, and typically
expertise comes with its own set of, you know, relations and interests that may very well
be in direct conflict with what you actually want them to accomplish. So, without further ado, I’m going to turn
the the microphone, and whatever, over to Dan Dan Fort: Yeah. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: and the slide deck over
to Dan, and Dan’s going to talk to us a little bit about the ethics rules that apply, and
how to manage your SGEs’ ethics issues. Dan Fort: Now, keep an eye on our time. So, it’s about Karen Santoro: We’ve got an hour. We’ve got an hour. Dan Fort: Oh, an hour? Okay, great. So, what I’m going to talk about here is the
sort of core ethics rules that apply to SGEs. I’m not going to give you a detailed review
of all the ethics rules and regulations, because you know what, this is not going to be a memorization
exercise. Instead, what I want to do here is just to
point out some of the key issues for you. You know some I want to talk about some of
the things that you have to watch out for. And in as I said before, you know, EPA is
very decentralized. We have deputy ethics officials in each and
every one of our offices, and all of our FACA committees has a deputy ethics official, and
their power is sort of delegated by internal EPA order. I don’t know how your offices operate. They might be different. And in EPA’s case, you know, we have exactly,
you know, two full-time and two part-time ethics officials in General Counsel ethics,
and we have 15,000 employees, you know, in both headquarters here in D.C. We’ve got ten regional offices, lots of different
other labs and facilities, and we have several hundred SGEs. So, if you think we’re going to be able to
look it over with the, you know, three basic SGEs we’ve got in General Counsel ethics,
you know, we need our we need to depend on our deputy ethics official, and you may be
in the same situation as well. So, what I’m going to do now is show you some
of the basic laws and regulations. One I did not put in here is so, I’m going
to start with one that’s a little not mentioned with this and less familiar, and that’s 18
U.S.C. 209, and that’s supplementation of salary. That actually does not apply to SGEs; however,
you should know that under 5 C.F.R. 2635.807 says that you can’t an SGE cannot get non-government
compensation for teaching, speaking or writing, if it’s undertaken as part of their official
duties, or any manner to which they’re assigned, or been assigned in the previous one-year
period. But it only applies during that current appointment,
and if they serve less than 60 days, it’s only specific party matters that are covered. You know, that’s not to give you a memorization
exercise, it’s just to show you that the regulations covering special government employees are
not that straightforward. You’ve got to look at them, and you have to
look at several aspects of what your committee is doing so you’ll know how to apply the right
ethics rules and regs to your SGEs. Let me just talk a little bit about 203 and
205; obviously, not a criminal statute, and that talks about representation back to the
federal government, but, it turns out, if you’re an SGE, and it’s only and it’s less
than 60 days, it only applies for specific party matters; grants, contracts, enforcement
actions, that sort of thing, that the SGE participated in. But, if they serve over 60 days during the
immediately preceding 365-day period, they can’t represent back on any matter to the
particular agency where they’re working, but the rest of the government is okay. But, you know, they say on those knife commercials,
but wait, there’s more. Let’s talk about 18 U.S.C. 208, shall we? That’s the criminal statute concerning conflict
of interest. This is the one you’re probably, you know,
most familiar with. And I think that’s fascinating to look at
that in the context of Congressional intent concerning special government employees. And I’ll tell you why. So, as many of you know, if you’re working
on a FACA committee if an SGE if an SGE is working on a FACA committee, they are actually
eligible for a waiver under (b)(3), and the the criterion for that, for that waiver, is
that the interest of the government has to outweigh the potential for conflict. But, if they’re not working on a FACA committee,
they can’t get the (b)(3) waiver, they can only get the (b)(1) waiver; and in that case,
it’s the same (b)(1) waiver that all of us who are regular government employees are held
to. It’s a standard that the conflict can’t be
so substantial as to infect the integrity of employee activities. Do you all see the difference here? There’s clearly two types of SGEs, and it
was clearly Congress’ intent when they wrote this this law, because there are really two
types of SGEs; those that work on FACA committees and provide advice, right? That’s why you have them there; they’re providing
advice to your agency. And then there’s the other SGEs, the non-FACA
SGEs. What are they there for? Well, you know, they’re sort of the worker
bees. They work alongside of you, you know, every
day, and you may or may not know that they’re SGEs, right? But they’re there to do perhaps more than
just give you advice. There’s another exception, to go even deeper
into the weeds here, under 2640.203(g), that if you’re an SGE and you’re working on a FACA
committee, you’re not going to have a conflict of interest and there’s a whole bunch of extra
language in there which I’m not going to get into you’re not going to have a conflict of
interest by virtue of where you work, but only on matters of general applicability. Those are particular matters that affect a
group of people as a class. You know, in EPA’s case it could be utilities,
oil refineries, that sort of thing. Now, you think wow, that’s a huge exception,
and it sort of is, but while they will not have a conflict of interest because of where
they work, that doesn’t extend to their financial interests. So, that’s great, you can hire somebody who
works for, you know, ABC Chemical Company, and they can work on a matter of general applicability
which could affect ABC Chemical Company, you know, as a class, you know, and that’s not
a problem, unless they happen to have, you know, over $25,000 in stock in ABC Chemical
Company, in which case now they’ve got a conflict again. So, you know, okay, everybody confused yet? Okay, you know. If you’re not, you ought to be. I mean, I know I was. And, you know, there’s even more exceptions
here which, you know, (indiscernible – 0:42:42) for things like fundraising and emoluments
and accepting you know, accepting gifts from foreign governments. So, if you think we’re done with this, we’re
not. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Dan, I wanted to jump
in here just for one second, and and a couple of things came to mind for me. You were talking about how kind of the mind
boggles with the exceptions under 203 and 205 for SGEs because, you know, it creates
it carves out an exception for SGEs who are serving on advisory committees, and Dan Fort: 208 too, yeah. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: But then it goes on
to say, but then if you only if you don’t serve more than 60 days, and so so we’ve got
day counting, and then we’ve got day counting on top of day counting, in order to be able
to determine what of these laws apply. So, I’m curious as to who I mean, do you put
that all back on the SGE to keep on top of their day counting, and even if you do that,
like what do you all do to like counsel people so that they understand? I mean, like this is complex enough for us
to get our heads around, like how do you how do you help SGEs like even know this, or keep
track of it for them or Dan Fort: What a great question. And and and the answer to that question, at
least in our case, is we make sure that they actually take their ethics training, which
they’re required to do, and I must say that OGE has excellent, and brilliantly written,
I must say, online ethics training concerning SGEs. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: A little self-promotion
going on here, Dan. Dan Fort: And I’m not saying that just because
I wrote it a few years ago, you know. Well, I think I probably needed to revise
it, but that’s neither here nor there. But yeah, I mean, if you don’t tell them,
they’re not going to know; that’s number one. Number two is, you got to make sure that the
ethics official, in our case, knows that that’s a situation, and then they can talk to the
personnel person, you know, in their shop, and keep track of it. Now, we’re lucky that almost none of our SGEs
serve over 60 days. We love them, but we get rid of them before
they hit that 60-day mark. But but somebody’s got to be minding the shop. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Dan Fort: And you’ve got to make sure who
that is. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen, do you have mechanisms for helping
people keep track, or Karen Santoro: Well, our FACA SGEs all work
60 days or less. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: So, that’s the bulk of our
SGEs, about 16,000 a year. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Wow. Karen Santoro: And the rest of our non-FACA
SGEs, it’s the personnel office that keeps track of their days. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay, okay, very good. I think that was the only question I had Dan Fort: Oh, okay. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: so you go right ahead. Dan Fort: So, you know, I’m not going to go
into all the standards of of conduct, because we’ll be here all day. So, let me just talk a little bit about financial
disclosure. Now, you all know you’re going to have to
collect these reports, right? And someone’s going to have to review them,
just like somebody reviews the the financial disclosure reports of all the regular government
employees, right, and, I mean, it just has to get done. And both NSF and ourselves, we use our own
form, approved by the Office of Government Ethics, because we we needed more frankly
we needed more information than we were getting out of the 450. And we need information on peoples’ contracts,
