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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

370.733.1 - Political Activity


OPR: Admin/Office of Personnel

1. Coverage. The restrictions on political activity apply to all employees, whether in the competitive or excepted service; on permanent or temporary appointments; on full-time, part-time, or intermittent work schedules; or on active duty, leave with or without pay, or furlough. The restrictions apply to intermittent employees during the entire 24-hour day on which they work but do not apply on days when intermittent employees do not work.

2. Political Activity Restrictions.

A. Activity by Indirection. Any political activity that employees may not do directly or personally may not be done indirectly or through an agent chosen by them or subject to their control.

B. Conventions.

(1) Attendance as a spectator is permitted, but the employee may not take any part in the convention or in the deliberations or proceedings of any of its committees.

(2) Candidacy for or service as delegate, alternate, or proxy in any political convention, or service as an officer or employee thereof is prohibited.

C. Primaries - Caucuses.

(1) Employees may attend primary meetings, mass conventions, and caucuses, and may cast votes on any question presented, but they may not participate further in any deliberations.

(2) Employees may not act as officers of the meeting, convention, or caucus; may not address, make motions, prepare or assist in preparing resolutions; may not represent others; and may not take any prominent part in these activities.

D. Meetings and Rallies. Employees may attend political meetings or rallies but they may not assist in preparing for, organizing or conducting meetings or rallies. They may not address such meetings on any partisan political matter or take any active part in them.

E. Committees.

(1) Employees may attend any meetings of political committees to which the general public is admitted but must refrain from political activity.

(2) The holding of the office of precinct committee person, ward committee person, etc., or service on or for any committee of a political party or organization is prohibited.

F. Political Clubs and Organizations.

(1) Employees may be members of political clubs.

(2) Employees may not be active in organizing such clubs or be officers of the clubs or members or officers of any club committees; may not act as such; may not address political clubs on any partisan political matter; may not represent other members; and may not attempt by any actions or statements to influence other members.

G. Civic Organizations and Citizens' Associations. Activity in organizations whose primary objective is the promotion of good government or the local civic welfare is not prohibited, provided such activity has no connection with the campaigns of partisan candidates or parties.

H. Contributions.

(1) Employees may make voluntary contributions to regularly constituted political organizations for general expenditures, provided the contributions are not made in Federal building or to another Federal employee.

(2) The Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1979 prohibit, under threat of criminal penalty, Federal employees from contributing to a person if the person receiving the contribution is the employer or employing authority of the contributor, including contributions to the campaign fund of an incumbent President who is campaigning for reelection.

(3) Employees may not solicit, collect, receive, disburse, or account for assessments, contributions, or other funds for a partisan political purpose.

(4) Federal officials may not furnish the names and addresses of Federal employees for the purpose of political solicitation.

I. Expression of Opinions. Public expression of opinion in such a way as to constitute taking an active part in political management or in political campaigns is prohibited.

J. Badges, Buttons, Pictures, and Stickers.

(1) Employees may not distribute campaign literature, badges, or buttons.

(2) Employees may wear political badges or buttons and display political posters or pictures in the windows of their homes or on their automobiles, but such displays are prohibited if done as a part of an organized partisan political campaign.

K. Newspapers - Publication of Letters or Articles. Employees may not publish or be connected editorially or managerially with any newspaper generally known as partisan from a political standpoint, and they may not write for publication or publish any letter or article, signed or unsigned, soliciting votes in favor of or against any political party, candidate, or faction.

L. Activity at the Polls and for Candidates.

(1) Employees have the right to register and vote in any election.

(2) Employees may not solicit votes, help to get voters out on election days, act as accredited checkers, watchers, challengers or similar officers on behalf of a political party or a candidate in a partisan election.

(3) Employees may not transport voters to and from the polls on behalf of a political party or a candidate in a partisan election.

M. Canvassing Tours. Employees may not transport candidates on canvassing tours, whether gratuitously or for pay.

N. Election Officers. Employees may serve as election officers, provided the duties of the office are discharged in an impartial manner and the employees do not become candidates for such office in a partisan election.

O. Parades.

(1) Employees may not participate in or help organize political parades.

(2) Employees may be members of a band or orchestra that takes part in parades or rallies, provided such band or orchestra is generally available for hire as a musical organization.

P. Petitions.

(1) Employees have the right either individually or collectively to petition Congress, or any Member thereof.

(2) Employees may sign nominating petitions in behalf of partisan candidates. Employees may not initiate such petitions or canvass for the signatures of others.

Q. Candidacy for Public Elective Office.

(1) Employees may not serve as candidates for nomination or for election to a National, State, county, or municipal office. Exception: See SM 370.733.1.3.

(2) Employees may not solicit others to become candidates for nomination or for election to partisan offices.

3. Exceptions to Political Activity Restrictions. An employee who resides in a municipality or political subdivision listed in Appendix A may take an active part in political management and political campaigns in connection with partisan elections for local offices of the municipality or political subdivision in which he/she resides subject to the following limitations:

A. Participation in politics must be as an independent candidate or on behalf of, or in opposition to, an independent candidate.

B. Candidacy for, and service in, an elective office must not result in neglect of, or interference with, the performance of the employee's duties; or create conflict, or apparent conflict, of interests.

C. Employees elected or appointed to elective local office requiring full-time service must resign their positions with the Federal Government. If elected or appointed to elective local office requiring only part-time service, employees may accept and hold the same without relinquishing Federal employment, provided the holding of such part-time office does not conflict or interfere with Federal duties.

D. Before accepting elective local office, employees must obtain approval to engage in outside work by submitting Form 9-1510, Request to Engage in Outside Work or Activity, through channels to the Division Chief. See SM 370.735.5.3.

4. Nonpartisan Political Activity Permitted. There is no prohibition against engaging in political activity in connection with:

A. An election and the preceding campaign when none of the candidates is to be nominated or elected to represent a party which ran candidates in the preceding presidential election.

B. A question which is not specifically identified with a National or State political party. Questions relating to constitutional amendments, referenda, approval of municipal ordinances, and others of a similar character are deemed not specifically identified with a National or State political party.

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Last modification: 30-Aug-2017@08:45 (kk)
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