[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 74 (Wednesday, April 17, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 22767-22770]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08086]



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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 74 / Wednesday, April 17, 2013 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 22767]]



NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION

5 CFR Part 9601

RIN 3133-AE10


Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the 
National Credit Union Administration

AGENCY: National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The National Credit Union Administration, with the concurrence 
of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), is issuing this final rule 
for employees of the NCUA that supplements the Standards of Ethical 
Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (Standards) issued by 
OGE. The rule prohibits credit union-related employment and requires 
NCUA employees to obtain approval before engaging in other types of 
outside employment or activities.

DATES: This final rule is effective April 17, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Hattie Ulan, National Credit Union 
Administration, Alternate Agency Ethics Official, Office of General 
Counsel, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 or telephone (703-518-
6540).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background
II. Discussion of Amendments
III. Direct Final Rule
IV. Regulatory Procedures

I. Background

Why is NCUA issuing this rule?

    On August 7, 1992, OGE published the Standards, which became 
effective on February 3, 1993. See 57 FR 35006-35067, as corrected at 
57 FR 48557, 57 FR 52483, and 60 FR 51167, with additional grace period 
extensions for certain existing provisions at 59 FR 4779-4780, 60 FR 
6390-6391, and 60 FR 66857-66858. The Standards, as corrected and 
amended, are codified in 5 CFR part 2635. The Standards set uniform 
ethical conduct standards applicable to all executive branch personnel 
(including NCUA employees).
    Section 2635.105 of the Standards authorizes an agency, with the 
concurrence of OGE, to publish agency-specific supplemental regulations 
that are necessary to properly implement its respective ethics program. 
To date, the NCUA Board (Board) has not published any agency-specific 
ethics regulations pursuant to Section 2635.105.\1\ Section 2635.802 of 
the OGE Standards prohibits employees from engaging in outside 
employment or activities that conflict with official duties. Section 
2635.803 of the OGE Standards authorizes the Board to issue a 
supplemental regulation requiring employees to obtain its prior 
approval before engaging in outside employment or activities where the 
Board has determined it necessary or desirable for the purpose of 
administering its ethics program. Such a supplemental regulation may 
apply to all employees or a category of employees. Id. Most, if not 
all, of the other financial regulatory agencies have issued 
supplemental regulations. In most of the agencies' regulations 
reviewed, employees are prohibited from working for regulated 
institutions and affiliates, and employees must get approval for 
certain outside employment and activities due to the nature of the 
agencies' work and the potential for conflict of interest.
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    \1\ Certain senior NCUA examiners are subject to post-employment 
restrictions found in Part 796 of the NCUA Regulations, 12 CFR part 
796. Part 796 was issued pursuant to a provision of the Federal 
Credit Union (FCU) Act, rather than pursuant to the ethics 
regulations. See Section 206(w) of the FCU Act, 12 U.S.C. 1786(w).
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Why is this rule necessary?

    In the recent past there have been cases where NCUA employees have 
participated in outside employment/activities without such consultation 
and the employment/activity has resulted in either an appearance of or 
an actual conflict of interest. For example, an NCUA examiner could not 
serve as a volunteer director of a credit union as this would present 
an appearance of a conflict of interest as well as other potential 
violations of the Standards. Neither could an NCUA examiner serve as a 
paid part-time manager of a credit union for the same reasons. The 
Board has now determined that a supplemental regulation will be 
necessary and useful in avoiding potential conflicts of interest. The 
rule contains a general provision referring to the Standards and 
additional ethics provisions that prohibit employment in credit unions 
and related entities and requires approval for other outside employment 
and activities. The Board, with OGE's concurrence, has determined that 
the following supplemental rule is necessary for successful 
implementation of its ethics program in light of NCUA's unique programs 
and operations.

 Where is the new rule found?

    All supplemental agency ethics regulations are found in part 5 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations, following the OGE Regulations.\2\ NCUA 
has been assigned 5 CFR part 9601 for its supplemental ethics 
regulation.
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    \2\ All other NCUA-specific regulations are found in 12 CFR 
chapter VII.
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II. Discussion of Amendments

Section 9601.101 General

What does the general provision contain?
    Paragraph (a) explains that the regulation applies to NCUA 
employees, other than special government employees,\3\ and supplements 
the OGE Standards. Paragraph (b) notes that employees must comply with 
ethics guidance and procedures issued by NCUA. This paragraph also 
includes cross-references to other OGE ethics related regulations 
including the regulations concerning Executive Branch financial 
disclosure, financial interests, and post-employment, and to the NCUA 
specific regulation regarding post-employment restrictions applicable 
to senior examiners spending a specific amount of time in a particular 
credit union. See footnote 1. In addition, this paragraph notes that 
employees should contact an NCUA ethics official if an ethics question 
arises.
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    \3\ Special government employees are defined in the Standards at 
5 CFR 2635.102(l) as employees to perform temporary duties for a 
period not to exceed 130 days during any consecutive 365-day period.

