Political Activity (The Hatch Act)

Under the 1939 Hatch Act, federal employees, employees of the District of Columbia (D.C.) government, and certain state and local government employees faced significant restrictions on their ability to participate in political activities. Congress amended the Hatch Act in 1993 to permit more political activity by federal and D.C. government employees. (These amendments did not change the provisions applying to state and local employees.)

With the 1993 amendments, many federal employees (including Army civilian employees) are now permitted to take an active part in political management or in political campaigns. However, certain federal agencies and categories of employees continue to be subject to important restrictions on political activities (including partisan candidacy, solicitation of contributions, and on-duty political activity). The penalties for violating the Hatch Act restrictions are very severe. Most violations are subject to removal.

The U.S. Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the Hatch Act. The web site has a great deal of information on restrictions and on permissible activities. By law,the restrictions noted in the second paragraph above apply to classes of employees including career Senior Executive Service (SES) members, administrative law judges, members of board of contract appeals, and employees of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Further, by Department of Defense (DOD) policy, Presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate and non-career SES members may not engage in actions that could be interpreted as associating the DOD with any partisan political cause or issue. If you have questions concerning the appropriateness of certain activities you may contact the OSC directly at 1-800-85-HATCH. For information about DOD restrictions on activity that could be interpreted as associating the DOD with partisan political causes, you may contact the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center or your local legal office.

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