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Guidance on Compliance with the Anti-terrorism Certification

CFC Memorandum 2004-12

November 24, 2004

SUBJECT: 2005 CFC Application - Guidance on Compliance with the Anti-terrorism Certification

In the 2004 application for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) required that each organization and federation applying to participate in the CFC, as a condition of participation, certify that it does not knowingly employ individuals or contribute funds to individuals or organizations who appear on U.S. Government lists of persons or entities associated with terrorist activities or support, or whose assets are otherwise blocked by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. This certification is required under the authority of Executive Order 13224 and OPM's plenary authority to administer the CFC, and is consistent with best practices recommended by the Department of the Treasury in its anti-terrorism guidance for U.S.-based charitable organizations.1

OPM acknowledges the critical role that nonprofit charitable organizations serve in meeting social needs and their shared commitment to comply with laws applicable to charities and other United States persons. Ultimately, fiscal responsibility and observance of relevant laws rests with each charity's board of directors, which oversees implementation of the governance practices to be followed by the organization. OPM's anti-terrorism certification and guidance are intended to ensure that charities follow best practices endorsed by the Administration's anti-terrorism efforts and to provide information that will aid charities in achieving compliance with the law.


Following E.O. 13224, the U.S. Department of the Treasury blocked the assets of three charities designated as having ties to al-Qaeda and/or Hamas. In response to inquiries from Arab American and American Muslim communities on how to stop a decline in giving in their communities in view of these blocking orders, the U.S. Department of the Treasury published the U.S. Department of The Treasury Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices For U.S.-Based Charities ("Best Practices Guidelines"). In an effort to help charities enhance donor confidence and prevent financial resources from getting into the hands of terrorist organizations, that publication advocates, among other best practices, that U.S. charities maintain records containing identifying information about their key employees, demonstrate that they conducted a reasonable search of public information to determine whether any foreign recipient organization is or has been implicated in any questionable activity, and require foreign recipient organizations to certify that they do not employ or deal with any entities or individuals on the lists referenced above. The Best Practices Guidelines state that charities should be able to demonstrate that they have verified that foreign recipient organizations do not appear on any list of the U.S. Government, the United Nations, the European Union, and any other list available to the charity, that identifies it as having links to terrorism or money laundering. The guidelines specifically advocate that charities should consult the Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control Specially Designated Nationals List (OFAC SDN), which identifies entities designated by the U.S. Government as Foreign Terrorist Organizations or as supporters of terrorism or other activities that are inimical to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.

The Best Practices Guidelines also state that charities should check the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL) maintained by the Department of State in consultation with the Department of Justice (DOJ). This list, comprised of individuals and organizations found to commit or support terrorist activities, is used primarily for the purpose of excluding aliens associated with entities on the list from entering the United States, but also serves to deter donations or contributions to the named organizations, heightens public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations, and stigmatizes and isolates terrorist organizations.

The Department of the Treasury, together with DOJ, subsequently issued The 2003 National Money Laundering Strategy. That publication calls for increased oversight of charities in order to identify and shut down those charities with ties to terrorist organizations and to keep terrorist financiers from using legitimate but unwitting charities for inappropriate purposes. The Strategy also advocates improved efforts on the part of the Federal Government in sharing information with the private sector.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a government agency that depends on nongovernmental organizations to carry out its mission, requires a certification from both U.S. and foreign non-governmental organizations to the effect that the organization does not provide material support to any individual or entity that appears on the OFAC SDN, the United Nations list, or other specified lists before the organization can receive a grant or cooperative agreement.

OPM Implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Certification

OPM has plenary authority under 5 CFR Part 950 to administer the CFC in compliance with legal standards and Administration directives, including E.O. 13224. Accordingly, OPM has taken the following steps to integrate the directives contained in E.O. 13224 to prevent possible assistance to terrorists or terrorist activities through CFC contributions to charitable organizations.

In July 2003, OPM's Office of CFC Operations (OCFCO) issued CFC Memorandum 2003-7 in which the program requested Local Federal Coordinating Committees (LFCCs) and Principal Combined Fund Organizations (PCFOs) to verify their draft list of participating CFC organizations against the OFAC SDN. Subsequently, the OCFCO reported at a regularly scheduled meeting of the National CFC Committee, a coalition of CFC organizations that works with the OCFCO on CFC issues, its proposal to include a new anti-terrorism certification as part of the 2004 application.

On October 3, 2003, the OCFCO issued CFC Memorandum 2003-10, announcing that the 2004 Model CFC Application, used by groups applying for CFC participation, would contain a new certification to address anti-terrorism guidelines. All charities applying for the 2004 CFC completed the certification.

