HomeWashington LetterWashington Letter ▶ VA RESEARCH

DOJ Issues Finding that May Limit Outside Salary Support for VA Investigators
The Department of Justice recently issued an ethics memorandum that effectively limits circumstances where VA researchers can receive salary support for research conducted at VA facilities. In a cover email explaining the decision, Antonio J. Laracuente, MBA, Director of Field Operations VHA, Office of Research and Development notes:

"ORD is informing the VA research community of an ethics ruling that will have impact on some studies involving VA researchers receiving salary support for conduct of VA research from a non-Federal source. The Department of Justice (DOJ) provided VA's Office of General Counsel a ruling regarding 18 U.S.C. § 209, which is a Federal ethics statute that generally prohibits Federal employees from receiving compensation for Federal work from a non-Federal source.  As a result of this DOJ ruling, VA researchers are generally prohibited from receiving outside compensation for their conduct of VA Research unless one of two exceptions are applicable: the WOC exception or the State Treasury exception.

Please read the OGC Ethics guidance memorandum carefully and share with the R&D Committee and other individuals or parties you feel are appropriate.  OGC has also developed an FAQ webpage that addresses some commonly asked questions.

ORD understands that this is a complicated issue, and that the DOJ ruling could impact how externally funded research is conducted at your VA facility.  OGC Ethics and ORD are preparing to address questions that you may have."

The ATS Washington Office is aware of the problems this ethics memorandum will likely have and has been working with House and Senate members of the Veterans Affairs Committee to enact legislation to revise the ethics ruling to allow salary support from approved non-VA sources. The ATS is hopeful legislative relief will happen in the near future.


Last Reviewed: February 2022