Federal Manager's Daily Report

The Defense Department’s central ethics office has issued guidance on changes to ethics policies applying to DoD employees enacted in the recent defense authorization measure, policies that in general expand the situations in which certain employees must recuse themselves from involvement in decision-making.

Section 1117 of that law “prohibits DoD personnel from participating personally and substantially in a particular matter involving specific parties where any of the following organizations is a party or represents a party to the matter: (1) any organization, including a trade organization, for which the DoD officer or employee has served as an employee, officer, director, trustee, or general partner in the past two years; and (2) any organization with which the DoD officer or employee is seeking employment,” says a notice from the Standards of Conduct Office.

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“Section 1117 allows an agency designee to authorize an officer or employee to participate in such a matter based on a determination, made in light of all relevant circumstances, that the interest of the government in the officer or employee’s participation outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the agency’s programs and operations. As used in Section 1117, the term DoD “officer or employee” should be interpreted to include all DoD civilian and military personnel,” it says.

Recusals and authorizations need not be put in writing but it is a “best practice” to do so, it says.

The law further created new DoD-only requirements for employees to recuse themselves if they are seeking outside employment with employers meeting certain standards, and for those employed by DoD after leaving certain private sector jobs.

Training and materials provided to employees should be updated to reflect the new policies, the guidance added.

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