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2005 CFC Application Requirements

For the 2005 Campaign, OPM streamlined the certification in several ways. First, it eliminated a requirement that the applicant review the list appended to the Executive Order because that list is already incorporated in the OFAC SDN. Second, OPM eliminated the requirement that applicants check the European Union and United Nations lists because of possible limitations on the United States' jurisdiction over persons on those lists as well as for administrative simplification and efficiency. OPM has retained the requirement that applicants check the TEL. Although not required, OPM continues to encourage organizations to consult the United Nations list.

As a result, in order to comply with the 2005 CFC certification, applicants need only consult two lists:

  • the OFAC SDN list; and
  • the TEL.

The certification required for the 2005 CFC reads as follows:

I certify that, as of the date on which this application is being submitted to the CFC, the organization named in this application does not knowingly employ individuals or contribute funds to entities or persons on either the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control Specially Designated Nationals List or the Terrorist Exclusion List. Should any change in circumstances pertaining to this certification occur at any time, the organization will notify OPM's Office of CFC Operations immediately.

As reflected in the certification, organizations are required to check these lists annually in connection with the CFC application process, and may be required to additionally check the lists during the campaign year if the organization has reason to believe that an employee or recipient of funds commits or supports terrorist acts.

Checking the Lists and Eliminating False Matches

A current version of the OFAC SDN is available in a variety of formats, including PDF and ASCII versions, on the Department of the Treasury internet website together with instructions on how to use the list, how to eliminate false matches, and a hotline telephone number for use in the event of a match. If there appears to be a match after following OFAC guidelines, organizations may contact the OFAC hotline by calling 1 800 540 6322 to determine whether a potential match is actually valid. Up to date guidance is available at

The TEL is available on the Department of State internet web site and is text searchable. Links to these websites, as well as the link to the United Nations list, can be accessed through the CFC website.

The relevant lists and current links to their webpages are as follows:

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Terms "Knowingly," "Employ Individuals," and "Contribute Funds"

Executive Order 13224 prohibits all persons, including non-profit entities, from contributing funds to or receiving services from terrorists, and does not include a safe harbor for unknowing acts. However, OPM has included the term "knowingly" in the certification to protect organizations against potential charges of false certification under CFC regulations where OPM determines that an organization in fact has exercised appropriate care to check the lists, but nonetheless fails to identify an employee or organization on the lists. Intentional ignorance regarding the lists is not an excuse for not knowing that an employee or organization is on one of the lists.

As used in the certification, the term "employ individuals" applies to current full-time and part-time compensated employees of the organization and does not apply to volunteers.

The term "contribute funds" applies to the immediate recipient of funds from the organization; the requirement does not flow down to the next recipient of funds, nor does it include the furnishing of CFC-financed commodities to the ultimate beneficiaries of Federal donor contributions, such as recipients of food, medical care, loans, shelter, etc., unless the CFC organization has reason to believe that one or more of these next recipients or beneficiaries commits or supports terrorist acts. OPM does not intend the term "contribute funds" to encompass the procurement of goods or services by the organization that are purchased in the ordinary course of business, such as for utilities, rents, office supplies, etc., unless the organization has reason to believe that a vendor of such goods or services commits or supports terrorist acts.

National Organizations' Affiliates, Chapters or Member organizations

If a National CFC organization contributes funding to an affiliate (including a chapter or other member) of its organization, and the affiliate participates in the CFC locally, the National organization is not required to check the affiliate or the affiliate's employees or fund recipients against the lists, as the certification would be part of the affiliate's CFC application. If the affiliate has not applied to participate in the CFC, and the National organization contributes funding to the affiliate, then the National organization is required to check the name of its affiliate against the lists in the same manner as it would check any other organization to which it contributes funds. However, it would not be required to check the affiliate's employees or organizations the affiliate funds, unless the CFC organization has reason to believe that one or more of these next recipients or beneficiaries commits or supports terrorist acts. Alternatively, the organization can obtain the CFC anti-terrorism certification from its affiliate, in which the affiliate certifies that it has checked its employees and organizations it funds against the required lists.

What to Do If a Match is Established after Eliminating False Matches

If the applicant organization determines that, as of the date on which its application is being submitted, an employee or recipient is included on one of the lists, the organization may not complete the certification and will be denied participation in the CFC. If an organization determines at any time subsequent to certification and application to the CFC that it employs or contributes funds to entities or persons on one of the lists, it must notify the OCFCO immediately. OPM will take such steps as it deems appropriate under the circumstances, including but not limited to notifying terrorism investigative and/or enforcement authorities, suspending disbursement of CFC funds not yet disbursed, retracting (to the extent practicable) CFC funds already disbursed, and suspending or expelling the organization from the CFC.

If you have any questions on this guidance, please contact the OCFCO at 202-606-2564 or by e-mail at

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