and their grants, and whether there was any reason they couldn’t serve on a on a committee. And, you know, and we just needed that information,
right? And the fact of the matter is you’re not going
to get that on an OGE 450, so, you know. And and then you’re have to be aware of other
things; if you pay an SGE over $59.02 an hour, and they work more than 60 days in the 365-day
period, guess what? Those lucky people have to fill out the OGE
278e form. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: They become public filers. And and not only that and believe me, when
you tell them that now their financial disclosure forms are going to be made public just by
the filling out of a certain form, see what happens. And not only that, but now they’re covered
by the STOCK Act. That means now they have to go through everything
ever concerning, you know, reporting their stock transactions periodically on the on
the 278t form. They now have to give you notification on
negotiation for employment and all that other good stuff. So, you got to keep track of their days, and
you got to keep track of what you’re paying them as well. So, just because you’re you have somebody
there keeping track of the days, make sure you know how much they’re getting paid, too. Because that could be a problem, okay? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: So, and people have
to annualize that, right? Whatever they’re being paid per hour, you
annualize that to decide if that’s if they meet the reporting threshold? Dan Fort: That is a good question. We pay them by the hour, so I think that’s
right, it does go by the annual. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: So, the question is and when I I
think, you know tell folks is that, you know, Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: (Audio starts mid-sentence)
Fundamental Series. I’m Cheryl Piasecki, and I’m very pleased to be joined today by two
of my colleagues from the ethics community. Dan Fort is an ethics official with the Environmental
Protection Agency. And Karen Santoro is the DAEO at the National Science Foundation. And
I want to welcome you both to the show today. Dan Fort: Thank you. Karen Santoro: Thank you. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: For those of you who
are who may have attended the OGE Summit in March, I just wanted to alert you that this
is, in many respects, a similar presentation, if not an identical presentation from what
we delivered at the summit. This was not a session that had been streamed, so that’s
why we decided to have it be one of our Fundamental Series’ broadcasts. And before we get started on today’s session
where we’re talking going to be talking about managing SGE service, I do have a few brief
announcements. Next week, for the Advanced Practitioner Series,
we’re also going to be invite we have also invited some folks from outside of OGE to
come in for a panel presentation. The discussion is going to be on the interplay between FOIA,
the Ethics in Government Act and the Privacy Act with respect to ethics documents. I think
that that’s a that’s something that’s of great interest to the community, and so we’re really
pleased to be able to offer that to you next week. The first week in May, is what tentatively
we have scheduled to deliver our three-day 278e massive, open, online course. What we
will be doing is introducing sort of an introductory-level review of the 278e. As I said, it will be
a three-day massive, open, online course, so there will be exercises and application
exercises that we would invite you to engage in. So, be looking for announcements about
that probably in the first week in May. And with that, Patrick, if you would be willing
to to bring up our slide deck, we’ll go ahead and get started with today’s discussion about
managing SGEs. Okay. Well, I think Karen and Dan; I think
SGEs are are a concept that I think a lot of people find quite confusing for for a variety
of reasons. I think, in large measure, because the folks aren’t even sure, I don’t think,
where the definition of this comes from. Like, where what this concept is related to. And as I’ve pulled up here on this on this
slide, curiously enough, where you find the definition of an SGE is in Title 18 of the
United States Code, and that’s in the criminal conflict of interest statutes, in 202, where
all the definitions for the criminal conflict of interest statutes reside. And I think,
unfortunately, a lot of folks think that this is somehow a personnel law concept, and so
so, I think when it comes to sort of managing SGEs, and deciding who is responsible for
identifying them, who is responsible for tracking them, how we even know who is an SGE, I think
the very fact that it that it got its genesis is in the conflict of interest laws; it sort
of makes life a little complicated for everyone. Would you agree with that? Dan Fort: Yeah, I would agree with that. And
it’s just fascinating that the reason and it must be oh my God, it must be over half
a century ago, that that the whole idea of SGEs came into being when the government needed
the temporary services of of people to serve as government employees for their particular
expertise. It wasn’t that you were going to, you know, get a federal job, like those of
us here; we’re all regular government employees, and probably most of the people listening
are regular government employees. The idea was to only have temporary service
to assist the government for a short period of time. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. And and if you
look at the definition, that’s it’s that’s pretty much what the definition is is an indication
of. It says the term special government employee is an officer or an employee who is retained,
designated, appointed or employed to perform and it’s with or without compensation not
to exceed 130 days’ temporary duties either on a full-time or an intermittent basis. So, the very the very nature of special government
employees is the intent is that they will be temporary employees; there’s not an intention
that they would be full-time federal government employees. So, understanding that that is the definition,
and that’s where the definition resides, I think one of the first points that we have
to be very cognizant of is that special government employees are, first and foremost, employees.
For someone to have an SGE status, they have to be an employee. And so, what OGE has has
said in its advisories is that you look for indicia of employment, where that definition
resides, which is in 5 U.S.C. 2105. And in that in that statute, they basically
lay out three, rather vague I would say, criteria for what constitutes, you know, someone having
employee status with the government; and that’s that they’ve been appointed to the civil service,
that they have an employment; they’re performing a federal function; and they’re being supervised
by a federal official. Now, I know this comes up, and people might
be saying, well, why would we ever have to question whether or not somebody was an SGE
or an employee? And we’re going to talk about this in a little bit more detail later, but
there are folks who come to provide service to the government who are considered representatives.
And when you’re making designations about whether or not that individual’s service makes
them subject to any ethics rules, you have to first determine whether or not they are
actually a representative or an employee. And these are three of the criteria that 5
U.S.C. lays out, as to what makes someone an employee. And Dan, you and I were talking a little earlier
about how EPA because you said you do have some representatives in some of your committees,
correct? Dan Fort: Yes, we do. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, do you want
to share with folks and we’re going to talk about this in a little bit more detail later,
but I thought it was really interesting that you said that you had like four things that
you all look to when you’re trying to decide whether someone is an employee or a representative. Dan Fort: Yeah, I get it. What we did is put
together an EPA document, an ethics advisory, where we laid out the criteria by which you
would determine whether somebody would be a representative or a special government employee.
And, you know, what we did is we took a lot of OGE’s legal advisories, informal advisories,
and sort of sort of smacked them all together so we could have one convenient document to
look at. So, there’s really four things that we look
at. One is we look at the anticipated role of the advisory committee member; you know,
what are they going to be doing? Are they there for their expertise or are they there
because they’re representing a group or a viewpoint. We also ask ourselves, is the member
going to receive compensation from from the agency? Was the member appointed by recommendation
by outside parties? And lastly, does the the enabling legislation for the committee, if
it’s a statutory committee or they’re a committee charter, sort of help you determine what kind
of advisory committee committee members you’re going to have. Are they representatives or
special government employees? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. And we’re going
to come back to that and I’m going to ask you to elaborate on that a little bit more
later when we actually start talking more specifically and discretely about representatives;
because you’ve touched on on some of the things that I think are really material to that determination. But for right now, we’re going to sort of
like continue on with when your when you have made a determination and you know that the
people that you have appointed are actually employees, such that they are legitimately
special government employees. We I think it’s important to understand what makes these people
special. Like why is this category of employees somehow how are they separated out from regular
rank and file employees? Because you can be temporary, you can be part time, you can be
full time, and so where where’s that line drawn, and what makes somebody suddenly special? The first thing is that the duties are temporary.