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[[Page 22768]]

Section 9601.102 Definitions

How is employment defined?
    Paragraph (a)(1) broadly defines ``employment'' to include any form 
of non-Federal employment or business relationship involving the 
provision of personal services other than in the discharge of official 
duties, regardless of whether the services are compensated. In addition 
to more typical second jobs, employment includes outside teaching, 
speaking or writing when the writing is done under an arrangement with 
another person or for the publication of a written product. Employees 
who operate their own businesses are subject to the approval 
requirement. Paragraph (a)(2) excludes from the definition of 
employment non-compensated participation in the activities of certain 
nonprofit organizations. Employees are not required to seek approval if 
working for the type of organization described in paragraph (a)(2) 
unless: (1) The employee will receive compensation other than 
reimbursement of expenses; or (2) the organization's activities 
substantially relate to the employee's official duties. If either of 
the above two criteria are met, employees must request and obtain 
approval before engaging in outside employment for the organization.
How are credit union-related entities defined?
    For purposes of this rule, a credit union includes both insured and 
noninsured credit unions as defined in section 102(7) of the Federal 
Credit Union Act, 12 U.S.C. 1752(7), and a credit union service 
organization (CUSO) as defined in section 741.222(a) of the NCUA 
Regulations, 12 CFR 741.222. A credit union trade group is a trade 
organization whose membership is comprised of credit unions, CUSOs, 
state credit union regulators, state credit union organizations, and 
employees and officials of such organizations. Other credit union-
related entities may be specified in Instructions issued by the 
Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) pursuant to section 104.

Section 9601.103 Prohibited Employment

Why is an outright prohibition necessary?
    Most of the financial regulatory agencies' supplemental ethics 
regulations contain an outright prohibition against their employees 
working for their own regulated entities as well as affiliated 
entities, in any capacity. See, e.g., FDIC Supplemental Standards at 5 
CFR 3201.107(a). The Board believes that an outright prohibition 
against NCUA employees, other than special government employees, 
working for credit unions, CUSOs, credit union trade groups, and 
related entities is appropriate and necessary because such employment 
or other service would either involve a direct conflict of interest or 
the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Section 9601.104 Prior Approval for Outside Employment

When is approval required?
    Paragraph (a)(1) requires prior approval before an employee, other 
than a special government employee, engages in non-prohibited outside 
employment, with or without compensation. Employees must obtain the 
approval of their immediate supervisor with the concurrence of the 
Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO). Paragraph (a)(2) includes an 
approval requirement for outside employment that predates the effective 
date of this regulation. It also requires that new NCUA employees, 
other than special government employees, either terminate such 
employment or activities if prohibited by section 103 or get approval 
of continuing outside employment or activities pursuant to the rule.
How is the request for approval submitted and what information must it 
contain?
    Paragraph (b) requires that the employee, other than a special 
government employee, submit an email or other form of written 
correspondence to his or her supervisor to request approval. The 
employee must submit the name of his or her outside employer, the title 
of the outside position, the nature of the work to be performed, and 
the estimated duration of the outside employment. The employee may 
provide additional information addressing any potential conflicts of 
interest. This paragraph also requires that if there is a significant 
change in either outside employment or in the employee's official 
position at NCUA, the employee must submit a revised request for 
approval.
What standard will be applied to requests for approval?
    Paragraph (c) states that approval shall be granted only upon a 
determination that the outside employment is not expected to involve 
conduct prohibited by statute or Federal regulation, including 5 CFR 
part 2635. This involves a conflict of interest analysis (including 
appearance issues) as well as a review of the additional prohibitions 
in the Standards addressing outside employment. See 5 CFR 2635.801 et 
seq. For example, the Standards address service as an expert witness, 
limit the outside income of noncareer employees, and impose limitations 
on teaching, speaking and writing. See 5 CFR 2635.804, 805 and 807. 
There are also provisions in the United States criminal code addressing 
special approval for certain representational activities. See 18 U.S.C. 
203(d) and 205(e). These provisions are addressed in a note to the 
rule. The requirement for the DAEO's concurrence with the supervisor's 
approval will assure that all provisions of the ethics laws are 
addressed in the approval process.

Section 9601.105 DAEO Responsibilities

What are the DAEO's responsibilities under this new rule?
    Pursuant to delegated authority, the DAEO will issue an Instruction 
setting forth specific procedures to be followed concerning this new 
regulation prior to its effective date. As noted above, the effective 
date is the date of publication in the Federal Register. Future 
Instructions may exempt categories of employment from prior approval as 
well as set forth examples of outside employment that are permissible 
or impermissible under the rule, including examples of organizations or 
entities similar to credit unions, credit union trade groups, and 
credit union service organizations (other credit union-related 
entities).

