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(b)(1) The Director of Personnel is responsible for the review of, and determination on, those statements submitted directly to him or her pursuant to $ 0.735-34(b).

(2) Agency Heads will be responsible for annually identifying employees required to file employment and financial statements, for collecting and ini. tially reviewing the statements, for identifying and designating those employment and financial interests that are not in conflict, and for signing and dating the statements.

(c) Agency Heads are responsible for the review of, and determination on, those statements submitted to an Agency official. Original and supplementary statements shall be reviewed and determiniations made within 2 months of receipt of such statements. Disciplinary action will be taken against those who falsely certify that the employment and financial interests statements have been received and reviewed. This responsibility may be delegated, subject to the following restrictions:

(1) Responsibility for review and determination may be delegated only to a responsible Agency official in the national office, who the Agency Head determines has sufficient experience, judgment, and understanding of the conflict-of-interest problem to properly carry out such responsibilities. The initial processing and receiving of the statements can be delegated to the field facilities where the person is employed. If the statement, when received, shows any holding of any sort, it shall be referred for review to the official identified by the Agency Head as having the responsibility, with a statement indicating whether the holding does, does not, or appears to have some relationship to the duties the employee performs.

(2) Responsibility for final determinations in cases involving substantial conflict questions may be delegated only to Associate, Deputy, and Assistant Agency Heads. The Agency Head shall set criteria identifying the types of cases which must be referred to such officials for final determination.

(d) Delegations of review and determination responsibility must be in

writing from the Director of Personnel or the Agency Head, as appropriate.

(e) The Director of Personnel shall issue general guidelines covering the review of statements, recognizing possible conflicts or the appearance thereof, obtaining additional information, resolving conflict situations, documentation, and remedial action. Agencies shall supplement these with more specific guidelines applicable to the particular Agency. A copy of both the general and the specific guidelines shall be furnished to each employee to whom review and determination responsibility has been delegated.

(f) Whenever a qu tion of a conflict or appearance of conflict arises, a written determination must be made. The basis of the determination must also be documented in writing. The employee must be advised in writing of the determination, and, if the determination involves a change in duties or disqualification for a particular assignment, a copy of the determination should be furnished to the employee's immediate supervisor. Where affirmative action by the employee is required, a report of his or her compliance shall be obtained and made a part of the record.

(g) If a determination cannot be made at the Agency level, the case shall be referred to the Director of Personnel. If the Director of Personnel cannot make a determination, he or she shall refer the case to the Department Counselor for his or her determination or referral to the Secretary for determination. The record shall include copies of all pertinent documents and a written statement from each referring official setting forth his or her recommendation as to a final determination and the reasons therefor.

(h) Before a final determination requiring any remedial action is made, the employee concerned shall be given an opportunity to explain the conflict or appearance thereof and to offer any suggestions he or she may wish as to how the matter might be resolved. If an employee feels that the final determination will cause him or her undue hardship, or objects to the decision on other grounds, he or she may request a review and modification by forward

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ing to the Chief, Security and Employee Relations Staff, a written statement setting forth all the facts and circumstances in support of his or her request and any alternative solution which he or she thinks appropriate.

(i) If the final determination requires positive action on the part of the employee, he or she shall take such action as soon as possible and advise the determining official when he or she has done so. Failure to take a required action within a reasonable time may result in disciplinary action.

(j) Where special circumstances exist, the Director of Personnel may grant, in writing, an exception to the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section to allow delegation of review and determination authority to others than national office officials. (43 FR 43431, Sept. 26, 1978, as amended at 46 FR 22559, Apr. 20, 1981; 46 FR 47210, Sept. 25, 1981)

8 0.735-43 Protection of employees' state

ments. (a) The statements of employment and financial interests, and supplements thereto, required by or pursuant to the regulations in this part shall be held in confidence and afforded adequate physical security. No information as to the contents thereof shall be disclosed except to the head of the employing agency and such other persons as may be designated custodians or reviewers of such reports unless specific authorization has been obtained from the Department Counselor. An official, custodian, reviewer, or other employee having possession of a statement of employment and financial interests shall not allow access to, or allow information to be disclosed from, the statement except to carry out the purpose of this Subpart C.

(b) Information from a statement of employment and financial interests shall not be disclosed outside of the Department except as the Civil Seryice Commission or the Secretary of Agriculture may determine for good cause shown.

(c) Reports shall be separately maintained by the officials designate as custodians for such reports and shall not be made a part of the official personnel folders.