And the statute the definition in the statute itself says exactly what temporary means;
and it means that they serve 130 days or less in a 365-day consecutive period. So, from
you would you would calculate that like from the date that they would be appointed if you
do a 365-degree look ahead of that appointment date, you make an estimation about whether
or not you anticipate that they’re going to serve for more for 130 days or less. If you
fully anticipate that their service will meet that day-counting criterion, then you can
you can you can consider them SGEs, and designate them as special government employees. And
then that SGE status remains with them throughout that entire one year appointment period. Now, I don’t know, have you all had experiences
where your SGEs have exceeded the 130 day period? Karen Santoro: We’ve had a couple. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And it’s our personnel office
that notifies us of the days. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And at that point, we get back
to the SGE and say you’re no longer special. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: Here are the additional ethics
rules that apply to you. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Okay. And I’m
curious that when when you have people who who who extend for an additional year, like
their appointment is going to extend beyond the additional year, do you then reevaluate
their status for the for however long that their appointment is going to be? Karen Santoro: We basically look at what their
duties are going to be. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: If we need them for advice Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: then we would mainly consider
them special government employees. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Okay. So so really,
it comes down to the SGE status is basically a day-counting function. You have to look
at the number of days that you anticipate someone is going to to provide services, and
if they’re going to fall within that ambit of that day counting, they are special government
employees, not just part-time employees. Because you can have somebody who is working part
time, but if they’re, you know, going to work, you know, more than 130 days, and you anticipate
they’re going to work more than 130 days, they don’t get the special government employee
moniker. The other thing is you don’t have to pay special
government employees. They can serve with or without compensation. And as Dan and Karen
are both going to talk about here in a little bit, the ethics rules are going to apply,
you know, somewhat differently, in some context. Some of the rules and laws apply the same,
and some of the rules and laws apply differently; and we’re going to sort of parse that out
later on in today’s presentation. One advisory may Dan mentioned that EPA has
sort of sort of tried to come up with a comprehensive document that pulls together a lot of the
advisories that OGE has issued dealing with SGEs, but one of the most comprehensive that
OGE issued, and I think it’s still relevant and still it’s still applicable, is the OGE
advisory from February 15, 2000. And you can find that on our on OGE’s website. This really has to be if you deal with SGEs
this has to be in your arsenal. You have to have this advisory in your toolkit, and have
read it and looked at it, because it covers everything from day counting to what are the
indicia of employee status to walking you through literally every standards of conduct,
and every conflict of interest statute, and letting you know which ones apply to SGEs,
and specifically how they apply to SGEs. Yeah, Patrick, did you have a Patrick Shepherd: Yes, we do. We have a couple
of questions coming in Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Patrick Shepherd: over the Hangout that I
think are timely. And the first question is; this person thought
that SGEs could remain SGEs if they work more than 130 days, as long as there was a good
faith estimate made at the beginning. You know, could you speak to that? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I think in OGE’s interpretation
is that when you make a designation at the beginning of the appointment, then that lasts
for the that lasts for the extension of the appointment. But if they exceed the 130 days,
that what we advise in our in our guidance document is that that should inform your next
assessment about whether or not they retain SGE status for any subsequent appointments.
And I think that’s what OGE’s guidance document says. Patrick Shepherd: Excellent, thank you. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Was there another question
or Patrick Shepherd: Yes, there is another question,
and this question is can you recoup any money paid to them if they’ve worked over the 130
days? How does that work for compensation? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I’m going to ask Dan
and Karen to address that question. Dan Fort: Outside of my field, however. Karen Santoro: Yes, I do not know. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, you’ve stumped
us. You’ve stumped the panel. Dan Fort: Quick, call a personnel lawyer. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I know I have no question
who would who would you consult on a situation like that? Dan Fort: That would be personnel folks. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: My guess is, you know, once you
pay them, you pay them, you know, but not my field however. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Okay. Right.
Back on the slide deck, Patrick, if you could. Okay. So, we’ve we’re going to divide, you
know, the the SGE moniker into sort of two separate groups. This we could quibble about
whether or not this may or may not be the best way to divide up SGEs for for purposes
of understanding the different variations in which they come. But I think for purposes
of what of our presentation today, this makes pretty good sense. We have what we call FACA SGEs, who are special
government employees who were serving as members on federal advisory committees that are subject
to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. So, it stands to reason that if that’s one subgroup,
there is actually another group, which are non FACA, which are SGEs who may be on committees,
maybe serving on advisory committees, that aren’t subject to the Federal Advisory Committee
Act. Or there’s also this other group, which aren’t necessarily committee members at all,
but are people who are hired on a temporary basis to serve as experts or consultants to
the agency, and it’s by virtue of the fact that it’s temporary duties for 130 days or
less, which is what makes them a special government employee. Like I said, we’ve divided this into FACA
versus non-FACA, and I’m going to ask oh, and this is just a the next slide is is just
a little thing that we got from the 2014 OGE annual questionnaire, to give you kind of
a breakdown of when we are talking about, particularly advisory committee SGEs, the
preponderance of SGEs that we have in the federal government who who serve on advisory
committees, are serving on FACA advisory committees. As you can see the numbers the numbers sort
of like spell that out for us. But what I’m going to ask my two colleagues
here to talk about, because I am not a resident expert on FACA, and these two folks really
have a lot of experience, is to sort of briefly explain, you know, what is FACA, what is its
purpose, you know, who who heads it up, who is responsible for it, where do you look for
guidance? And, you know, Karen and Dan, either of you jump in and and kind of take charge
of this one. Dan Fort: I’ll let you do this one. Karen Santoro: So, my understanding is that
FACA was enacted so that the work of the government could be transparent. So, when we call in
our outside experts, the public ought to know about that. They get notified of meetings,
they have the opportunity to attend if it’s open, they know who our experts are, and they
know the basis on which we arrived at our decisions. It’s actually GSA that enforces the FACA law
and the regulations. They have a committee management secretariat. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. And do either
of you have non-FACA committees that you deal with? Karen Santoro: We have one that concerns diving
safety in the Antarctic. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Oooh. Dan Fort: That’s nice. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: See, you have all the
sexy advisory committees at the National Science Foundation. Karen Santoro: But we do have non-FACA SGEs
who are outside of the committees. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: The committees. So,
you have experts and consultants who are SGEs? Karen Santoro: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: We typically refer to them
as intermittent experts. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Do you know, or
can you address the issue of how do you know if your committee is a FACA committee or not? Karen Santoro: All of ours are, except the
one I mentioned. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And it’s due to the charter. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So so the charter
would indicate whether or not it was intended to be a FACA committee, is that correct? Karen Santoro: Yes. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Okay. So, the
really what the issue with FACA is we’re looking for transparency, right? We’re looking for
transparency and accountability that, you know, to the extent that we’re bringing in
experts to advise the government, those processes are transparent, and the public has an opportunity
to see like what people are discussing and bringing to the table, is that kind of, generally Karen Santoro: Yes. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: correct? Okay. Dan Fort: That’s the reason FACA was enacted
in the first place is to provide that transparency, which was lacking prior to its enactment. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm, okay. Patrick Shepherd: And we do have another question
coming in over the Hangout, and this also deals with how agencies designate and keep
track of special government employees. And this question is probably for Dan and Karen. How do you keep track of who is an SGE? Do
you just note that on the SF 50, or are there other ways that you make that formal designation? Dan Fort: Well in our case, which I’ll get
to in a moment, we actually have our very own form, a confidential financial disclosure
form, which we created and for which we got approval from OGE. And we make all of our
special government employees fill it out, as long as they are confidential financial
disclosure filers. If we have one, an SGE, who meets the criteria
for being the public financial disclosure, and I don’t think we’ve had any of those for
at least maybe a year, maybe two years, probably more. In that case, then of course they’re
obligated to fill out the OGE 278e and be in Integrity, of course. So, if they are an SGE, they fill out an entirely
different form than the OGE 450, although it has many similarities to the 450, so by
definition we know who they are. Karen Santoro: So, like EPA, the National
Science Foundation has its own alternative confidential filing disclosure form for our
SGEs, but it only applies to our SGEs who are on advisory committees or our proposal
review panels. The non-FACA SGEs would typically either file a 278e or a 450. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: And it is the office that does
the hiring who tells personnel we want this individual to only serve this many days, and
that’s how the SGE is designated. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, effectively,
it’s the hiring official informs personnel, and then you get notified because they are
filers. So, it’s through the filing process that your office gets notified that these
folks are onboard? Karen Santoro: We are notified of every new
hire. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: Because we do new employee
orientation for everyone. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. And Dan? Dan Fort: In our case, we’re we have a very
decentralized system at EPA, so it would go to the individual office that’s hiring the
SGEs. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, how does your
office know if you are missing a financial disclosure form, or if so so I think because
I think with the question that that someone’s asked us, how do you track that? Like how
do you know if you if your universe of SGEs if you’re aware of the universe of SGEs? Dan Fort: Well, we do a survey every year
to find out how they using the OGE’s annual survey to find out, you know, how many SGEs
we have, whether they file the financial disclosure forms, how many they had, et cetera, et cetera. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: But in terms of looking at and reviewing
these individual SGEs, you know, that wound up being devolved down to our deputy ethics
official, whose power flows by EPA order down to the a level outside of the Office of General
Counsel of Ethics. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen; and you? Karen Santoro: For our FACA SGEs, we rely
on the designated federal official for that committee or panel to collect the forms and
review them. And they can consult us if they have questions. For our non-FACA SGEs, we have an electronic
filing system that will automatically notify us when people are delinquent and send reminders. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Okay. Very good.