III. Direct Final Rule

    Pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553, notice 
and public comment are not required because this rule concerns matters 
of agency organization, practice and procedure. In addition, the Board 
finds good cause exists for waiving the general notice of proposed 
rulemaking and opportunity for public comment because the rule 
primarily affects agency employees. The Board is issuing this rule as a 
final rule that is effective upon publication. See 5 U.S.C. 553(a)(2), 
(b)(3)(A) and (B), and (d)(3).

IV. Regulatory Procedures

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires NCUA to prepare an analysis 
to describe any significant economic impact a rule may have on a 
substantial number of small credit unions, defined as those under ten 
million dollars. This interim final rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a

[[Page 22769]]

substantial number of small credit unions as it primarily affects NCUA 
employees.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    NCUA has determined that the final rule will not increase paperwork 
requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and regulations 
of the Office of Management and Budget. 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.; 5 CFR 
part 1320.

Executive Order 13132

    Executive Order 13132 encourages independent regulatory agencies to 
consider the impact of their actions on state and local interests. In 
adherence with fundamental federalism principles, NCUA, an independent 
regulatory agency as defined in 44 U.S.C. 5302(5), voluntarily complies 
with the executive order. The final rule will not have substantial 
direct effects on the states, on the connection between the national 
government and the states, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government. NCUA has 
determined that this rule does not constitute a policy that has 
federalism implications for purposes of the executive order.

The Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999--
Assessment of Federal Regulations and Policies on Families

    The NCUA has determined that this final rule will not affect family 
well-being within the meaning of section 654 of the Treasury and 
General Government Appropriations Act, 1999, Public Law 105-277, 112 
Stat. 2681 (1998).

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 
Public Law 104-212 (SBREFA)), provides generally for congressional 
review of agency rules. A reporting requirement is triggered in 
instances where NCUA issues a final rule as defined by Section 551 of 
the APA. 5 U.S.C. 551. NCUA has requested a SBREFA determination from 
the Office of Management and Budget, which is pending. As required by 
SBREFA, NCUA will file the appropriate reports with Congress and the 
General Accountability Office so that the rule may be reviewed.

List of Subjects in 5 CFR Part 9601

    Conflict of interests, Government employees.

    Dated: February 21, 2013.
Mary Rupp,
Secretary of the Board.
     Approved: April 1, 2013.
Walter M. Shaub, Jr.
Director, Office of Government Ethics.

    Accordingly, for the reasons set forth in the preamble, the 
National Credit Union Administration Board, with the concurrence of the 
Office of Government Ethics, is amending title 5 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations by adding a new chapter LXXXVI, consisting of part 9601, to 
read as follows:

TITLE 5--Administrative Personnel

CHAPTER LXXXVI--NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION

PART 9601--SUPPLEMENTAL STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT FOR EMPLOYEES 
OF THE NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION

Sec.
9601.101 General.
9601.102 Definitions.
9601.103 Prohibited outside employment.
9601.104 Prior approval for outside employment.
9601.105 DAEO's responsibilities.

    Authority:  12 U.S.C. 1752a(d), 1766; 5 U.S.C. 7301; 5 U.S.C. 
App. (Ethics in Government Act of 1978); E.O. 12674, 54 FR 15159 3 
CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 215, as modified by E.O. 12731, 55 FR 42547, 3 
CFR, 1990 Comp., p. 306; 5 CFR 2635.105, 5 CFR 2635.403, 5 CFR 
2635.502 and 5 CFR 2635.803


Sec.  9601.101  General

    (a) Purpose. In accordance with 5 CFR 2635.105, the regulations in 
this part apply to employees of the National Credit Union 
Administration (NCUA), other than special government employees as 
defined in 5 CFR 2635.102(l) and supplement the Standards of Ethical 
Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch contained in 5 CFR part 
2635 (Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Standards).
    (b) Other regulations, guidance and procedures. In addition to 5 
CFR part 2635 and this part, NCUA employees are required to comply with 
implementing guidance and procedures issued by the NCUA in accordance 
with 5 CFR 2635.105(c). NCUA employees are also subject to other 
government-wide ethics regulations including, but not limited to: 
Regulations concerning financial disclosure contained in 5 CFR part 
2634, regulations concerning executive branch financial interests and 
conflicts contained in 5 CFR part 2640, and regulations concerning 
post-employment restrictions contained in 5 CFR part 2641. Certain 
senior NCUA examiners are also subject to post-employment restrictions 
contained in NCUA's Regulation found at 12 CFR part 796. Employees 
should contact an NCUA ethics official if they have questions about any 
provision of this regulation or other ethics-related matters.


Sec.  9601.102  Definitions.

