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Department of Interior


The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities and supplies the energy to power our future.

The agency employs about 70,000 people in approximately 2,400 locations with offices across the United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States.
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phyllojoe  
#1 Posted : Saturday, May 22, 2021 5:58:32 PM(UTC)
phyllojoe

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I work the NPS at a National Park that I wont name, in case anybody from my office is on this forum, I'll stay anonymous.

I've been a seasonal employee for this park for about five years. For the last two years, I have continued working for this office/agency/project after my seasonal 1039 hours are all used up! This is carried out by my supervisors by using a nonprofit as a money re-direct and a mechanism to keep me on the books and continue working during my "off season". This is basically done by funneling money into this nonprofit, and this nonprofit hires me on to help out with the NPS.

What I want to know is-- is this ethical? Is this breaking some kind of rule? I know my supervisors believe that they are taking care of me, but I feel like it's more like exploitation at this point.

I think I should be a year-round employee, but instead I work for two different (sometimes three) orgs with the same "job", and have no constant health benefits. It's kind of a headache!

What can I do? Am I just stuck here?

Thanks!
ji_  
#2 Posted : Monday, May 24, 2021 10:00:15 AM(UTC)
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1. It is ethical to hold a seasonal NPS job.

2. It is ethical to hold another job with a non-profit organization during the off season.

3. It is ethical for the NPS to have a cooperative agreement with a non-profit organization.

Which of these are you thinking is unethical? Or,

4. Are you thinking it is unethical for you to work off-season for a non-profit organization that receives funds from the NPS?

5. Are you thinking it is unethical for the NPS to keep your position as a 1039 position?

Have you talked to the NPS ethics counselor?

Edited by user Monday, May 24, 2021 10:00:59 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

phyllojoe  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, May 25, 2021 7:07:03 AM(UTC)
phyllojoe

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Originally Posted by: ji_ Go to Quoted Post
1. It is ethical to hold a seasonal NPS job.

5. Are you thinking it is unethical for the NPS to keep your position as a 1039 position?



This is what I find unethical. As I am seamlessly working for much more than a 1039, yet I have been kept at this seasonal status, and work for more. I enjoy having work in the off season, but I want health benefits and to accrue the retirement/vacation/sick leave that I deserve.

I have not spoken to an ethics counsellor. I worry that if I speak to one, there will be retaliation.



FatHappyCat  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, May 25, 2021 10:52:47 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: phyllojoe Go to Quoted Post
What I want to know is-- is this ethical? Is this breaking some kind of rule? I know my supervisors believe that they are taking care of me, but I feel like it's more like exploitation at this point.


I'm leaning with Uncle Sam on this one based on the information given since I fail to see the ethical issue. I'm fairly certain that the amount of hours allotted to a position is decided by people much higher than your supervisor. Looking at it from the other side, it seems like they have rules they need to follow as well. The fact that they don't go above and beyond to request more hours doesn't necessarily make it unethical. In fact, it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that if a complaint was filed, they would just be, "my bad, we won't 'exploit' the guy anymore", and just eliminate their workaround. Are you ready to make that leap of faith?
ji_  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, May 25, 2021 1:06:55 PM(UTC)
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If there is an ethical issue (I'm not sure, but "if"), the easiest solution will be to drop the funding agreement with the non-profit organization.
frankgonzalez  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, May 26, 2021 2:56:12 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: FatHappyCat Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: phyllojoe Go to Quoted Post
What I want to know is-- is this ethical? Is this breaking some kind of rule? I know my supervisors believe that they are taking care of me, but I feel like it's more like exploitation at this point.


I'm leaning with Uncle Sam on this one based on the information given since I fail to see the ethical issue. I'm fairly certain that the amount of hours allotted to a position is decided by people much higher than your supervisor. Looking at it from the other side, it seems like they have rules they need to follow as well. The fact that they don't go above and beyond to request more hours doesn't necessarily make it unethical. In fact, it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that if a complaint was filed, they would just be, "my bad, we won't 'exploit' the guy anymore", and just eliminate their workaround. Are you ready to make that leap of faith?
This.

They may have asked for another FTE and been told not going to happen. They find a work around that allows you to work year round. Is it ideal for either side? Not at all. Is it the best of the bad options available to them? Probably.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
tic32003  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, June 1, 2021 8:43:20 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: phyllojoe Go to Quoted Post
I work the NPS at a National Park that I wont name, in case anybody from my office is on this forum, I'll stay anonymous.

I've been a seasonal employee for this park for about five years. For the last two years, I have continued working for this office/agency/project after my seasonal 1039 hours are all used up! This is carried out by my supervisors by using a nonprofit as a money re-direct and a mechanism to keep me on the books and continue working during my "off season". This is basically done by funneling money into this nonprofit, and this nonprofit hires me on to help out with the NPS.

What I want to know is-- is this ethical? Is this breaking some kind of rule? I know my supervisors believe that they are taking care of me, but I feel like it's more like exploitation at this point.

I think I should be a year-round employee, but instead I work for two different (sometimes three) orgs with the same "job", and have no constant health benefits. It's kind of a headache!

What can I do? Am I just stuck here?

Thanks!


Short answer - you are not working beyond your 1039 hours. You are terminated at the end of your season and are being hired by a private organization (the non-profit). During the period when you are working for the non-profit, you are not an NPS employee (or Federal employee of any kind).

So from that standpoint, there are no ethical issues.

The terminology you are using regarding the "redirect" of money or "funneling" money is likely not correct. The only way for federal funds to transfer to a private organization is through a formal contracting action (either a contract or financial assistance agreement). Without a lot more information, it's not possible to say if there are any ethical issues with this aspect.

Overall, based on the info you provided, no rules are being broken and there are no ethics violations.



smithandjones  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, June 1, 2021 11:39:55 AM(UTC)

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It is worth a consultation with an employment attorney. This is a rather complicated scenario and you won't get good legal advice on here.

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