The Ethics Law and Programs Office 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 Office advises on both personal gifts, such as invitations to events, and gifts to the agency, such as 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.
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.
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.
The Office 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 Office staff to identify potential conflicts and to advise employees on corrective measures.
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is a convenient means for Federal employees to donate to charities. The CFC is the only authorized solicitation of employees in the Federal workplace on behalf of charitable organizations.