Okay. So, the FACA rules contain some some references,
actual references to the role of ethics officials in the federal advisory committee, you know,
sort of process. One of the things that we have quoted here is that the DAEO should be
consulted prior to appointing members. And then this other the other thing we have from
the from the regulation says that, you know, agencies have to assure that the interests
and affiliations of members are reviewed for conformance with ethics rules. So, my question to both of you is, what role
does your shop play, you know, either at with with respect to what’s being referenced here,
either in terms of being consulted prior to appointment, in terms of engaging in what
appears to be, you know I’m assuming that the second one is making reference to, you
know, conflicts of interest, and and other types of ethics concerns that that any of
the advisory committee members might have. So, what kind of role does your office play,
and kind of when do you step into this process, and who are you communicating with and what
does that look like in each of your organizations? Dan Fort: Well, in our case, like I said,
we have a very decentralized system at the agency, so we have deputy ethics officials,
for example, that are associated with each of the FACA committees, and they’re the ones
that review, sign the forms. In our case, in general counsel ethics, we will get consulted
if there is a question concerning a conflict of interest that they are unable to resolve,
or they have certain questions they want to ask us about potential conflicts of interest
or things of that nature. But outside of that, that’s actually devolved down to the deputy
ethics official level, so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, that would
be like in regional offices? Is that what you’re referring to? Dan Fort: It wouldn’t be really in, to the
great extent, in our regional offices. It’s mostly our headquarters offices that either
deal with FACA committees or the the places where we have SGEs, you know, that are are
at headquarters. There certainly are some SGEs in regional
offices, and those would be their financial disclosure forms would be looked at by the
deputy ethics officials in the regions. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen, how what
what role do you all play? Karen Santoro: So, as I mentioned, since most
of our committee members and panel members are automatically assumed to be SGEs, we really
don’t play much of a role in that. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And it is the program officer
or designated federal official who reviews the conflicts of interest forms and determines
whether or not there is some issue. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: For our non-FACA SGEs, again,
it’s personnel that lets us know when they’re on board, and we would do the collection of
the financial disclosure and the review. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So then there,
you take a much more direct role in sort of counseling them much the way you would like
a regular Karen Santoro: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: employee. Karen Santoro: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: So again, can you repeat
who is it again with respect to your advisory committees who does that work? Karen Santoro: The designated federal official. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Oh, the designated federal
official. Karen Santoro: DFO it’s called. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: So, I’m curious what
kind of training have you guys been giving those folks, or how, you know how have you
equipped them to do that job? Karen Santoro: Well, we have a very active
committee management office, and they’re in charge of that. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And our office oftentimes is
asked to give a presentation to the advisory committee members, which includes the DFO. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen Santoro: And oftentimes our DFO is what
we call a conflicts official, who is a local, permanent employee in each of our offices
who regularly receives training from us. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. And they’re probably
the ones in the best position to have a full understanding of what the committee is doing,
what’s coming before the committee, and what even the potential for conflict may be. Karen Santoro: Absolutely. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm, that makes sense. Dan Fort: And I want to make two points. We
you know, in our case, we have by EPA order, we have deputy ethics officials, and we and
they’re the ones that are, you know, make the decisions on the our financial disclosure
forms, and we also provide them with training, as well as when a we have certain sample FACA
committees that have mixed representatives and SGEs. In that case, the general counsel
does get involved, and every time a committee charter is renewed, or any time new members
come on, then we get involved to make sure that the members are properly designated as
either special government employees or as representatives. So, that’s it’s very important to get involved
in that because you want to make sure that, you know, you’re not designating people as
representatives who actually should be special government employees Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Government employees. Dan Fort: so, that’s very, very important. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Absolutely. And we’re
going to give you an opportunity to talk about that in a lot more detail in a moment. So, for non-FACA SGE designations, again,
we were talking about that these would be like individual experts and consultants who
are not necessarily working on any kind of an advisory committee. Very often they are appointed pursuant to
an agency’s own internal personnel rules, and that, you know, in this instance, you
know, the agencies also have to designate the status of people who are non-FACA SGEs,
again, to make sure that they really are government employees and deserve the the status of SGEs. And Karen, I think you already I was going
to ask again, like what what role does the ethics shop play with non-FACA folks, and
whether or not it’s distinct from what you do for FACA folks? Now, and obviously at NSF,
it is different. You play a different role. How about you, Dan? Dan Fort: Well, the vast majority of our SGEs
are Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Non-FACA? Dan Fort: non-FACA. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: Yeah, so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Just for informational
purposes, and if you guys have a like have a have a if either of you have any commentary
on this. We ask the question, on the annual questionnaire
every year, whether or not agencies have written policies or procedures for designating SGE
status, and as you can see, only 40 percent of the federal government agencies actually
have policies and procedures. Now, that can be you know, I think I’m not sure exactly
whether or not this question addresses people only those people who have SGEs. I’m assuming
it does. But I’m curious; do you all have policies
and procedures, written policies and procedures? Dan Fort: Yes, we do. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: And what we did is we took a lot
of legal advisories that OGE has put together over the years, and formal letters, and put
it all together in one document, which we then use as our benchmark for helping people
decide whether someone should be an SGE or a representative. So, we always refer back
to that document when we have questions concerning that. And of course, we play the consultative
role in General Counsel to make sure that that happens during committee when the committee
is designated designating members either as SGEs or as representatives. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay, very good. Karen? Karen Santoro: So, it’s our personnel office
that has written procedures as to who gets designated as an SGE for non-FACA purposes. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. So, then the next
question was; and you all have kind of answered this one too, but maybe I’ll punt it back
to you again just for clarification. So, if you had to when you did have to answer
this question, which office at your agency excuse me makes the determination that an
individual is an SGE? And Karen, I think you’re saying that for for non for non-FACA, it’s
the personnel office? Karen Santoro: Well, it’s the hiring office
who informs the personnel office Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: that that’s what they want. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay, okay. And Dan,
you said it’s your Dan Fort: Well, for a FACA, it’s it’s actually
General Counsel, so we probably would fit in the other, so, but it but it but it sort
of they sort of work with us Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Dan Fort: and they’re in the ethics office,
so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: So, you could kind of say it’s us. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Just curious too,
like, I know that a lot of agencies are concerned about, and one of the biggest questions that
they have is, how do you establish the kind of cooperative relationship that you need
with your HR, with your personnel shops, or with any other organizations you have to work
with in these in these circumstances? So, I’m kind of curious if either of you have
some, you know, best practices, or some words of advice for folks about how do you craft
those kinds of relationships with those people you have to rely on to do this function that,
obviously, affects your ability to do you piece of the work? Karen Santoro: Well, NSF is a very small agency.
So, we do routinely work with our personnel office, and we know them, and we regularly
meet with them when issues come up. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: And we have, you know we’re sort
of a medium, to sort of well, I guess, I don’t know how you would call 15,000 people at least
it’s a medium agency, and in our case, luckily there’s a most of the folks that are in the
HR and personnel are in headquarters, so, you know, we can just go over and talk to
them, or we use this device that’s sitting about 2 feet in front of me called a telephone. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: Or use that other new marvel called
email and say let us know what’s going on. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: I’d say the only way to build those
personal relations is simply to build them. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right, right, very good
advice. Okay. So so now we’re going to sort of turn
to this whole question of representatives, which is, you know, SGEs versus representatives.