    The following definitions apply to this part:
    (a) Employment.
    (1) For purposes of this section, ``employment'' means any form of 
non-Federal employment, business relationship, or activity involving 
the provision of personal services by the employee, whether or not for 
compensation. It includes, but is not limited to, services as an 
officer, director, employee, agent, advisor, attorney, consultant, 
contractor, general partner, trustee, teacher, or speaker. It includes 
a writing when done under an arrangement with another person for 
production or publication of the written product.
    (2) The definition of employment does not include participation in 
the activities of a nonprofit charitable, religious, professional, 
social, fraternal, educational, recreational, public service or civic 
organization, unless:
    (i) The employee will receive compensation other than reimbursement 
of expenses; or
    (ii) The organization's activities are devoted substantially to 
matters relating to the employee's official duties as defined in 5 CFR 
2635.807(a)(2)(i)(B) through (E).
    Note to paragraph (a): There is a special approval requirement set 
out in both 18 U.S.C. 203(d) and 205(e), respectively, for certain 
representational activities otherwise covered by the conflict of 
interest restrictions on compensation and activities of employees in 
claims against and other matters affecting the Government. Thus, an 
employee who wishes to act as agent or attorney for, or otherwise 
represent his parents, spouse, child, or any person for whom, or any 
estate for which, he is serving as guardian, executor, administrator, 
trustee, or other personal fiduciary in such matters must obtain the 
approval required by law of the Government official responsible for the 
employee's appointment in addition to the regulatory approval of this 
section.
    (b) Credit union-related entities.
    (1) Credit union includes insured and non-insured credit unions as 
defined in Section 102(7) of the Federal Credit Union Act (the Act), 12 
U.S.C. 1752(7).

[[Page 22770]]

    (2) Credit union service organization as defined in Sec.  
741.222(a) of the NCUA Regulations, 12 CFR 741.222(a).
    (3) Credit union trade groups include credit union trade 
organizations whose membership is comprised of credit union, CUSO, 
state credit union regulators, state credit union organizations, and 
officials and employees of such organizations.
    (4) Other credit union-related entities may be defined pursuant to 
Agency Instruction.


Sec.  9601.103  Prohibited outside employment.

    No employee may engage in outside employment, with or without 
compensation, with any credit union, credit union trade group, credit 
union service organization, or other credit union-related entity, in 
any capacity.


Sec.  9601.104  Prior approval for outside employment.

    (a) General requirement.
    (1) Before engaging in any outside employment, with or without 
compensation, other than prohibited employment in section 103 of the 
Act, an NCUA employee, other than a special government employee, must 
obtain written approval from the employee's supervisor and the 
concurrence of the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO), except to 
the extent that the DAEO has issued an instruction pursuant to section 
105 of the Act exempting an activity or class of activities from this 
requirement.
    (2) Any employee, other than a special government employee, who, 
before the effective date of this part or commencement of employment 
with NCUA, began engaging in outside employment must, within 30 
calendar days of the effective date of this part or 30 days of 
commencement of employment with NCUA, either terminate such employment 
if it is in violation of section 103 of the Act or request written 
approval from his or her supervisor and the concurrence of the DAEO in 
accordance with this section. The employee may continue engaging in the 
outside employment while the request for approval is under review.
    (b) Procedure for requesting approval.
    (1) Employees shall request the approval required by paragraph (a) 
of this section by email or other form of written correspondence in 
advance of engaging in outside employment as defined in section 102 of 
the Act. The employee requesting approval shall submit the request to 
his/her supervisor.
    (2) The request for approval to engage in outside employment shall 
set forth, at a minimum:
    (i) The name of the employer or organization;
    (ii) The nature of the activity or other work to be performed;
    (iii) The title of the position; and
    (iv) The estimated duration of the outside employment.
    (3) Upon a significant change in the nature or scope of the outside 
employment or in the employee's official position with the NCUA, the 
employee must, within 7 calendar days of the change, submit a revised 
request for approval.
    (c) Standard for approval. Approval shall be granted only upon a 
determination that the outside employment is not expected to involve 
conduct prohibited by statute or Federal regulation, including 5 CFR 
part 2635.


Sec.  9601.105  DAEO's responsibilities.

    The NCUA DAEO may issue Instructions governing the submission of 
requests for approval of outside employment. The Instructions may 
exempt categories of employment from prior approval requirement of this 
section based on a determination that employment within those 
categories of employment would generally be approved and is not likely 
to involve conduct prohibited by statute or Federal regulation, 
including 5 CFR part 2635. The DAEO may include in these Instructions 
examples of outside employment that are permissible or impermissible 
consistent with this part and 5 CFR part 2635, including examples of 
other credit union-related entities.

[FR Doc. 2013-08086 Filed 4-16-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7535-01-P