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DODReads Ethics Note

BLUF: DOD Reads operates in accordance with Federal, DOD and USN Ethical guidance. We have been through a Navy JAG review and we are happy to provide JAG points of contact upon request.  Below are the primary ethical issues that a company operated by a military service member could face and how DOD Reads is operating properly IAW ethics guidance.

Ethics References:

5 C.F.R. 3601.106

VCNO Principles of Ethical Conduct

Joint Ethics Regulations

Prohibition against solicitation

Reference:    5 C.F.R. 3601.106  

 “CFR 3601.1006 “DOD employees shall not knowingly solicit or make solicited sales to DOD personnel who are junior in rank, grade or position or to the family members on or off duty.

Discussion:

DODReads does not currently conduct any solicitation. Our only advertising is through internet/social media where we write high quality content on topics such as professional development, lifelong learning and philosophy and military leadership.  Linked to those articles are the products that DOD Reads sells.  There is no direct solicitation.

 

Prohibition against Appearances of Violation, Using Public office for Private Gain and Conflict of interest.

Reference: VCNO Principles of Ethical Conduct

Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part. Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.”

“Employees shall not use public office for private gain.”

“Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.”

Discussion:

DOD Reads follows the guidance and principles set forth in the VCNO Annual Standards of Conduct.  We do not hire any active duty military employees.  In addition our website and operations have been through a JAG review to insure compliance with the above.

 

Requirement for a Disclaimer

Reference CFR 5 3601.108 & Joint Ethics Regulations

A DoD employee who uses or permits the use of his military grade or who includes or permits the inclusion of his title or position as one of several biographical details given to identify himself in connection with teaching, speaking or writing, in accordance with 5 C.F.R. 2635.807(b) (Reference (a)) in subsection 2-100 of this Regulation, shall make a disclaimer if the subject of the teaching, speaking or writing deals in significant part with any ongoing or announced policy, program or operation of the DoD employee’s Agency, as defined in section 3601.102, subsection 2-201 of this Regulation, above, and the DoD employee has not been authorized by appropriate Agency authority to present that material as the Agency’s position.

The disclaimer shall be made as follows:

  1. The required disclaimer shall expressly state that the views presented are those of the speaker or author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components;
  2. Where a disclaimer is required for an article, book or other writing, the disclaimer shall be printed in a reasonably prominent position in the writing itself;

 

Discussion:

DOD Reads does not contain any reference to the owners military grade, title or position. However, the disclaimer on the bottom of the webpage has been through JAG review.

 

Prohibition Against Outside Employment for those (General Rule)

Reference: Joint Ethics Regulation JER5500.07R

2-303. Outside Employment and Activity. In addition to subsection 2-206 of this Regulation, above, except to the extent that when procedures have been established by higher authority for any class of DoD employee (e.g., DoD Directive 6025. 713-R, section 4.7, Off-Duty Employment by DoD Healthcare Practitioners (Reference (p))), Agency Designees may require DoD employees under their jurisdiction to report any outside employment or activity prior to engaging in the employment or activity. See subsection 3-306304 of this Regulation, below.

  1. The commander, head of the organization, or supervisor may prohibit the employment or

activity if he believes that the proposed outside activity will detract from readiness or pose a security risk.

  1. If action is not taken to prohibit the employment or activity, the DoD employee is free to

engage in the employment or activity in keeping with other restrictions of this Regulation.

Discussion: Outside employment is generally permissible with chain of command approval. The owner of DOD Reads has notified his Chain of command that he is “self employed”

 

Prohibition Against Outside Employment for those that file a OGE 278

Reference: CFR 5 Vol3 sec3601-107

OGE 450

8-400. Annual Certification. DoD employees who file the Public Financial Disclosure Report (SFOGE Form 278) shall certify annually that they are aware of the disqualification and employment restrictions of 18 U.S.C. 207 and 208, and 41 U.S.C. 423 2103-2107 (References (b) and (c)), and that they have not violated those restrictions.

SECTION 5. DoD GUIDANCE

8-500. Appearances. DoD employees shall:

  1. Ensure that the prospect of employment does not affect the performance or non-performance of their official duties;
  2. Ensure that they do not communicate inside information to a prospective employer; and
  3. Avoid any activity that would affect the public’s confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, even if it is not an actual violation of the law.

8-501. Written Guidance. DoD employees may obtain counseling and written advice concerning restrictions on seeking other employment from their Ethics Counselor:

  1. Although the counseling and advice are given by DoD attorneys and involve the

interpretation of law and regulation and rendering of legal opinion, no attorney-client or other confidential relationship is created. Communications made to an Ethics Counselor in seeking such advice are not privileged.

  1. This counseling and advice is personal to the current or former DoD employee. It does not extend to the individual’s business, employer, or prospective employer.

Discussion: This does not apply to DOD Reads as the owner is not required to file a Public Financial Disclosure Report (OGE 278). However, DOD Reads has gone through an ethics review.

 

Prohibition against Military Members to Accepting Gifts from Outside Sources

Reference

Gift. Gift shall have the meaning set forth at 5 C.F.R. 2635.203(b), (Reference (h)).

5 CFR 3601.103

JER 5500.07R – Joint Ethics Regulation

Vice CNO Standards of Conduct

The basic rule: An employee shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, a gift from a prohibited source or given because of the employee’s official position.  Prohibited source: Any person or entity that: is seeking official action by the employee’s agency; does or seeks to do business with the employee’s agency; is regulated by the employee’s agency; has interests that may be substantially affected by the employee’s official duties; or is an organization a majority of whose members fit into one or more of these categories. Employees of a prohibited source are prohibited sources.

 Gifts of $20 or less: Unsolicited gifts (NOT cash) with a market value of $20 or less per source and per occasion are permissible so long as the total value of all gifts received from a single source during a calendar year does not exceed $50. Gifts received from a single source include not only gifts directly from an entity, such as a contractor, but gifts from any officer, employee or agent of the entity.

 

Discussion: DODReads does provide inexpensive books, generally $5.00-15.00 to select military personnel. This is done with the intention of advertising our services and with the hope of further business.  While DOD Reads would be classified as a “prohibited source” due to the low dollar value (under $20) gifts of books are permissible.

References:

Ethics Desk Book http://www.jag.navy.mil/distrib/instructions/2015EthicsCounselorsDeskbook.pdf

5 CFR 3601.106 – https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/CFR-2002-title5-vol3/CFR-2002-title5-vol3-sec3601-106

Joint Ethics Regulation – http://www.jag.navy.mil/distrib/instructions/JER5500.07R.pdf

JAG  Website – http://www.jag.navy.mil/distrib/CLAMO.html

Note As you can see military ethics regulations can be complex. If you feel we missed anything please contact us below and we will review.

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