And as we mentioned before, the key thing with representatives is they are not employees;
they are not considered government employees, so consequently, they are not subject to the
criminal conflict of interest statutes, or to the standards of conduct. And you were saying that one of the indicia
of being a representative is that they they are intended to represent; I mean, that is
their whole purpose is to represent some type of non-governmental group, whether it’s, you
know, an industry, whether it’s, you know, a consumers, or some identified outside group
outside of government. And there there the intention is also then that because they’re
representing that group, they’re coming in with that particular point of view. Dan Fort: You’d hope so, because that’s why
you have them there in the first place. You know, the way I always remember it, because,
you know, in my simple mind I’ve got to remember things in shorthand. The way I look at it
is they’re wolves in wolves’ clothing. You know, there must be a reason you put them
on there, and and by the way, when you, you know, are putting together this this chart
to figure out, gee, you know, they’re representatives, you’ve got to know what group they’re what
interest group they’re actually representing. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: Okay, you know, it’s, you know have
it nice and clear so you know who these representatives are, and what group they’re representing,
because if you don’t know, then nobody else on the committee is going to know, and the
public isn’t going to know. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right, right. So, we’ve
listed here some of the authorities that you consult to help inform whether or not they
are actually representatives, or intended to be representatives. And I know that sometimes
in like the organic statute that establishes them, that you’ll find an indication that,
you know that the Congress intended that there be certain representatives, and they’ll even
use the word representatives, but that’s not always the case, correct? I mean the language Dan Fort: Right. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: can sometimes be not
entirely clear. Dan Fort: No, sometimes it’s not clear at
all. I mean, you know, in our in EPA’s case, most of that legislation is in fact fairly
clear, but in other cases it’s not. Well let’s say, you know, you want to you want a representative
from, you know you know, different parts of the country or something like that, you know. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: So so, you know, you’ve got to look
at your enabling legislation carefully to see what it tells you about the designation
of members, so. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Now, are there other
authorities? I mean, we’ve listed some other authorities here, but in your own experience,
have there been other authorities that you’ve had to consult other than like legislation
and, you know, and, you know, establishing organic statutes? Is there is there any other
authority that you’ve seen where those kinds of stipulations would be? Dan Fort: Yeah, you know, if it’s a non-statutory
committee, you’ve got to look at the charter. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Dan Fort: Now and by the way, those charters
can change over time, because sometimes the charter is renewed, and sometimes the charter
may be renewed in such a way that may change the makeup of the committee, so you have to
be aware of for example, if you had a committee that was all representatives, and now the
nature of that committee has changed, and if you’re listening to me out there, you know
that sometimes that actually can happen. And sometimes you may find that you may need now
representative excuse me, special government employees to provide expertise in an area
to help your committee. If that occurs, don’t just appoint them as
representatives just because everybody else in the past has been a representative on the
committee, think about appointing them as special government employees, because you’re
hiring them for their expertise, not who they represent. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Very good. Now, and
I think that’s really that’s that’s really wonderful advice, because I mean I think that’s
exactly it. If these things aren’t set in stone, and they are dynamic, and they need
to be periodically reevaluated, I think it’s really good for people to have a heads up
about that; that this does not mean that, once a representative, always a representative. So, I said I was going to give you a little
document that sort of pulls together some of the more seminal OGE advice memoranda that
deal with SGEs. And, you know, this is for your convenience. I’m not going to go down
through the list here, but just just so that you’re aware that they are there. And you
can find these on the Office of Government Ethics’ website if you look under our legal
advisories tab, you should be able to quite readily find these by year, actually. And here’s a little list of advisory committee
best practices, and one of the one of them, among many, is, you know, to be involved early
on in the appointment process to make sure that, you know, that you’re catching people
with conflicts, or helping helping people who are making those decisions do their job
to the best of their ability, so that you’re keeping your committees, you know, as conflict-free
as as you possibly can, because that’s one of the sort of like the interesting conundrums
with SGEs is that the very reason you want them is for their expertise, and typically
expertise comes with its own set of, you know, relations and interests that may very well
be in direct conflict with what you actually want them to accomplish. So, without further ado, I’m going to turn
the the microphone, and whatever, over to Dan Dan Fort: Yeah. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: and the slide deck over
to Dan, and Dan’s going to talk to us a little bit about the ethics rules that apply, and
how to manage your SGEs’ ethics issues. Dan Fort: Now, keep an eye on our time. So,
it’s about Karen Santoro: We’ve got an hour. We’ve got
an hour. Dan Fort: Oh, an hour? Okay, great. So, what
I’m going to talk about here is the sort of core ethics rules that apply to SGEs. I’m
not going to give you a detailed review of all the ethics rules and regulations, because
you know what, this is not going to be a memorization exercise. Instead, what I want to do here is just to
point out some of the key issues for you. You know some I want to talk about some of
the things that you have to watch out for. And in as I said before, you know, EPA is
very decentralized. We have deputy ethics officials in each and every one of our offices,
and all of our FACA committees has a deputy ethics official, and their power is sort of
delegated by internal EPA order. I don’t know how your offices operate. They might be different.
And in EPA’s case, you know, we have exactly, you know, two full-time and two part-time
ethics officials in General Counsel ethics, and we have 15,000 employees, you know, in
both headquarters here in D.C. We’ve got ten regional offices, lots of different other
labs and facilities, and we have several hundred SGEs. So, if you think we’re going to be able
to look it over with the, you know, three basic SGEs we’ve got in General Counsel ethics,
you know, we need our we need to depend on our deputy ethics official, and you may be
in the same situation as well. So, what I’m going to do now is show you some
of the basic laws and regulations. One I did not put in here is so, I’m going to start
with one that’s a little not mentioned with this and less familiar, and that’s 18 U.S.C.
209, and that’s supplementation of salary. That actually does not apply to SGEs; however,
you should know that under 5 C.F.R. 2635.807 says that you can’t an SGE cannot get non-government
compensation for teaching, speaking or writing, if it’s undertaken as part of their official
duties, or any manner to which they’re assigned, or been assigned in the previous one-year
period. But it only applies during that current appointment, and if they serve less than 60
days, it’s only specific party matters that are covered. You know, that’s not to give you a memorization
exercise, it’s just to show you that the regulations covering special government employees are
not that straightforward. You’ve got to look at them, and you have to look at several aspects
of what your committee is doing so you’ll know how to apply the right ethics rules and
regs to your SGEs. Let me just talk a little bit about 203 and
205; obviously, not a criminal statute, and that talks about representation back to the
federal government, but, it turns out, if you’re an SGE, and it’s only and it’s less
than 60 days, it only applies for specific party matters; grants, contracts, enforcement
actions, that sort of thing, that the SGE participated in. But, if they serve over 60
days during the immediately preceding 365-day period, they can’t represent back on any matter
to the particular agency where they’re working, but the rest of the government is okay. But,
you know, they say on those knife commercials, but wait, there’s more. Let’s talk about 18 U.S.C. 208, shall we?
That’s the criminal statute concerning conflict of interest. This is the one you’re probably,
you know, most familiar with. And I think that’s fascinating to look at that in the
context of Congressional intent concerning special government employees. And I’ll tell
you why. So, as many of you know, if you’re working on a FACA committee if an SGE if an
SGE is working on a FACA committee, they are actually eligible for a waiver under (b)(3),
and the the criterion for that, for that waiver, is that the interest of the government has
to outweigh the potential for conflict. But, if they’re not working on a FACA committee,
they can’t get the (b)(3) waiver, they can only get the (b)(1) waiver; and in that case,
it’s the same (b)(1) waiver that all of us who are regular government employees are held
to. It’s a standard that the conflict can’t be so substantial as to infect the integrity
of employee activities. Do you all see the difference here? There’s
clearly two types of SGEs, and it was clearly Congress’ intent when they wrote this this
law, because there are really two types of SGEs; those that work on FACA committees and
provide advice, right? That’s why you have them there; they’re providing advice to your
agency. And then there’s the other SGEs, the non-FACA
SGEs. What are they there for? Well, you know, they’re sort of the worker bees. They work
alongside of you, you know, every day, and you may or may not know that they’re SGEs,
right? But they’re there to do perhaps more than just give you advice. There’s another exception, to go even deeper
into the weeds here, under 2640.203(g), that if you’re an SGE and you’re working on a FACA
committee, you’re not going to have a conflict of interest and there’s a whole bunch of extra
language in there which I’m not going to get into you’re not going to have a conflict of
interest by virtue of where you work, but only on matters of general applicability.
Those are particular matters that affect a group of people as a class. You know, in EPA’s
case it could be utilities, oil refineries, that sort of thing. Now, you think wow, that’s a huge exception,
and it sort of is, but while they will not have a conflict of interest because of where
they work, that doesn’t extend to their financial interests. So, that’s great, you can hire
somebody who works for, you know, ABC Chemical Company, and they can work on a matter of
general applicability which could affect ABC Chemical Company, you know, as a class, you
know, and that’s not a problem, unless they happen to have, you know, over $25,000 in
stock in ABC Chemical Company, in which case now they’ve got a conflict again. So, you know, okay, everybody confused yet?
