MEMORANDUM FOR SECRETARIES OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS
CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
UNDER SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
DEPUTY CHIEF MANAGEMENT OFFICER
DIRECTOR, COST ASSESSMENT AND PROGRAM EVALUATION
DIRECTOR, OPERATlONAL TEST AND EVALUATION
GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
ASSISTANT SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER
ASSISTANTS TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT
DIRECTOR, NET ASSESSMENT
DIRECTORS OF THE DEFENSE AGENCIES
DIRECTORS OF THE DOD FIELD ACTIVITIES
SUBJECT: Civilian and Military Personnel Participation in Political Activities
As Election Day 2012 approaches, it is important that all DoD personnel- military and civilian- be aware of the limitations that exist when participating in political activity. All personnel are encouraged to carry out the obligations of citizenship. Eligible voters are encouraged to vote. With respect to other political activities, this notice provides a general overview of the rules and includes hyper links to more specific guidance.
In general, active duty Service members may:
ln general, active duty Service members may not:
The above does not constitute a complete listing of permissible or impermissible activities; reference to the specific language of DoD Directive 1344.10 is appropriate in all instances.
The Hatch Act and DoD policy govern civilian employees' participation in political activities. As a general matter, activity is political if its primary purpose involves activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party or organization or the election of a partisan candidate.
1n general, all DoD civilian employees may:
In general, all DoD civilian employees may not:
Beyond these general guidelines, there are more specific rules that govern active participation in political activities. The majority of civilian personnel, (those specifically not subject to the additional restrictions below) including most General Schedule and all Schedule C personnel are permitted to engage in a variety of partisan campaign activities in their personal capacity. For example, they may volunteer with a partisan campaign (during off-duty time and while not in a Federal building), attend and be active at political rallies and meetings, distribute campaign literature, and work at the polls on Election Day for a partisan candidate. They may also serve as a delegate to a national, state or local political party convention and even as an officer of a partisan campaign, provided they do not solicit, accept, or receive campaign contributions. [Q & A - Less Restricted Employees].
Certain civilian personnel are subject to additional, heightened restrictions and may not participate in partisan campaign activities. These employees include: (i) individuals appointed by the President and confirmed hy the Senate; (ii) non-career SES members; (iii) career members of the SES; (iv) contract appeals board members; and (v) all employees of the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial-lntelligence Agency. Employees subject to additional restrictions are, for example,. prohibited from working for a partisan candidate or political party, serving as a delegate to a political party convention, holding office in a political club, organizing a partisan meeting or rally, distributing campaign material for a partisan candidate, or working at the polls on Election Day for a political party. [Q & A - Further Restricted Employees].
Guidance that addreses requests by campaign organizations to use military installations is issued by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. This guidance requires that all inquiries from campaign organizations be forwarded to a public affairs officer for review. Requests for access to a military installation by candidates for elected office are generally denied. However, requests by candidates and elected officials to participate in official activities not related to a political campaign may be allowed after review by legal and public affairs personnel. [Public Affairs Guidance for Political Campaigns and Elections].
The use of social networking sites has greatly increased and is being used more and more for political purposes. Social media guidance for Service members, [Public Affairs Guidance for Political Campaigns and Elections] and guidance for civilian employees [Social Media and the Hatch Act] provides insight in this emerging area. The restrictions discussed in the guidance apply equally to all social media platforms.
This summary and linked detailed guidance should assist you in applying the rules to your particular circumstances and help you avoid inadvertent missteps that could harm the reputation of the Department. We expect each of you to review and comply with these rules. You are encouraged to consult with you local legal counsel if you have any questions regarding participation in political activities.