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February 7, 2011

DEC/EC Meeting Notes

Monday, February 7, 2011 (11:00 – 12:00) -- Bldg. 31C, Conference Room 10

Introductions:

1. New NEO Specialist Assignments

2. New NEO Staff

Items for Discussion/Presentations:

1. Emoluments Clause and FGDA

  • Emoluments Clause generally prohibits federal employees from accepting an honorarium from a foreign governmental entity which could include a public university. Check to see if University of Victoria decision applies. https://www.justice.gov/olc/opinion/emoluments-clause-and-world-bank.
  • Emoluments Clause states that no compensation or gifts may be accepted without the consent of Congress. Congress consented to federal employees accepting some gifts by enacting the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act (FGDA).
  • FGDA lays out a few exceptions to the Emoluments Clause’s prohibition. One of those exceptions is for gifts (but not compensation) of less than $335.
  • Also consider whether the situation that surrounds the gift is a permissible activity, i.e., was the gift offered because the employee had engaged in a writing activity with a supported research institution.

2. 204(d) and Gifts of Attendance at Awards Ceremony

  • If an award meets the criteria for a bona fide award for meritorious public service or achievement under 204(d)(1), then an employee may accept the gift of attendance at an awards banquet for him and his family under 204(d)(3). NOTE: this is a different standard from 204(g)(1) WAG that only permits employee to accept a gift of free attendance for him/herself and only one other.
  • If additional tickets are offered (more tickets than the employee has family who are attending, for example, 5 tickets are offered, but only 2 family members are attending), the employee may not accept the additional tickets under 204(d)(1) and offer them to friends or colleagues.

3. Pre-clearance Issues

  • New employees who were conducting research at their previous employer(s) may have invented technologies that were patented by the previous employer(s). (For purposes of this discussion, a pending patent application is the same as an issued patent.) The licensing of such technologies may produce royalty income. This actual or potential income stream is a financial interest for the inventor.
  • Consider whether the new employee’s NIH research (or NIH research that falls under his or her supervisory responsibilities) will affect the income stream. That is, will the NIH research render the technology obsolete or enhance it, and thus, affect the royalty payments.
  • Consult with the IC Scientific Director to determine if a 208 issue (the ability to affect the royalty stream through participation in NIH official duties) is present.
  • So, keep up with the status of vacancies, ask to meet with candidates and talk with newly hired employees as soon as possible.

4. Revisions to HHS Supplemental Standard of Conduct Regulations

  • Send suggested changes to 5 CFR Parts 5501 or 5502 to Holli by February 22, 2011.

5. Awards Process

  • See attached awards analysis sheet for guidance when reviewing an award request. All issues should be addressed before the package is sent to NEO for processing. If you have questions about the analysis sheet or an aspect of an award (e.g., whether the associated lecture creates a problem), please call your NEO ethics specialist prior to submitting the package to NEO.

Announcements:

  1. All CY 2009 OGE-278s (filed in 2010) and attachments should have been sent to NEO for forwarding to OGC. If you still haven't sent yours, please make it a priority and send to NEO by the 24th.
  2. OGE-450s due 2/15 unless an extension is granted.
  3. HHS-521s due 2/28. NEES should send a notice to those employees who submitted their HHS-520 requests electronically. An additional reminder would be helpful.

Posted 2/10/11