September 09, 2020

OMB memo on presidential transition includes employee restrictions

OMB has laid out requirements for agencies to prepare for the end of the current Presidential term, including an admonition that federal employees are not to have direct contact with campaign officials unless they receive approval.

Memo M-20-33 says that “To ensure proper, consistent, and equitable dissemination of information to the authorized representatives of the eligible candidates, federal employees should refer any inquiries from the campaigns to their agency transition director or presidential transition communication point of contact.”

“Federal officials should not engage with candidates or their authorized representatives on any matter related to their official duties without prior written approval” from OMB or the federal transition coordinator, it says, adding that any requests for information from a campaign must be reported on the presidential transition directory site.

While the memo doesn’t specifically mention the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel for example last year brought a complaint under that law against an employee who had provided a guided tour of a federal facility to a candidate seeking a partisan political office to provide the candidate with information to be used for the campaign. Earlier this year a settlement was reached in which the employee agreed to resign with a three-year ban against returning to federal employment.

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