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OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
ETHICS AND FRAUD POLICY
Updated: September 2, 2008
This policy does not supersede any state law regulating the ethical conduct of state employees. While this policy provides general guidelines for Office of the Governor (OOG) employees in regard to ethical questions, it is not legal advice. All OOG employees should ask their supervisor or OOO-'s ethics advisor for guidancewhen specific ethical issues arise.
An employee violating any provision of this policy may be subject to discipline, including termination.
I. Standards of Performance and Professionalism
A. Employees shall always treat members of the public and fellow.employees with dignity and respect.
B. Employees shall avoid any action that may give the appearance of using their positions as public servants to seek private gain.
C. Employees shall avoid any action that may adversely affect the public's confidence in government.
D. Employees shall not use or possess illegal or dangerous drugs.
E. Employees shall not use alcoholic beverages while on duty, or while off duty when return to duty is imminent (e.g., during a meal break when return to work is planned).
F. Employees shall not report to work or operate a state vehicle when evidence of the use of alcohol may be detected.
G. Employees shall only. use state equipment for state purposes and shall follow state regulations and procedures regarding the maintenance and use of state property.
H. Employees may make incidental personal use of state-owned telephones for local
- -calls- - - -- - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - -- - - - - ---
I. Employees shall charge their personal calling cards or home numbers for the cost of
making personal long-distance calls. .
J. Employees shall promptly reimburse the state for personal long distance calls made on a work telephone.
K. Employees! excessive use of work telephones for personal matters may be subject to discipline, including termination.
1. Employees shall not gamble on state property.
M. Employees shall not give false statements or information to fellow employees or to the public.
N. Employees shall submit truthful and complete reports. Employees reporting false information are subject to severe discipline, including termination.
O. Employees shall not remove, conceal, or falsify governmental records. Destruction of governmental records is only permitted under OOG's records retention schedule.
P. Employees shall not use a state-issued credit card for expenses which are clearly personal in nature and not related to state business.
Q. Employees may charge expenses on a state-issued credit card for expenses related to state business (e.g., hotel costs in excess of per diem, toiletries, tips), but may not seek reimbursement from the state for those expenses.
R. Employees may use frequent flyer miles accrued on state business for personal travel.
II. 01!.Jside Employment and Board Membershiu
OOG Employees are free to engage in outside employment or other business and civic activities that do not conflict with state employment.
A. Employees currently involved in outside employment or who serve on a board should complete an Outside Employment Form and send it to Human Resources for approvaL
B. Incoming employees must disclose all outside employment and board memberships before employment.
C. Employees must obtain written approval from their supervisors and executive staff before accepting outside employment.
D. Employees must obtain written approval from their supervisors and executive staff before participating in an outside financial activity which may conflict with state employment.
E. Employees shall not have any interest or engage in any financial activity or employment that conflicts, or appears to conflict, with the performance of their state duties.
F. Employees shall not accept any employment or compensation that could influence their judgment or hinder their independence of judgment in the performance of their state duties.
G. Employees shall not be involved in outside employment or financial interests with employees under their supervision.
H. Employees shall not accept other employment or engage in financial or professional activities that could cause them to reveal confidential OOG information.
1. Employees shall not make personal investments that create conflicts between their personal interests and the public interest.
J. Employees shall not accept any board membership for a for-profit, charitable, or nonprofit organization which conflicts or appears to conflict with the performance of their state duties.
K. In order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, employees may not serve as an officer or board member of a for-profit, charitable, or nonprofit organization that receives state funds through the Office of the Governor, without the prior written approval of the Chief of Staff
Click here for a copy of the Outside Employment/Board Membership Form ..
IH. Ac~t!nce.QfBenefits_, Gifts, and Favors
WARNING: If any gift or benefit is offered or accepted in exchange for an employee's official action, it may be considered a bribe, which is a criminal offense.
A. Prohibited Conduct
1. Employees shall not solicit or accept any benefit, gift, favor, or service that might influence them in the performance oftheir duties.
2. Employees shall not solicit or accept any benefit, gift, favor, or service that they know is being offered with the purpose of attempting to influence their official conduct.
3. Employees shall not solicit or accept any benefit, gift, favor, or service for having performed their official duties.
4. Employees shall not solicit or accept any benefit, gift, favor, or service from a person who seeks business from or has a financial relationship with OOG.
5. Employees shall not solicit or accept any benefit, gift, favor, or service from a person
seeking employment with OOG. '
B. Permissible Gifts
Each of the following exceptions is subject to the preceding prohibitions. The prohibited conduct always supersedes any exception.
