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October 23, 2003DO-03-021
Designated Agency Ethics Officials
Jack CovaleskiDeputy Director for Education
Financial Disclosure Reporting Requirements for Special Government Employees
For those special Government employees (SGE) with fixed schedules (i.e., the number of workdays each year are generally known by the agency), who also meet the public reporting pay criteria, the financial disclosure reporting requirements are straightforward. For those SGEs, however, who shift during their term of office from working less than 61 days to working more than 60 days in any calendar year, the filing requirements become much more complicated. The purpose of this memo is to set forth guidance to agencies that have SGEs. This memo explains the filing criteria and uses scenarios to further illustrate how the criteria should be implemented. This memo also provides a recommended approach for avoiding administrative burdens and eliminating the possibility of an SGE public filer filing both types of financial disclosure reports in a 12-month period.
Definition of an SGE
An SGE is someone who provides a temporary service to the Federal Government with or without compensation for not more than 130 days during a consecutive 365-day period. The individual can be brought on board through retention, designation or appointment and can fulfill his temporary duties either full-time or intermittently (i.e., he can work every day for 130 days or work one day a week for 52 weeks).1
Filing Criteria and Requirements
As a general rule, all SGEs file either a public (SF 278) or confidential (OGE Form 450) financial disclosure report.
Public Financial Disclosure Report
Public Financial Disclosure Report
An SGE is defined as a public filer if he is expected to perform the duties of the office for more than 60 days in a calendar year and he meets the pay conditions for public filing. When those two criteria are met, the SGE will comply with the filing requirements levied on non-SGE employees, i.e., he will file a new entrant report within 30 days of taking office, an annual report on the following May 15 and a termination report on or before 30 days after terminating public service. An SGE who files an SF 278 during a year is not required to subsequently file a new entrant OGE Form 450 during that same year.2 Additionally, an SGE nominated for a PAS position, even if he is not expected to meet the workday filing criteria, may be required by the Senate confirmation committee to file an initial nonpublic nominee SF 278 report, which is treated as a new entrant report. This report becomes publicly available only after it becomes known that the SGE has worked more than 60 days in the calendar year.
If an SGE meets the pay threshold but the agency is uncertain about his expected number of workdays, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) recommends that agencies request the SGE file a modified new entrant SF 278. This modified SF 278 differs from the typical new entrant report in that the filer would only list on Schedule A the assets held that meet either the income or asset value reporting requirements; the filer would not include information about asset and income values. Also, the filer would only report the general description of any liabilities held on Schedule C, Part I. The modified report would be treated as confidential until the SGE exceeds 60 workdays in the calendar year. At that point, the SGE would be required within 15 days after the 60th workday to update the modified new entrant report, reflecting any change in finances and adding the asset and income values for all items on Schedule A, in addition to the liabilities values and terms on Schedule C, Part I. Once the report has been updated, it becomes public.
This recommended approach should save the filer time and possible frustration of filing two different reports in a calendar year. However, agencies cannot require filers to follow this recommended approach. If an agency chooses not to implement this recommendation or a filer opts out of filing a modified new entrant SF 278, then the SGE would initially file a new entrant OGE Form 450. The SGE would also file a new entrant SF 278 once he has exceeded 60 workdays during the calendar year.
Confidential Financial Disclosure Report
Confidential Financial Disclosure Report
An SGE, including one serving on an advisory committee, is normally a confidential filer if he is not a public filer.3 As such, an SGE will file a new entrant OGE Form 450 no later than 30 days after assuming the new position or office. However, any SGE that serves on an advisory committee must file his report prior to rendering any advice, or no later than the first committee meeting. An SGE confidential filer is never required to file an annual OGE Form 450. Instead, the SGE confidential filer will file a new entrant report either upon his reappointment or redesignation as an SGE or upon the anniversary of his initial appointment. To avoid the administrative burden of managing these potentially numerous due dates, OGE recommends that agencies use May 15 for their SGE report filing anniversary date. Choosing this date gives confidential OGE Form 450 filers the same reporting deadline as public SF 278 SGE filers. It also places all SGE reporting deadlines on the same date as all non-SGE annual public report filers. If an agency chooses not to implement this recommendation, then it will collect new entrant OGE Form 450s from its SGEs on the variously occurring anniversary/reappointment dates.
SGE Filing Scenarios
The following scenarios describe the filing requirements and process for SGE confidential and public filers using both the current statutory and regulatory filing requirements and, if applicable, OGE's recommended approach of collecting modified confidential new entrant SF 278s along with using May 15 as the SGE's reestablished anniversary reporting date.
An SGE who meets the pay threshold for a public filer generally is required to file either a confidential or public financial disclosure report and may even be subject to multiple filing requirements during a calendar year. SGEs who work more than 60 days will file new entrant public reports and may also file annual and termination SF 278s. SGEs may also have to file new entrant confidential financial disclosure reports on the anniversary date of their appointment or designation if they do not work more than 60 days in the previous calendar year. To avoid the administrative burden of managing the dual reporting cycles for SGEs and to eliminate the possibility of an SGE public filer filing both types of financial disclosure reports in a 12-month period, OGE recommends that agencies ask all SGEs to voluntarily file, in lieu of the OGE Form 450, a modified new entrant SF 278, which would be updated and values added if the SGE works more than 60 days in the calendar year. Also, agencies should consider requiring all SGEs to use May 15 for their SGE report filing anniversary date.4
If you have any questions or comments please contact Tom Zorn, Deputy Associate Director for Financial Disclosure, Program Services Division at 202-482-9287. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 A full discussion of what constitutes an SGE can be found in DAEOgram DO-00-003, dated February 15, 2000, "Summary of Ethical Requirements Applicable to Special Government Employees."
2 See 5 C.F.R. §§ 2634.904(b) and 2634.903(a).
4 OGE permits agencies to specify a date each year to collect subsequent new entrant reports in DAEOgram DO-95-019, dated April 11, 1995.