Treasury Seeks Comments on Revised Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines for Charities

On Dec. 5 the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a revised version of its November 2002 Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities. The Treasury Department announcement requested public comment on the revisions by Feb. 1, but stated the revised guidelines are now operational. The 2005 version not only does not incorporate the Principles of International Charity, a proposed alternative to the earlier guidelines developed by a working group of nonprofit organizations and released in late 2004, but moves in the wrong direction by adding new and onerous requirements on nonprofits.

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Summary of 2005 Revisions to U.S. Department of the Treasury's Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines:

On December 5, 2005 the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released a revised version of its November 2002 Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities. The Treasury Department announcement requested public comment on the revisions by February 1, but said the revised Guidelines immediately replace the 2002 version. In other words, the revised Guidelines are now operational.

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Revised Nonprofit Anti-Terrorism Guidelines Expected This Week

This week the Treasury Department will likely release its revised anti-terrorism financing guidelines with broad implications for the nonprofit sector. The revision will likely emphasize that the guidelines are voluntary. It will also urge nonprofits to check the terrorist watch lists when doing business with any group or individual.

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New CFC Rule Does Not Mandate List Checking or Compliance with Treasury Guidelines

On November 7, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) withdrew a regulation that required all nonprofits participating in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the federal government's workplace charitable giving program, to screen employees and donation recipients for possible terrorist ties. The new final rule, which applies to 2006 CFC applicants, requires participating charities instead to certify that they are in compliance with existing anti-terrorist financing laws. OPM's explanation of the new rule notes that "OPM does not mandate that applicants check the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list or the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL)."

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Final Rule on Anti-Terrorist Certification for Charities Is Just First Step

Washington, DC (November 11, 2005)--The Office of Personnel Management withdrew a regulation this week that required nonprofits participating in the Combined Federal Campaign--the federal government's workplace charitable giving program--to screen employees and donation recipients for possible terrorist ties. The new final rule, which applies to 2006 CFC applicants, instead requires participating charities to certify that they are in compliance with existing anti-terrorist financing laws.

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OMB Watch Report on Charity and the War on Terror

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, federal measures intended to cut off terrorism funding have imposed undue burdens on the nonprofit sector. An OMB Watch report released at the end of October, Safeguarding Charity in the War on Terror, addresses the unbalanced anti-terrorist financing regulations and guidelines that, according to the report, "lack a basic understanding of how nonprofits function, and ultimately do not help -- and may even hinder -- the global war on terror." The report then goes on to call for improving the current system, so that nonprofit organizations and foundations can pursue legitimate charitable activities.

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Ruling on Material Support of Terrorist Organizations Mixed Blessing

A U.S. court ruled that key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act targeting material support of terrorist organizations remain unconstitutionally vague despite recent revisions by Congress. The "material support" statutes, particularly troubling to nonprofit organizations, prohibited U.S. citizens or organizations from providing material support or resources to designated "foreign terrorist organizations," regardless of the nature or intent of the support. In the 42-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins concluded that "the terms 'training' and 'expert advice or assistance' in the form of 'specialized knowledge' and 'service' are impermissibly vague under the Fifth Amendment."

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Panel Explores Threats to Charity in the Post-9/11 Regulatory Environment

On June 14 the Georgetown Public Policy Institute's Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership (CPNL) hosted Safeguarding Charity in the War on Terror, a panel discussion on the impact of government anti-terrorism programs on the nonprofit sector. A diverse group of scholars and practitioners charged that the government's campaign against terrorist financing has proven ineffective, inefficient, and harmful to philanthropy and charitable programs.

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Summary of Georgetown Panel: Safeguarding Charity in the War on Terror

On June 14 the Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership (CPNL) hosted Safeguarding Charity in the War on Terror, a panel discussion on the post-9/11 regulatory environment and its effects on the nonprofit sector. The discussion highlighted the ineffective, inefficient, harmful nature of the new administrative burdens nonprofits face in their government-prescribed role of investigators in the war against terror.

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OMB Watch Submits Comments on Combined Federal Campaign Anti-Terrorist Certification

OMB Watch has filed comments on the Combined Federal Campaign's (CFC) proposed anti-terrorist financing certification for fiscal year 2006 (FY06) that support CFC's shift away from its FY05 requirement that participating charities check employee names against government terrorist watch lists. The CFC is the federal government's workplace charitable giving program. The comments suggest ways the proposed certification can be improved to provide clearer guidance and suggest that CFC develop procedures for organizations to cure any noncompliance discovered during the program year. OMB Watch is one of 12 nonprofit plaintiffs that have challenged the current certification in federal court

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