1. Employees may accept a gift or benefit from a family member.
2. Employees may accept a gift or benefit from a person who is the employee's personal friend.
3. Employees may accept a gift or benefitfrom a professional or business relationship, independent of the official status of the recipient as a public servant so long as it is not intended to influence the employee's official actions.
4. Employees may accept items under $50 in value (e.g., mugs, tee shirts, and caps).
5. Employees may accept small amounts of perishable foods or plants delivered infrequently by a donor.
6. Employees shall not accept any gifts or benefits from a lobbyist which are $50 or more in value.
7. Employees may accept food or refreshments from a lobbyist in a legislative reception.
8. Employees shall not solicit gifts or benefits from lobbyists. Employees who frequently accept benefits from lobbyists, contrary to these guidelines, may be subject to discipline.
IV. Electronic Systems and Internet Policy
A. New employees will be provided with a network and an e-mail ID. Employees must log off the network when they leave for the day. For security purposes, it is strongly recommended that employees lock their workstation when away from their computers for an extended time.
B. The Computer Services Division (CSD) shall install all software. Only approved software licensed to OOG will be installed by CSD. Computer games, uploading or downloading games, copyrighted material, inappropriate graphics or picture files, or illegal or unlicensed software from the Intemet are prohibited.
C .. Access to e-mail is for state-business.-The office e-mail system isthe sole property of OOG and the State of Texas. Access may be revoked at any time for misuse and may result in appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination. Incidental personal use of the e-mail system is. authorized. Personal e-mails should never express official OOG policy or positions.
D. All computers, software, and access to the Internet are for state business. Employees who are granted Internet access must use it responsibly. Use of the Internet to access sites of a sexual nature, or which promote hatred, harassment, discrimination, or illegal activity is prohibited. The Internet is not a secure network; employees should assume that their Internet use is public. Employee Internet use is logged by the OOG's server.
A. Employees, while on state time, are not permitted to solicit others for an outside business that results in personal gain.
B. In common areas, employees may passively solicit for nonprofits or charities from which employees receive no personal profit. It must not be disruptive or done while on state time.
VI. Political Activi!Y
A. No employee shall engage in political activity, including attending campaign events, while on state duty. If employees want to participate in a political activity during working hours, they must request and be approved for annual leave by their supervisor. Employees shall not use state property for political activities. No political activity may take place on state property.
B. Employees shall not wear political advertising when physically present in OOG offices or while working as a state employee.
C. Employees shall not display political advertising in their offices which supports or opposes any federal, state, or local candidate or measure .
. F. Employees, in exercising their political rights, must avoid any appearance that their political activities represent 000.
G. Employees shall not use any state funds to influence the outcome of any election or legislation. Testimony or registration in support of or in opposition to legislation before
legislative committees must be done on an employee's own time.
VII. Political Contributions
A. Employees are free to make political contributions to any candidate or political - . ~ ~ - - .. - - committee andshould.be.aware offederal and.state laws.governing the amountand timing of political contributions.
B. Employees may not solicit political contributions from other employees.
C. Governor Rick Perry will not accept monetary political contributions from OOG employees or their spouses.
VIII. Post Employment ("Revolving Door"_)
A. After leaving OOG, senior staff employees are prohibited from lobbying OOG on any matter for a period oftime that shall include a full regular session of the legislature, but not less than one calendar year. Each senior staff employee must sign a written acknowledgment of this policy.
B. After leaving OOG, all other staff employees are prohibited from lobbying OOG on any specific dispute, contract, lawsuit, or application they directly handled, supervised or managed, or gave substantial input, advice or recommendation while employed in OOG for a period of time that shall include a full regular session of the legislature, but not less than one calendar year. Each employee will sign a written acknowledgment ofthis policy.
C. Senior staff employees are eligible for employment with OOG as long as their spouse is not a person required to register as cit lobbyist with the Ethics Commission. All other staff employees are required to notify the General Counsel in writing if their spouse intends to register, or is registered, as a lobbyist with the Ethics Commission. Such employees shall not participate in any decision or matter within OOG in which their spouse has a pecuniary interest.
IX. Crimina_l Background ChecIifu.,Arrests, and Convictions
OOG reserves the right to conduct post-employment background checks as necessary as a condition of employment. Employees are strongly encouraged to immediately inform their supervisors of any arrest, indictment, or criminal conviction, excluding minor traffic offenses.
X. Drug Free Workplace
A. ' OOG promotes a drug free workplace. The illegal use, manufacture, distribution, sale or possession of narcotics, drugs, drug paraphernalia, inhalants, or controlled substances while on the job is prohibited. The abuse of alcohol or use of illegal drugs off duty is not acceptable and may result in termination.
