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By Patrick Tremblay
DCMA Public Affairs
Fall has arrived and annual elections are around the corner. Each year, the Defense Contract Management Agency reminds personnel of two things. First, DOD and agency leadership encourages and actively supports DOD personnel in their civic duty to vote. Second, the department has a longstanding tradition and policy to avoid the perception of DOD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of any political candidate, campaign, or cause.
The department’s guidance is driven by many things. The policy bedrock is found in the federal Hatch Act and DOD Directive 1344.10, which cover partisan political activities by civilians and military service members, respectively. Outside of these established rules, DCMA employees should also remember that their behavior can have a profound effect on their workplace, and they ultimately represent the government to customers, industry and the general public.
Policies regarding virtual and online activity are routinely updated to reflect changes in the cyberspace area. In August, DOD released its first department-wide social media policy, DOD Instruction 5400.17, Official Use of Social Media for Public Affairs Purposes. While the new policy provides direction for official social media accounts, it also helps draw a clear line between official and personal online presence.
Everyone at DCMA has a role in building and maintaining strong teams, and ensuring DOD remains apolitical in reality and in public perception. Employees are encouraged to discuss appropriate behavior with their supervisors and local leadership. DCMA’s Office of General Counsel has ethics counselors ready to assist, and they maintain a comprehensive Hatch Act page for employee information (login required) at https://dod365.sharepoint-mil.us/sites/DCMA-PH-GC/SitePages/POLITICAL-ACTIVITIES-%26-THE-HATCH-ACT.aspx
The following provides some permitted and prohibited activity guidance for DMCA employees.
1. Under DoD Directive 1344.10, a member of the Armed Forces on active duty may:
• Register, vote, and express personal opinions on political candidates and public issues;
• Encourage other military members to exercise voting rights;
• Join a political club (even if partisan) and attend political meetings when not in uniform;
• Sign petitions for specific legislative action or to place a candidate's name on the ballot;
• Write letters to the editor expressing personal views (so long as not part of organized letter writing campaign or solicitation of votes for or against a political party or partisan political cause or candidate);
• Make permissible monetary contributions to a political organization, party, or committee;
• Display a bumper sticker on a member's private vehicle; and
• Attend a partisan or nonpartisan political fundraising activity, meeting, rally, debate, convention, or activity when not in uniform and when no appearance of sponsorship or endorsement can reasonably be drawn.
2. Less Restricted (below the SES level) civilian Executive Branch employees fall under the Hatch Act and can do everything listed above for a member of the Armed Forces on active duty as well as the following activities:
• Volunteer to work on a partisan campaign, and go door to door with the candidate and distribute campaign literature;
• Write speeches for a candidate and attend and be active at political rallies and meetings;
• Join and hold office in a political party or political organization;
• Endorse a candidate for partisan political office in a political advertisement (may not use DoD title);
• Organize and work at a fundraising event (no soliciting or collecting money); and
• Serve as a delegate to a state, local or national political party convention and work to get out the vote on Election Day.
1. Members of the Armed Forces on active duty may not:
• Participate in partisan political fundraising activities, rallies, conventions, management of campaigns, or debates. The prohibition is broad and does not depend on whether a member is in uniform;
• Use official authority or influence to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or require or solicit political contributions from others;
• Publish partisan political articles or letters soliciting votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause;
• Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause;
• Serve in official capacity/sponsor a partisan political club;
• Conduct a political opinion survey or distribute political literature;
• Speak before a partisan political gathering;
• Work for a political committee or candidate during a campaign, on election day, or while closing out a campaign;
• Engage in fundraising activity for any political candidate ... in Federal offices, facilities, or on military reservations;
• March or ride in partisan parades;
• Participate in organized efforts to provide voters transportation to polling places if associated with a political party;
• Sell tickets for or actively promote partisan political dinners and similar fundraising events;
• Make a campaign contribution to or receive or solicit a campaign contribution from any other member of the Armed Forces on active duty; or
• Display a partisan political sign visible to the public at one's residence on a military installation.
2. Prohibited political activities applicable to all DoD civilian employees.
• Use their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election; including coercing subordinates to participate in political activity, using one's official title while participating in political activity; using agency social media for political purposes;
• Personally solicit, accept or receiving a political contribution from any person, including hosting or serving as a POC for a fundraising event for a political party or candidate for partisan political office, signing a solicitation letter, collecting money at a fundraising event, soliciting donations through a phone bank;
• Run for the nomination or as a candidate for election to a partisan political office (an election where candidates are running with party affiliation, usually as Democrats or Republicans);
• Participate in political activity while on duty or in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an individual employed by DoD;
• Engage in political activity while wearing a uniform or official insignia identifying the office or position of the DoD employee;
• Engage in political activity while using any vehicle owned or leased by the government of the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof;
• Solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of any person who has an application for any compensation, grant, contract, ruling, license, permit, or certificate pending before the employee's office; or
• Solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of any person who is the subject of or a participant in an ongoing audit, investigation, or enforcement action being carried out by the employee's office.
3. HATCH Act and social media (applicable to civilian employees)
• May not tweet, retweet, share, or like a post or content that solicits political contributions;
• May not engage in political activity via social media (email, blog, tweet, post) while on duty, or in a federal building (even when off-duty), even if using a personal device or email account, sharing or forwarding content authored by others, or forwarding to friends or like-minded coworkers;
• May not like or follow the social media page of a candidate or partisan group while on duty or in the workplace;
• May not use a social media account in your official capacity to engage in political activity.
Media Relations: 804-821-8036
FOIA Requests: 804-609-4533
Download the DCMA Media Kit (PDF)