The Ethics Law and Programs Division staff provides guidance on issues including financial and non-financial conflicts of interest, outside activities including political activities, gifts, and post-employment restrictions. To ensure that advisory services are readily available, an attorney is assigned each day to answer telephone questions and e-mail inquiries.
The Ethics Law and Programs Division advises on both personal gifts, such as invitations to events, and gifts to the agency, such as travel gifts.
Key Forms: • Invitation Questionnaire • Travel Gift Questionnaire • NOAA Travel Gift Questionnaire • Supervisory Approval Form • CD-210 • SF-326 • CD-342
Useful Documents: • Gifts • Holiday Gifts • Government Gifts • Travel Gifts
Certain financial interests and personal and business relationships can create a conflict of interest, which may require an employee's disqualification from working on certain matters. The Conflicts page contains several useful handouts that describe situations in which conflicts of interest are likely to arise.
It is permissible to engage in outside employment and other activities provided the activity is not prohibited by law, will not require disqualification from important Government duties, and will not create the appearance of use of public office for private gain. Additionally, political appointees cannot serve as registered lobbyists. Please note that there are also restrictions on outside teaching, speaking, and writing. In some cases, employees may also serve with outside organizations in an official capacity.
Useful Documents: • Outside Activities • Use of Social Media • Outside Organizations • Contacting Government • Serving with an Outside Organization in an Official Capacity
The Hatch Act prohibits Federal employees from conducting political activities while on Government premises, using Government resources, or during duty hours. Furthermore, the Hatch Act bars Federal employees from running for partisan political office or from fundraising for a candidate or political party.
Useful Documents: • Political Activities • Political Activities for Intermittent Employees and SGEs • Political Activities In-Depth • Hatch Act Poster • Hatch Act Video
Federal employees are always allowed to conduct a job search. However, during the course of a job search, a Federal employee must disqualify him or herself from any matters affecting the financial interests of a prospective employer. After leaving Federal service, a former employee may not contact a Federal agency or Federal court regarding a particular matter involving specific-parties (such as a contract) on which he or she participated personally and substantially. The documents listed below contain information regarding the additonal restrictions that apply during a job search and after leaving Federal service.
Useful Documents: • Seeking Employment (1-page) • Post-Employment (1-page) • Seeking and Post-Employment In-Depth • Employee Notice: EDA's Post-employment Restriction • Notification of Employment Negotiation
The Division is also responsible for operating the Department’s financial disclosure program. Employees in senior positions, including procurement officials, are required annually to file a financial disclosure report, in which the employee provides information regarding investments, sources of income, liabilities, gifts, and non-Federal positions held. Some reports are available to the public (OGE Form 278e); others are confidential (OGE Form 450e). All are reviewed by the Ethics Law and Programs Division staff to identify potential conflicts and to advise employees on corrective measures.
Key Forms: • OGE Form 278e (Public Report - filed through INTEGRITY online filing system) • OGE Form 450 (Confidential Report) • OGE Form 450-A • OGE Form 201 • Notice of Employment Negotiations
Useful Documents: • Introduction to INTEGRITY • OGE Form 450 Helpful Hints
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is a convenient means for Federal employees to donate to charities. CFC fundraising events and activities must be approved in advance by the Ethics Law and Programs Division (except for payroll deductions). The use of appropriated funds, the solicitation of donations for use as prizes from outside organizations, and donations from CFC Charities require approval from an ethics official. However, kick-off events and rallies, sales/auctions of goods, and games of chance have been pre-approved and do not require further clearance.
Useful Documents: • CFC Fundraising Clearance • CFC Ethics FAQ