B. An employee, who reasonably suspects a fellow employee of violating this policy should tell his supervisor or the Human Resources Director. Supervisors who reasonably suspect an employee of violating this policy must immediately report it to their office director and the Human Resources Director. The Human Resources Director shall
- -pnwide direction ill complying-with-disciplinaryprocedures. _
C. An employee who violates this policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Employees who have an alcohol or drug offense must report it to their office director or Human Resources Director within three days. Failure to report could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
XI. Renorti:Qg Inappropriate Conduct
An employee with a complaint should first present the complaint to the employee's supervisor. If the complaint involves the employee's immediate supervisor, or the issue cannot be resolved by the supervisor, the employee may present the complaint to the employee's office director:
XII. Whistleblower Policy
A. The law known as the Whistleblower Act prohibits retaliation against employees who report official wrongdoing. The Act states that a state or local government entity may not suspend or terminate the employment of, or take adverse personnel action against an employee who in good faith reports a violation of law by the employing governmental entity or another public employee to an appropriate law enforcement authority.
B. OOG may not suspend, separate, or take adverse action against an employee because the employee in good faith reports a violation of the law by an agency or another public employee.
C. The whistleblower is not responsible for investigating the alleged violation.
XIII. Policy on Investigating Fraud and Illegal Activity
OOG employe.es must behave ethically and openly communicate their expectations for ethical behavior to others. Preventing fraud requires all employees to strive to create a workplace that promotes ethical behavior, deters wrongdoing, and encourages all employees, our contractors, and other associates to report any known or suspected wrongdoing.
Employees must exercise sound judgment to avoid baseless allegations. An employee who intentionally or knowingly files a false report of wrongdoing will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
B. Internal Team
OOG has established a team that will ensure the anti-fraud program is implemented and modified. The team consists of:
o Deputy Chief of Staff (fraud prevention coordinator) e General Counsel (team chairman)
o Director of the Criminal Justice Division .0 OOG Ethics Advisor
r;) Chief Financial Officer
~ Director of Information Technology
o Director of Internal Audit (advisor and facilitator)
The deputy chief of staff is responsible for: directing program changes and the development and maintenance of the program; acting on the internal team's proposed changes to existing rules, policies, organization structure, and statutes to better prevent and detect fraud and other risks; and reporting to the chief of staff any recommended changes to statutes.
The internal team is responsible for: developing, tracking, and communicating project plans and status to ensure successful completion of the program and communicating; and reporting to the deputy chief of staff
Division directors, deputy division directors, and employees are responsible for implementing and maintaining the program. Responsibilities include performing a risk assessment (in coordination with the internal auditor's annual risk assessment) with the internal auditor in even-numbered years beginning in January and ending in June.
The internal auditor is responsible for providing expertise, knowledge, and objective input.
C. Policy for Dealing with and Detecting and RepOlting Fraud
OOG has a responsibility to prevent and eliminate fraud. All employees have a responsibility to report fraud; OOG contractors have a fiduciary responsibility to prevent, detect, and report fraud. An investigation of suspected fraud or illegal activity is not to be interpreted as an accusation or a conclusion of guilt or innocence of any individual.
Listed below is OOG's policy for detecting and reporting known or suspected fraud:
1. Suspected fraud or illegal activity may be reported verbally or in writing, and may be reported to the fraud prevention coordinator or the ethics advisor. Please provide specific and detailed information.
2. Employees may remain anonymous.
3. Employees may anonymously report fraud in writing in a sealed envelope deposited in the fraud, waste, and abuse reporting box or by sending to the ethics advisor in a sealed envelope labeled as: "To be opened by the ethic advisor only", or "This envelope is being submitted pursuant to the
--------whistlebloweLpolic)' adopted by_ODG." _
4. The fraud prevention coordinator will decide if an investigation is warranted.
5. After determining to proceed with an investigation, the fraud prevention coordinator will tell the internal auditor of all facts regarding the reported fraud or illegal activity.
6. In conducting any investigation, OOG will seek to protect the confidentiality and. anonymity of the complainant to the extent possible by law.
7. The internal auditor shall investigate the matter in accordance with policies and procedures.
8. The internal auditor will consult the ethics advisor as necessary.
9. Upon completion of the investigation, the internal auditor will prepare a report for the team chairman and the fraud prevention coordinator.
10. If the team chairman or fraud prevention coordinator determines that the findings warrant referral to outside law enforcement or prosecutors, or that money received by OOG may have been lost, misappropriated, or misused, or that other fraudulent or unlawful conduct has occurred, then the team chairman will contact the appropriate state agency.
By signing below I acknowledge that I have read and understood OOG's Ethics and Fraud policy and agree to fully comply. I also acknowledge that any violation of the policy may subject me to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
Signature of Employee and Date
Printed Name of Employee
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