$ 0.735-44 Financial disclosure under the

Ethics in Government Act. (a) The following individuals are covered by the financial reporting requirements of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and shall submit a financial disclosure report on Office of Personnel Management Standard Form 278 in accordance with this section:

(1) Members of the Senior Executive Service and other officers or employees in the executive branch, including a special Government employee as defined in 18 U.S.C. 202, whose position is classified at GS-16 or above of the General Schedule prescribed by 5 U.S.C. 5332, or the rate of basic pay for which is fixed at a rate equal to or greater than the minimum rate of basic pay for GS-16;

(2) Employees who are administrative law judges appointed pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 3105;

(3) Employees not described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section who are in a position in the executive branch which is excepted from the competitive service by reason of being of a confidential or policy making nature;

(4) The Designated Agency Ethics Official; and

(5) Employees on detail to a position normally occupied by an individual described in paragraphs (a) (1) through (4) of this section, irrespective of the detailed employee's actual grade level or compensation, if the detail can reasonably be expected to last for more than 60 days in a calendar year.

(b) Financial disclosure reports required under this section shall be submitted to the Designated Agency Ethics Official at USDA (the Director of Personnel) or his or her designee. Reports are due as follows:

(1) Within 30 days of assuming a position or office described in paragraph (a) of this section-unless the employee has already filed a current Standard Form 278 either for a similarly covered position which he or she has left within 30 days of assuming the duties of the new one, or has filed as a nominee for the position assumed;

(2) Within 30 days of termination of employment from a position or office described in paragraph (a) of this section, unless the employee enters a similarly covered position within 30 days of such termination; and

(3) On or before May 15 of each calendar year during the incumbency of an employee in a covered position, when he or she has served more than 60 days in such position during the previous calendar year.

(c) Instructions covering the types of information to be provided on a Standard Form 278 are included with the form. The basic categories of information required are: income from and interests in property; purchases, sales and exchanges; gifts and reimbursements; liabilities; positions held; and relations with other employers.

(d) Financial disclosure reports submitted under the provisions of this section shall be reviewed by the Director of Personnel as the Designated Agency Ethics Official, or by those individuals delegated authority for that purpose as Deputy Ethics Officials (subject to the restrictions of 5 CFR 738.204).

(e) The official responsible for reviewing the disclosure statement shall either approve it, or make an initial determination that a conflict or appearance thereof exists, or may determine that additional information is needed to resolve potential problems. The reporting individual shall be afforded the opportunity for written or oral response to any initial determinations other than approval, and should a final determination of a conflict be made, shall be afforded the opportunity for a personal consultation where practicable. If after these steps have been taken the reviewing official determines that a conflict or appearance of a conflict continues to exist, the reporting individual shall be notified in writing of what steps must be taken to

resolve the problems. Failure to take any required remedial actions will result in appropriate disciplinary action against the individual involved in accordance with the provisions of 5 CFR 734.604(b)(6).

(f) Financial disclosure reports filed under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 shall be made available for public inspection within 15 days of their receipt within the parameters established in 5 CFR 734.603.

(g) The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 provides that the Office of Government Ethics, Office of Personnel Management, shall be responsible for developing rules and regulations affecting financial disclosure procedures under the Act. These regulations are found in 5 CFR Part 734. Employees with questions concerning this section may consult the complete regulations in 5 CFR Part 734, ask their servicing personnel office, or address their inquiries directly to the Designated Agency Ethics Official, Director of Personnel, Room 16-W, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. (5 U.S.C. 301; Title II of Pub. L. 95-521, 92 Stat. 1836, as amended, 5 U.S.C. app.; E.O. 11222 of May 8, 1965, 30 FR 6469, 3 CFR, 1965 Supp.; 5 CFR 734.103) (47 FR 12608, Mar. 24, 1982)

Subpart D-Administrative Enforce

ment of Restriction on Post-Employment Activities

AUTHORITY: 18 U.S.C. 207(j).

SOURCE: 46 FR 47210, Sept. 25, 1981, unless otherwise noted.

8 0.735-51 Purpose.

The purpose of this subpart is to set forth regulations governing administrative enforcement of the prohibitions on post-employment activities contained in 18 U.S.C. 207.

8 0.735-52 Notice of violation.

Whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that a former employee has violated the provisions of 18 U.S.C. 207, an investigation and referral of the matter to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution shall be made in accordance with applicable regulations and Department procedures. A copy of such referral shall be provided to the Office of Government Ethics. Thereafter any action to be taken by the Department shall be coordinated with the Department of Justice unless the Department of Justice declines to prosecute.

and training to conduct the hearing, reach a determination and render an initial decision in an equitable manner.

