Outside Activities FAQs
CUNY OGC1 ETHICS BULLETIN OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES FAQs
Q1. What is an Outside Activity2?
Pursuant to New York State ethics regulations, 19 NYCRR Part 932, an Outside Activity is defined as any outside employment, on an ongoing basis, unrelated to responsibilities and duties performed by the employee for CUNY; e.g. making pottery, selling real estate, teaching, serving on for-profit and not-for-profit boards or advisory boards³.
Q2. General Requirements
All policy-makers are prohibited from serving as an officer of a political party or political organization or as a member of a national committee of a political party. The ethics regulations further require that salaried policy-makers obtain the prior approval of their appointing authority (campus or system administration) and the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) before:
- holding other public office or engaging in other public employment for more than nominal compensation (defined as: greater than the normal per diem or $4,000 annually);
- engaging in any private employment, business or other activity (including not-for-profit) for more than the defined nominal compensation; and
- serving as director or officer of a for-profit corporation or institution, regardless of compensation
Q3. Who must request approval?
Any CUNY employees who are Policy Makers4 and wish to engage in an outside activity. You are a CUNY policy maker if you file an annual Financial Disclosure Statement with the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) on May 15th of each year. Anyone who will earn more than $1000 annually performing the outside activity.
Q4. When must I apply?
You must ask for approval before you begin to work/perform any outside activity.
Q5. How do I apply?
A) If you will earn5 between $1000 and $4000.
Prepare a cover letter/memo to your immediate supervisor explaining your request for approval of the outside activity. Your supervisor must review the request and when necessary, consult with the College Ethics Officer (a list of Ethics Officers is attached) to determine if the outside activity would result in a conflict of interest. Your supervisor must respond to you in writing with a copy to the Campus Ethics Officer. If your supervisor denies your request there is no appeal process. Do not go to the JCOPE for permission, they will not approve an activity without the written consent of a supervisor.
In the case of college Presidents or Vice Chancellors permission must be sought from CUNY's Chancellor, with the assistance of CUNY's General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs. The CUNY Executive Compensation Plan rules must be consulted for any additional limitations on outside activities.
Once you have your supervisor's written approval you may begin to perform the outside activity.
B) If you will earn more than $4,000.
CUNY will also have to seek the approval from JCOPE. Once you have your supervisor's written permission, you must also fill out the Outside Activity request Form (attached as a pdf file below) and prepare an OA statement6 (see sample below) attach all the documents with a cover memo to your college President with a copy to the college Ethics Officer. The college President should confer with the college Ethics Officer to make certain there is no conflict. If the President approves the outside activity the college Ethics Officer sends all the information to JCOPE requesting approval, with a copy to CUNY's General Counsel.
Once you have the written approval of both CUNY and the JCOPE you may begin to perform the outside activity.
C) OA Form; OA Statement sample:
Q6. What if I still have questions?
Please contact your college Ethics Officer (list attached). You may find additional information on the JCOPE website. Please go to Outside Activity Regulations at http://www.jcope.ny.gov/about/ethc/Part932.html
- CUNY's Office of the General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs
- See the JCOPE ethics regulations at 19 NYCRR Part 932
- When a policy maker serves on an advisory board whether the work is compensated or not permission must be sought from the University's General Counsel to make certain there is no conflict of interest.
- Any CUNY employee engaged in managing a unit or department, even just managing a staff of clinicians in a medical setting makes one a policy maker; soliciting and communication and having decision making responsibilities over vendors doing business with any college or with CUNY central; having decision making responsibilities over how CUNY funds are allocated, spent, processed; approval over who gets paid and how much they are paid; debts discharged; negotiating contracts, procuring contracts with vendor contacts; engaging in obtaining grants, working with foundations to obtain the grants, any supervisory or decision making role involving deciding or evaluating, vendors, contractors, decisions regarding the financing of projects, etc...or the supervision or management of staff that does so, is a Policy Maker. See Ethics Bulletin on Policy Makers FAQs.
- Salary or compensation includes expenses, stipend, travel reimbursement, royalties, bonuses, or commissions on sales, etc.
- The OA Statement should include the following information: What are your current CUNY duties and responsibilities? Describe your outside activity duties and responsibilities; when will you perform this work; how often; for how long? Approximately how much annual compensation is anticipated? Will this outside activity affect your duties at CUNY? Will you take annual leave to perform your outside activities? Briefly explain the circumstances. (See OA Statement sample).