Okay, you know. If you’re not, you ought to be. I mean, I know I was. And, you know, there’s
even more exceptions here which, you know, (indiscernible – 0:42:42) for things like
fundraising and emoluments and accepting you know, accepting gifts from foreign governments.
So, if you think we’re done with this, we’re not. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Dan, I wanted to jump
in here just for one second, and and a couple of things came to mind for me. You were talking
about how kind of the mind boggles with the exceptions under 203 and 205 for SGEs because,
you know, it creates it carves out an exception for SGEs who are serving on advisory committees,
and Dan Fort: 208 too, yeah. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: But then it goes on
to say, but then if you only if you don’t serve more than 60 days, and so so we’ve got
day counting, and then we’ve got day counting on top of day counting, in order to be able
to determine what of these laws apply. So, I’m curious as to who I mean, do you put
that all back on the SGE to keep on top of their day counting, and even if you do that,
like what do you all do to like counsel people so that they understand? I mean, like this
is complex enough for us to get our heads around, like how do you how do you help SGEs
like even know this, or keep track of it for them or Dan Fort: What a great question. And and and
the answer to that question, at least in our case, is we make sure that they actually take
their ethics training, which they’re required to do, and I must say that OGE has excellent,
and brilliantly written, I must say, online ethics training concerning SGEs. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: A little self-promotion
going on here, Dan. Dan Fort: And I’m not saying that just because
I wrote it a few years ago, you know. Well, I think I probably needed to revise it, but
that’s neither here nor there. But yeah, I mean, if you don’t tell them,
they’re not going to know; that’s number one. Number two is, you got to make sure that the
ethics official, in our case, knows that that’s a situation, and then they can talk to the
personnel person, you know, in their shop, and keep track of it. Now, we’re lucky that almost none of our SGEs
serve over 60 days. We love them, but we get rid of them before they hit that 60-day mark.
But but somebody’s got to be minding the shop. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Dan Fort: And you’ve got to make sure who
that is. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Karen, do you
have mechanisms for helping people keep track, or Karen Santoro: Well, our FACA SGEs all work
60 days or less. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Karen Santoro: So, that’s the bulk of our
SGEs, about 16,000 a year. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Wow. Karen Santoro: And the rest of our non-FACA
SGEs, it’s the personnel office that keeps track of their days. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay, okay, very good.
I think that was the only question I had Dan Fort: Oh, okay. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: so you go right ahead. Dan Fort: So, you know, I’m not going to go
into all the standards of of conduct, because we’ll be here all day. So, let me just talk
a little bit about financial disclosure. Now, you all know you’re going to have to
collect these reports, right? And someone’s going to have to review them, just like somebody
reviews the the financial disclosure reports of all the regular government employees, right,
and, I mean, it just has to get done. And both NSF and ourselves, we use our own form,
approved by the Office of Government Ethics, because we we needed more frankly we needed
more information than we were getting out of the 450. And we need information on peoples’
contracts, and their grants, and whether there was any reason they couldn’t serve on a on
a committee. And, you know, and we just needed that information, right? And the fact of the
matter is you’re not going to get that on an OGE 450, so, you know. And and then you’re have to be aware of other
things; if you pay an SGE over $59.02 an hour, and they work more than 60 days in the 365-day
period, guess what? Those lucky people have to fill out the OGE 278e form. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: They become public filers. And and
not only that and believe me, when you tell them that now their financial disclosure forms
are going to be made public just by the filling out of a certain form, see what happens. And
not only that, but now they’re covered by the STOCK Act. That means now they have to
go through everything ever concerning, you know, reporting their stock transactions periodically
on the on the 278t form. They now have to give you notification on negotiation for employment
and all that other good stuff. So, you got to keep track of their days, and
you got to keep track of what you’re paying them as well. So, just because you’re you
have somebody there keeping track of the days, make sure you know how much they’re getting
paid, too. Because that could be a problem, okay? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: So, and people have
to annualize that, right? Whatever they’re being paid per hour, you annualize that to
decide if that’s if they meet the reporting threshold? Dan Fort: That is a good question. We pay
them by the hour, so I think that’s right, it does go by the annual. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: So, the question is and when I I
think, you know tell folks is that, you know, you got to give them training; and the question
is, are you keeping track of the training? Are you making sure to take training on an
annual basis, right? And who is keeping track of the training? Are you keeping track of
the training? Do you have a system for keeping track of the training? Are you relying on
somebody else to keep track of the training? These are questions you’re going to have to
ask yourself. You know, and I guess the takeaway I want
you to take out of this one screen here is, you know, the SGEs are, in fact, covered by,
you know, more or less the same ethics regulations that we are, but but, there are a lot of exceptions
there that’s going to require you, as an ethics official if you’re listening to me, it’s going
to require you to monitor what these SGEs are doing. You can’t just go send them off
and let them set sail, right? You got to know what the heck they’re doing. So, let me talk a little bit about the ethics
issues that you’ll you’ll see on panels, or at least, you know, we see on panels. So,
let’s look at the panel formation process. So, the question is, is who is collecting
this information for you? Are you doing it? Are you relying on your your DFO to do it?
You know, maybe you’re working with the committee management officer, or your management to
to collect that information. But someone’s got to collect that information, and you got
to make sure, if you’re not directly responsible for yourself, who is collecting the information,
right? You’ve got to ask yourself the question, what
are the matters that are going to be considered by the committee? Are they matters, or are
they particular matters? Are they particular matters of general applicability, or are they
going to be particular matters that affect specific parties? Because each and every one
of those determinations is going to tell you how the ethics laws and regs are going to
apply, right? And then once you determine what those ethics issues are, you got to figure
out what kind of remedies are you going to apply? Are you going to make them do this?
You know, remember, they’re SGEs, so they can’t get certificates of divestiture. Are
you going to sort of make them recuse from part of the discussion? Are you going to tell
them sorry, you can’t serve on this committee? I don’t know. Those are things that you have
to figure out before you put them on the darned committee, right? Then during the operation and termination,
you’ve got other questions. You’ve got to vet ethics issues before each new matter,
and for and for post-employment. You know what? If you have a standing committee, I
bet you they’re going to talk about more than one matter, right? They’re going to go listen
yeah they’re going to go do deliberations on one matter. The matter could change. The
committee could reform. They could start talking about another matter, or another particular
matter, and all of a sudden, the SGE, which you thought was fine for one particular matter,
is all of a sudden has a conflict on another particular matter. And unless you know, you
know, and had and either reviewed it yourself or had somebody in your shop do it, review
it, then you don’t know if, you know, somebody’s going to end up with a conflict of interest,
and you don’t want that. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I just want to jump
in here real quick, Dan, and just to sort of put my two cents in, which is to say that
I know that a lot of questions that when I was serving as a desk officer, a lot of the
questions that I got over the years from from small boards and commissions, and from folks
who were dealing with advisory committees on a regular basis, was I think particular
matters of general applicability are sometimes difficult matters to identify. And I and I
would really encourage you, if if you’re uncomfortable with sort of making those determinations,
or you’re not real certain about it, to try to reach out and get some assistance with
those determinations. Because too often, we’ve we had too many folks who thought that unless
they were specific party matters, or things that you could identify as specific party
matters, that 208 wasn’t a problem, and that you really didn’t have that your committees
and your advisory committees didn’t have conflicts, because you didn’t deal with specific party
matters, and that’s just simply not the case. So, I would really encourage you to make sure
if you were if you’re advising advisory committees, or if you’re or if your CMOs (phonetic) are
the ones who are doing it; whoever is doing your conflicts analysis for your advisory
committees, that they really have a really good strong sensibility about what a matter
of general applicability looks like. Dan Fort: And and, by the way, OGE has some
excellent guidance on the website about concerning particular matters, and what they are, and
and how to make that determine with matters that are on applicability, and specific party
matters. So, I encourage everybody to go print it out and keep in a file somewhere near you. And lastly, you know, I wanted to also talk
about communication during charter and membership renewal; because, you know what, your your
your charter can change, your members can change, you could have SGEs on there that
are are, you know, and they have a problem with the new with a new panel. You could have
people who are representatives and now they’re now SGEs, or maybe you need SGEs on your new
committee; you don’t know unless you check. So, how do you avoid some problems? Okay,
well, like I said, my whole presentation here is basically the view from the trenches, so
to speak. You know, I have very rarely seen a disclosure form that didn’t need a follow
up. You know that there’s going to be something on there that either looks funky, or needs
more explanation, or you just you just need to know what’s going on; so, you know, do
your follow up. Don’t forget about the subcommittees. You
know, you could have a charter committee, but now you got all these subcommittees that
have SGEs on it, and you’re figuring oh, well, it’s just a subcommittee, it’s okay, everything’s
going to go ahead and get reviewed by the the committee. Eh, wrong. You you need to
make sure that if you have subcommittees, and there are SGEs, you’re going to have to
collect the financial disclosure forms, you’re going to have to see if there’s a problem
there. You know, it’s not just your charter committee, it’s anybody that’s got their hands,
you know, on this information. Work with your your DFO on the committee charge, okay? Because
once you know what that charge is, you’re going to know, or at least have a better idea,
you know, what are the matters that are going to come up? What kind of particular matters?