8 0.735-55 Department representative.

The Director of Personnel shall appoint a Department representative (hereinafter petitioner) to present evidence and otherwise participate in the hearing.

of

8 0.735-53 Initiation administrative

action. Whenever the Director of Personnel has reasonable cause to believe that a former employee of the Department has committed acts which violate 18 U.S.C. 207 (a), (b), or (c) he or she shall initiate administrative action pursuant to this subpart by notifying such employee (hereinafter respondent), in writing that:

(a) Action is being instituted against him or her pursuant to this subpart as a result of allegations of a violation or violations of 18 U.S.C. 207. The respondent shall be informed of the allegations and the basis for them in sufficient detail to prepare an adequate defense;

(b) He or she may request a hearing in writing within 15 working days by addressing the request to the Director of Personnel of the Department;

(c) In the absence of such a request, the Director of Personnel shall decide the matter on its merits based upon the evidence gathered to date; and

(d) The respondent may elect to supply a written rebuttal to the allegations in lieu of requesting a hearing. Such material shall be incorporated in the record and reviewed by the Director of Personnel prior to reaching a determination on the matter.

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8 0.735-54 Hearing officer.

If the respondent, after receiving notice of action under this subpart, requests a hearing, the Secretary shall appoint a hearing officer for the matter. The hearing officer shall be an individual who has not been involved in any of the events specified in the allegations and who did not participate in the investigation of the al. legations, or the decision to institute the proceeding, or the referral of the matter, if any, to the Department of Justice. The hearing officer shall be an individual with suitable experience

8 0.735-60 Transcript.

The hearing officer shall cause a transcript to be made of the hearing and a copy of it shall be made available to petitioner and to respondent.

8 0.735-61 Briefs and discovery.

There shall be no discovery prior to the hearing, nor shall any briefs be submitted, absent specific request of the hearing officer. 80.735-62 Open hearing.

All hearings shall be open to the public unless closed for good cause by the hearing officer. Such a finding shall be made a part of the record by the hearing officer.

8 0.735-68 Final decision.

The Assistant Secretary for Administration shall accept or reject the findings and conclusions of the hearing officer. This decison shall be based solely upon the record of the proceeding and the letters of the parties commenting on the initial decision. Neither party shall make any ex-parte communication to the Assistant Secretary for Administration concerning the merits of the appeal prior to issuance of his or her final decision.

8 0.735-63 Ex-parte communications.

Neither petitioner or respondent, nor any representative thereof, shall make any ex-parte communications to the hearing officer concerning merits of the allegations against respondent prior to the issuance of his or her ini. tial decision.

80.735-64 Administrative record.

The record of any proceeding shall consist of the statement of allegations conveyed to respondent, the transcript of the testimony at the hearing, the documents and other evidence produced and made a part of the record at the hearing, all pleadings and the initial decision of the hearing officer.

8 0.735-69 Sanctions.

In event of a finding, not overturned on appeal, of a violation of 18 U.S.C. 207, the Assistant Secretary for Administration may:

(a) Prohibit the respondent from making, on behalf of any other person (except the United States) any formal or informal appearance before, or, with the intent to influence, any oral or written communication to the Department on any matter of business for a period not to exceed five years, which may be accomplished by directing Department employees to refuse to participate in any such appearances or to accept any such communications; and

(b) Take other appropriate disciplinary action. 8 0.735-70 Finality.

There shall be no appeal within the Department from the decisions of the Assistant Secretary for Administration made pursuant to this subpart.

8 0.735-65 Burden of proof.

The petitioner shall have the burden of proof in this proceeding and must establish a violation by substantial evidence.

8 0.735-66 Initial decision.

Within 30 days of the termination of the hearing, the hearing officer shall issue an initial decision on the matter. In his or her initial decision, he or she shall set forth all findings of fact and conclusions of law relevant to the matters at issue.

PART 1- ADMINISTRATIVE

REGULATIONS

Subpart A-Official Records

the

8 0.735-67 Appeal.

Within 15 days of the date of receipt of the initial decision either party may appeal the initial decision or any portion thereof to the Assistant Secretary for Administration, in writing, pointing to errors in the findings of fact or conclusions of law contained in the ini. tial decision. The opposing party shall have ten days after receipt of a copy of the appeal to reply.

Sec. 1.1 Purpose and scope. 1.2 Policy. 1.3 Agency implementing regulations. 1.4 Implementing regulations for

Office of the Secretary. 1.5 Public access to certain materials. 1.6 Requests for records. 1.7 Aggregating requests. 1.8 Agency response to requests

records. 1.9 Search services.

for

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