Ethics and DoD Employees

March 5, 2007 – 11:10 A.M.

This morning I spoke with Mr. Eric Rishel at the Department of Defense, Standards of Conduct Office (SOCO). I asked him to clarify sections of the “Joint Ethics Regulation (JER)” (DoD 5500.7-R) about endorsements.

Mr. Rishel said military personnel are permitted to endorse projects in a private capacity, using their military title only. An example would be:

No – Lieutenant Colonel John Q. Doe, Provost Marshal, Ft Bragg
YesLieutenant Colonel John Q. Doe – See section 3-300 (1) below.

The endorsement should be made in a private capacity from a location other than one where official business is conducted.

Schools and colleges can make endorsements. The students of military colleges are considered DoD employees since they are technically military even as students. They can make endorsements in an unofficial capacity. The institution itself is not considered a DoD entity.

Organizations like the VFW, American Legion, etc. can make endorsements. They are not considered a DoD entity.

Mr. Rishel said that some agencies might have state regulations that may come into play. The specific regulations would have to be quoted by the person or organization in question.

Following are sections of the “Joint Ethics Regulation (JER)” (DoD 5500.7-R), a 185 page document prepared by The Standards Of Conduct Office – Department of Defense (DoD). These sections explain endorsements.

1-211. DoD Employee:

  1. Any DoD civilian officer or employee (including special Government employees) of any DoD Component (including any non appropriated fund activity).
  2. Any active duty Regular or Reserve military officer, including warrant officers.
  3. Any active duty enlisted member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps.
  4. Any Reserve or National Guard member on active duty under orders issued pursuant to title 10, United States Code.
  5. Any Reserve or National Guard member while performing official duties or functions under the authority of either title 10 or title 32, United States Code, or while engaged in any activity related to the performance of such duties or functions, including any time the member uses his Reserve or National Guard of the United States title or position, or any authority derived there from.
  6. Any faculty member in a civil service position or hired pursuant to title 10, United States Code, and any student (including a cadet or midshipman) of an academy, college, university, or school of DoD.
  7. Consistent with labor agreements and international treaties and agreements, and host country laws, any foreign national working for a DoD Component except those hired pursuant to a defense contract.

2-304. Use of Military Title by Retirees or Reserves. Retired military members and members of Reserve Components, not on active duty, may use military titles in connection with commercial enterprises, provided they clearly indicate their retired or inactive Reserve status. However, any use of military titles is prohibited if it in any way casts discredit on DoD or gives the appearance of sponsorship, sanction, endorsement, or approval by DoD. In addition, in overseas areas, commanders may further restrict the use of titles by retired military members and members of Reserve Components.

3-209. Endorsement. Endorsement of a non Federal entity, event, product, service, or enterprise may be neither stated nor implied by DoD or DoD employees in their official capacities and titles, positions, or organization names may not be used to suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment of any non Federal entity except those listed in subsection 3 210., below.

DoD employees may use or allow the use of their titles, positions, or organization names in conjunction with their own names only to identify themselves in the performance of their official duties. Use of titles, positions, and organization names when acting in a personal capacity is covered by subsection 3-300., below. Offering group life insurance programs sponsored by the State Military Department, to the same extent and similar manner as offering of the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program, is not an endorsement of a non-Federal entity in violation of this Regulation.

3-210. Fundraising and Membership Drives

a. DoD employees shall not officially endorse or appear to endorse membership drives or fundraising for any non-Federal entity except the following organizations which are not subject to the provisions of subsection 3-211 of this Regulation, below:

(1) The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC);
(2) Emergency and disaster appeals approved by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM);
(3) Army Emergency Relief;
(4) Navy Marine Corps Relief Society;
(5) Air Force Assistance Fund, including:

(a) Air Force Enlisted Men’s Widows and Dependents Home Foundation, Inc.;
(b) Air Force Village;
(c) Air Force Aid Society;
(d) General and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation.

(6) Other organizations composed primarily of DoD employees or their dependents when fundraising among their own members for the benefit of welfare funds for their own members or their dependents when approved by the head of the DoD Component command or organization after consultation with the DAEO or designee. (This includes most morale, welfare and recreation programs, regardless of funding sources).

(7) For National Guard Members who are D oD employees@ as defined in subsection 1-211., above, charitable, community, or civic organizations, as identified in 32 U.S.C. 508 and DoD Directive 1100.20 (references (l) and (m)), when approved by the head of the DoD Component command or organization after consultation with the DAEO, or designee; provided, however, that no member of the National Guard may be ordered, coerced, or compelled to participate in or contribute to any fundraising or membership drives.

b. Fundraising by DoD employees is strictly regulated by E.O.
12353 (reference (l)), 5 C.F.R. 950 (reference (m)), DoD Directive 5035.1 (reference (n)), DoD Instruction 5035.5 (reference (o)), DoD Directive 5410.18 (reference (p)), 5 C.F.R. 2635.808 (reference (h)) in subsection 1-200 of this Regulation, and by the prohibitions against preferential treatment established in subsection 3-209 of this Regulation, above.


3-300. Participation

  1. Fundraising and Other Activities. Subject to other provisions of this Regulation, DoD employees may voluntarily participate in activities of non-Federal entities as individuals in their personal capacities, provided they act exclusively outside the scope of their official positions.

(1) Except as provided in 5 CFR 2635.807(b) (reference (h)) in subsection 2-100 of this Regulation, DoD employees may not use or allow the use of their official titles, positions or organization names in connection with activities performed in their personal capacities as this tends to suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment by DoD of any non-Federal entity involved. Military grade and military department as part of an individual’s name (e.g., Captain Smith, U.S. Navy) may be used, the same as other conventional titles such as Mr., Ms., or Honorable, in relationship to personal activities.

(2) Purely personal, unofficial volunteer efforts to support fundraising outside the Federal Government workplace are not prohibited where the efforts do not imply DoD endorsement.