You know, is it going to be specific party matters? You got to know when that matter
is going to, well, matter, so to speak. I sort of live by the saying that if it’s
not documented, it didn’t happen, simply because if you don’t write it down, you’re going to
get yourself into this he said/she said sort of situation, and someone’s going to say,
well six months ago you told me it was okay to do X, and you’re going to be like, I didn’t
say that. And oh, yes you did. And I always follow up with a note saying on such and such
a day, we discussed whatever. Remember your remedies, right? Divestiture,
recusal, maybe they don’t serve on the committee; there’s just remember what your remedies are. And lastly what I wanted to say here was expect
the unexpected. What are you going to do if your SGE comes to you, and it’s just before
your public FACA meeting, and tells you that she’s just signed a contract to do some research
with the very specific party that’s directably (phonetic) and predictably effected by the
specific party matter that’s the subject of your meeting? What are you going to do? Are
you going to tell her not to attend? Tell her she can attend part of it? Are you going
to ask her if she’s already participated, in which case you already have a conflict
problem? Are you going to try to get a waiver if there’s no participation? I don’t know.
You know, God forbid this should this should happen to you, but if it does, at least have
in the back of your mind what you’re going to do in case the unexpected happens. Let me just talk a little bit about the major
differences again between SGEs that are, you know, not on FACA panels, and those that are
on FACA panels. And, you know, this just speaks to what I said earlier about the fact that
there’s really two flavors of SGEs; those on FACA committees, and those not on FACA
committees. Just to remind you, if they’re not on a FACA panel, they’re not going to
get the exception for general applicability matters by you know, by reason of their employment. Karen will talk a little bit about the emoluments
clause, and they don’t get the exception there. They don’t get the (b)(3) waivers, because
they’re not working on a FACA committee, and so they’re held to a higher standard. You’re
going to try to get them a waiver for a conflict of interest. And the bottom line is, you know,
they’re usually not there just to give advice to the government, you know, they’re they’re
the worker bees. They’re going to show up every day, you’re going to see them, right,
you know. And the question you have to ask yourself
is, you know, are you dependent on others to collect this information for you? Who’s
minding your ethics store, right? It’s possible you’re going to be relying on other ethics
officials to do their job, so you can do your job. Do you have a decentralized system? How
confident can you be? How much can you trust the ethics officials that you’re relying on?
Are you giving them any specialized training? Are you communicating with them? Those are
the sort of the questions that you just you just need to ask yourself. So, just a little reminder about what to do
before, during or after. You know, before, believe me, it’s better to vet your SGEs before
they show up, because you don’t want to actually hire them and find out they have a conflict
of interest and they can’t participate, because that doesn’t help out anyone. Beware of resurrected employees; those that
were RGEs and suddenly now you’ve shown up as SGEs in a new life, and as SGEs that now
have outside employment, and outside financial interests. And you’re going like what? And
the answer is, yeah, that can actually happen. And just with all due respect to the first
screen that you showed, I’d say SGEs are special, with a big S Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: but they’re not special, with a
small S. You don’t care where they came from, you don’t care who they are, all you know
is they are special government employees now, they get some variation from the ethics laws
and regs by virtue of the fact they’re SGEs, but that’s it. And during the panel, you know, no disclosure,
no excuse, okay, you know? They have to tell you what they’re doing, and they have to give
you a full accounting for what’s going on. If they’re not telling you, or you’re worried
that you’re not getting the full story, ask. Watch the days; because remember, we talked
about earlier the number of days they work makes a difference. And there’s a whole nice
writing from OGE about day counting and what counts as a day. You know, if you work for
just one hour, one hour during a day, that’s considered one full day of work for the purpose
of day counting. Now, that doesn’t it can’t be like ministerial duties; like hey, can
you come to this meeting on Thursday, you know. Okay, that’s not work. But if they’re
doing even if they’re doing any home work for one hour; bam, that counts as an entire
day. Be the reference, because someone’s going
to have to talk to these people, and help them out if they have questions, and, you
know, you’re going to have to be the reference for them. And the more you ask, the more you
know. You you you have to find out what’s going on. Be inquisitive, be nosy; that’s
okay, they understand. And after, you have to remember you know what,
the SGEs still aren’t special. They may be special with an S, but they’re not big S,
capital S, but not special with a small S. They’re just another ex-government employee,
just like everybody else. You got to watch their days and you got to watch the money,
because if they make over $76.71 an hour for this calendar year, and work over 60 days
during the previous 365-day period, guess what? Then they’ve got a cooling-off period,
and they can’t represent back to their agency for a one-year period. So, you never know,
that could be a problem depending on what you’re paying them, and how long they work. And the last piece I put in there was beware,
you might see them again as they transition. You know, God knows what’ll happen in transition.
You might see people who are employees that might show up again sometime in the future
as special government employees, don’t really know yet, but it could happen. And last, but not least, I wanted to give
some sort of parting words of wisdom. This is sort of based on the fact that I’ve been
at EPA for 26 years, and this will probably be the last time I’ll ever get a chance to
do this. So, let this let me give you some parting words of wisdom. You know, I sort of quote Yogi Berra here.
It’s like déjà vu all over again, okay? And the reason I say that is, you know what,
you’re going to see the same problems over and over and over again, with different SGEs,
sometimes with the same SGE. Consider creating some sort of system that’s going to organize
your advice, so you can make sure you give consistent advice over time. The oath of office is more than just pretty
words. I mean because remember, you know, you had to take the oath of office, right?
You know, well, guess what? So did SGEs. And it should be as real for them as it is for
the rest of us. And you know why? Because in the final analysis, public service is a
public trust, right? Where you sit matters, not where you stand.
You know, you’re the ethics official. It doesn’t matter what you think about what a committee
is doing, it doesn’t matter what you think about the person, you know, you are the ethics
official. You’re the one that people are going to be relying on to give the right information,
to give a definitive answer, and to help make sure that the integrity of government operations
are upheld. You got to know who you are. You got to know
what your role is in the organization. You got to know who you’re going to rely on to
perform these ethics duties, and you got to ask yourself the question, how confident are
you in the ability of these people to carry out their duties to help you. How much can
you trust them? And last but not least, I wanted to say you
are never alone. Like I said, after my many years of government experience, I can guarantee
you I’d be happy to plug OGE. They are here to help. They’ve got great information and
great people. You got a problem, they’re a resource, talk to them. You can rely on them. With that, I’ll be quiet. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Well, thank you Dan,
very much. Karen, it’s it’s it’s your turn now, my dear. If oh, Patrick, we have a question? Patrick Shepherd: Yes, actually we do have
a question that’s probably timely here. We have another one that we leave for the end,
but this goes back to the day counting exercise. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Patrick Shepherd: And it’s interesting to
me that the counting of the days seems to be the hardest part here. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Patrick Shepherd: And the question is, there
are some authorities, statutory authorities, including 5 U.S.C. 3109 and 5 C.F.R. 304 that
allows agencies to appoint experts and consultants for terms in excess of 130 days. So, have you dealt with this, and, you know,
how do you characterize them under the SGE rules, if they’re going to be experts and
consultants for more than 130 days? Or maybe you don’t have any. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I mean I I mean I think
that I think that, you know, the definition for SGE is 130 days or less. So, I think by
definition, anybody who is hired for any purposes who is going to exceed 130 days is, by definition,
by statutory definition, not an SGE. I mean a I mean, yeah, I think that one is pretty
straightforward. Patrick Shepherd: Okay, thank you. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Patrick, can you
put us on the Karen Santoro: So, I know we want to leave
time for questions, so I’ll be brief. What are the other ethics rules that we have to
be aware of? I’m going to briefly expand a little bit on some of the topics you heard
Dan talk about. At NSF, as I mentioned, we have an alternative
form for our FACA SGEs. It basically is a certification. It lists affiliations that
may raise potential issues, such as the ones you’re seeing on the slides here. And the
SGE signs it and certifies that they don’t have any of these affiliations. However, even
though they signed this form before the meeting, we make sure they know they have a continuing
obligation during the entire course of the meeting, to disclose anything that might come
up. For example, when they’re looking at a proposal,
maybe deep inside that proposal is a student of theirs, and that’s not apparent on the
cover sheet, or any other place. So they would be obligated to tell us about it. For non-FACA SGEs, they file the usual; 278e
or a 450. We have the ability to exclude filers from the 450 for our non-FACA SGEs. You can
do that if the possibility of a conflict is remote. At NSF we have persons known as senior
science advisors. They don’t have any grant money responsibility, they are there to give
us advice on the direction of research, so they could be excluded under this. Also, if
they have a low level of responsibility, such as they’re inputting data, or they’re using
existing data to prepare reports; that might be circumstances in which they could be excluded
from filing. NSF makes liberal use of OGE’s granting the
ability to use written training instead of in person. You heard our numbers, and so we
do use written training for our FACA SGEs, as well as our non-FACA SGEs. We often have
people in remote locations, as I mentioned Antarctica, and so we use the written training
for them. And Dan mentioned Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: You mean you don’t you
don’t get yourself a trip to Antarctica so you can do it in person? Karen Santoro: That might be in the cards
(phonetic). Dan mentioned several of the topics that are covered, and let me go into the emoluments
clause. So, that basically says if you work for the U.S. Government, you cannot also be
employed by a foreign government. And my understanding is that this clause was enacted in the constitution,
because when Ben Franklin was ambassador to Paris, he came back from a trip to France
with a jewel-encrusted snuffbox, and some people got upset about that and worried about
potential undue influence from foreign governments. Now, this clause is going to implicate a FACA
SGE, for example, who may hold a professorship at MIT, but also has a visiting appointment
at a university in China. It also may impact reviewers from foreign countries who have
appointments with foreign universities that are considered part of the foreign government.
So, there is a series of OLC opinions; most notably, one in March 9, 2005 concerning the
President’s Council on Bioethics, and also a subsequent OLC opinion on June 15, 2007
concerning the FBI that basically states the emoluments clause does not apply if they’re
on a committee, and it’s purely advisory. And so we have relief in that respect. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Can you just briefly
repeat just the references to those, just so that folks on the phone and on the Hangout,
if they want those references, can you just briefly repeat those? Karen Santoro: Certainly. It’s OLC opinion
dated March 9, 2005 and June 15, 2007. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Great. Karen Santoro: A provision enacted by this
administration is for FACA SGEs serving on committees; and that is, they cannot be federally
registered lobbyists. And there are databases you can check for that, but again, given NSF’s
number, we rely on certification. All our FACA SGEs have to register with us, and as
part of that registration, they sign a certification that you see. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: So, this is the that’s
the certification statement? Karen Santoro: Right, mm-hmm. Other lobbying
considerations depend on what hat the SGE is wearing. If they’re appearing before Congress
as a private individual, as the dean of a school, as the president of a scientific society,
they can lobby all they want, provided they’re not on duty and they’re not using United States
Government resources for those purposes. If an SGE is going to represent NSF, NSF has
to authorize them to do that. We want to speak with one voice, and so they would work closely
with our Office of Legislation and Public Affairs, before giving any testimony before
Congress. There’s also something called grass roots
lobbying, and that’s when you encourage others to contact Congress. We had a chair of an
advisory committee who wanted to send a letter to every dean at every university, encouraging
them to call their Congress members Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Oh, boy. Karen Santoro: to increase the NSF budget. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Oh, wow. Karen Santoro: And we had to put the kibosh
on that. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Very nice intentions,
but. Karen Santoro: So, does the Hatch Act apply
to SGEs? It does. Take a look at 5 C.F.R. 734.601, which says, the political activity
for irregular, occasional-basis employees are covered, and that’s an SGE; however, the
application is narrow, and that is, it only applies when they are on duty. So, for example, if one of our proposal-review
panels meets from 8:00 to 3:00, an SGE on that panel could go to a political fundraiser
at 5:00; and in fact, they could solicit fund for whatever candidate the fundraiser was
being held for. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Interesting. Karen Santoro: And by contrast, we’ve got
our non-FACA SGEs, who we treat as less-restricted employees. So, the not in the government building,
not while on duty, not using government resources, applies to them, but also the restrictions
that apply 24/7, we apply to them as well; such as, no fundraising, and the limitations
on running for public office. I wanted to highlight a couple of recent developments.
Keep your eye out for a GAO report on SGE engagement. GAO came to NSF, HHS, DOJ, State
Department and NRC, and their focus was non-FACA SGEs. And the impetus for this was Senator
Grassley looking at the former Secretary of State Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, who is
married to a congressman who likes to take selfies. She was a regular employee at the
State Department. She became an SGE, and as such, she had other employment, which is very,
very typical; however, he has this, like a dog with a bone, and is pursuing it. And so, all these other agencies were asked
questions such as how are SGEs designated? How are they tracked? Who’s responsible for
training? How is financial disclosure monitored? And they also asked us, how many regular employees
turn into SGEs? So, we expect a report on that shortly. And I want to wrap up by calling your attention
to proposed legislation, FACA Amendments – H.R. 2347. It passed the House and is now in a
Senate committee. It has some significant implications. For example, it states that
the DAEO should review FACA committee designations when the charter is written, and any time
the charter is renewed. And it makes certain information publicly available; for example,
the reason why a committee member was selected; recusals, waivers, description of the conflict,
the reasons for granting it, and and the minutes. And so, if if you are not aware of this, I
urge you to contact your committee management office and and get the full extent of this. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Well, why don’t
we open it up for questions? I want to Dennis, I would like to open up the phone now for
questions that anybody has on the phone, and if we have anything on the Hangout, we’re
happy to entertain any questions that you have. Operator: Thank you. At this time, if you’d
like to ask a question, you press Star 1 on the touchpad on your phone. You get asked
to record your name prior to asking your question. Again, that’s Star 1 on the touchpad of your
phone. One moment, please. Patrick Shepherd: And the folks on the Hangout,
if you have a question, you can ask your question by typing in the lower right-hand corner of
your screen. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Well, while we’re waiting,
I one thing I was so first of all, I want to thank you both for coming and re-presenting
what you presented at the at the OGE Summit. One question that I had for both of you was
to what extent do your folks do any sort of pre appointment vetting? Like do you use the
450 at all, or are you aware whether or not any of your committees use the 450 at all
to do any sort of pre-appointment vetting before actually appointing people to the committees? Dan Fort: Well in both of our case, we have
our own financial disclosure form for (indiscernible – 1:14:43). But, yeah, in our case, they collect
the financial disclosure form and vet it even before they’re appointed. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right, right. Dan Fort: So, why bother bringing somebody
on if they’re going to have some sort of fatal conflict? Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Mm-hmm. Dan Fort: I mean there’s just no point. You’ll
be wasting their time and ours. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Right. Do we have any
questions on the phone? Operator: Ma’am, at this time, I show no questions
in the queue. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Patrick, are we Patrick Shepherd: And we don’t have any further
questions on the Hangout. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: Okay. Well, I think
that that that we’ve we’ve obviously answered everybody’s questions, and given them all
the information that they wanted to know. Again, thank you Karen, and thank you Dan,
for being here. Dan Fort: Pleasure. Cheryl Kane-Piasecki: I appreciate it very
much, you sharing your expertise and and your policies and procedures with the community.
And I want to thank you all for having joined us this afternoon. And please tune in next week for the Advanced
Practitioner Series. It will be dealing with FOIA, the Ethics in Government Act and the
Privacy Act. And until next week, thanks and have a great afternoon.

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