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OGC: Standards of Conduct : Conflicts of Interest


Conflicts of Interest

Conflicting Financial Interests

Criminal Rule: You may not do government work on a particular matter that will affect the financial interest of:

  • You
  • Your spouse
  • Your minor children
  • Your general partner
  • Organizations with which you're negotiating or have arrangements for future employment, or
  • Any organization for which you serve as an employee, officer, director, trustee, or general partner

If you think you may have a conflicting financial interest, consult your DoD ethics official immediately to determine the appropriate remedy.

Bryan, a DoD procurement officer, is about to award a contract for new computers. His wife, Deanna, owns a computer sales business, which has bid on the contract. Bryan may not participate in the contract award decision, since the decision will affect his wife's financial interests.

Bribery and Graft

Rule: You may not seek or accept anything of value, other than your salary, for being influenced in your official duties.

Commercial Dealings Between DoD Employees

Rule: You may not knowingly solicit or make solicited sales to personnel who are junior in rank, grade, or position (or their families). This includes insurance, stocks, real estate, cosmetics, household supplies, and other such goods and services.

Sue operates a cosmetics sales business out of her home after hours. During the day she is a supervisor at DoD. She may not make solicited sales to her DoD subordinates on the job or after work by calling them at home.

Representation of Others in Matters Affecting Government

Rule: You generally may not represent anyone outside the Government before a Federal agency or court, or share in any compensation for such representations made by anybody else, if the Government is involved in the particular matter.

  • There are limited exceptions. There are special exceptions for consultants. Check with your ethics official.

Supplementation of Federal Salary

Rule: You may not accept compensation from any source except the Government for your services as a Government employee. This rule does not apply, if: you are a "special Government employee" - i.e., a consultant, or you serve without compensation, or your supplementation is a result of a public service award.


Impartiality in Performing Official Duties

Rule: Maintain your impartiality. Don't participate in any particular DoD matter if:

  • the matter is likely to affect the financial interest of a member of your household, or a person with whom you have a "covered relationship" is involved in the matter, and
  • a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts could question your impartiality.

Who may be in a "covered relationship"?

  • A member of your household or a relative with whom you're close,
  • Someone with whom you have or seek to have a business relationship, other than a routine consumer transaction,
  • An organization (other than a political party) in which you actively participate,
  • Someone with whom you had, within the last year, a close business relationship, such as partnership or employment, or
  • Someone with whom your spouse, parent, or dependent child has (or seeks to have) a close business relationship, such as partnership or employment.
A senior VP from Blatz Corp. recently resigned from Blatz to become a senior official in DoD. Shortly after his arrival, the official's office is tasked to decide whether or not to renew Blatz's contract with DoD. Because the senior official was employed by Blatz within the last year, he may not make the decision

Misuse of Position

Rule: You may not use, or permit the use of, your Government position, title, or any authority associated with your office:

  • To induce or coerce another person to provide any benefit to you or anyone with whom you are affiliated
  • A senior VP from Blatz Corp. recently resigned from Blatz to become a senior official in DoD. Shortly after his arrival, the official's office is tasked to decide whether or not to renew Blatz's contract with DoD. Because the senior official was employed by Blatz within the last year, he may not make the decision
  • The General Counsel has been asked by his college to serve on the Alumni Association. He may serve in his personal capacity, but may not allow his position as General Counsel to be used on the college letterhead or other promotional literature.
  • To imply that DoD or the Government endorses personal activities
  • To endorse any product, service, or enterprise, except as provided by statute or regulation
The General Counsel has been asked by his college to serve on the Alumni Association. He may serve in his personal capacity, but may not allow his position as General Counsel to be used on the college letterhead or other promotional literature.

Use of Government Resources

Rule: Use Federal Government equipment and property, including communications systems, only for official purposes or authorized purposes as approved by your supervisor.

Rule: Use official time in an honest effort to perform official duties, and don't ask subordinates to perform tasks outside their official duties.


Fundraising

Rule: You may raise funds for organizations in your personal capacity, but you may not use your official title, position, or authority to fundraise, nor may you solicit subordinates or prohibited sources.

Oscar, who is the deputy director of a DoD office, is in charge of raising funds for his son's Little League team. Oscar may not ask his subordinates to contribute.

Teaching, Speaking, and Writing

Rule: You may accept payment for teaching, speaking, or writing that is unrelated to your official duties and that was not prepared on official time. If your employment by DoD is identified, you must make a disclaimer.

Stu, an ethics attorney at DoD, has been offered $1500 to teach a 1-day course on Federal ethics to employees at Big Contractor, Inc. Because the topic relates to his official duties, he may not accept the compensation.

Outside Activities

Rule: If you file a financial disclosure report, you need your supervisor's prior written approval before you engage in business activity or employment with a DoD "prohibited source" (see page 2). Presidential appointees and certain non-career employees have additional restrictions – consult your ethics counselor.

Rule: You may not have outside employment or activities that would materially impair your ability to perform your duties.

Jill, who tests new computers for the office, wants to work on weekends for the vendor of those computers. Since her outside employment would cause a conflict of interest with her Government duties, she should not accept the job.

Political Activities

Most Federal civilian employees may actively participate in political campaigns and other partisan activities. However, they may not engage in such activities on duty, or in any Federal workplace, vehicle, or while in uniform.

While the Hatch Act loosened restrictions on political activity for most Federal civilian employees, Federal laws still limit the political activities of military personnel, law enforcement, national security, and career SES employees. Moreover, by policy within DoD, employees appointed by the President and employees appointed by the Secretary to non-career SES positions may not engage in any activity that could be interpreted as associating DoD with any partisan cause or issue.

If you plan to engage in any partisan political activity, you should consult your ethics counselor.


Employment Issues

Seeking Employment

Rule: If you are seeking non-Federal employment (e.g., sending resumes to select employers), you may not do Government work on a particular matter that will affect the financial interests of any of your prospective employers. You must give a written disqualification statement to your supervisor.

Janelle, a procurement specialist, is doing work as a Government employee on a contract worth $500,000. She is offered an interview for a job by the contractor. Janelle must disqualify or recuse herself and inform her supervisor and ethics official.
Post-Government Employment

Rule: Always consult your ethics counselor before separating from the Government. He or she will advise you on the restrictions that will apply to your activities in the private sector in light of your specific duties and level of responsibility as a Government employee.


Official Travel Benefits

Benefits That You May Keep
  1. Frequent Flyer benefits earned on official travel such as points or miles, upgrades, or access to carrier clubs or facilities. These benefits must have been obtained under the same terms as those at no additional cost to the government. They may be used for: official travel (tickets) or upgrades (to premium class other than first class), when on official travel.
  2. Benefits (including frequent flyer miles or rebates) resulting from use of personal credit card or affinity card when use of a personal credit card is authorized for such purchases.
  3. Benefits given for voluntarily surrendering your airplane seat while TDY for a seat on a later flight. You may volunteer ONLY if the delay does not adversely affect your official duties and does not result in additional cost to the Government.
  4. On-the-spot upgrades in transportation or accommodation, if generally available
  5. Benefits such as "Gold Card Memberships and any resulting benefits.
  6. Life insurance benefits offered to you by travel management contractors.
Benefits That the Government Keeps
  1. Vouchers given to compensate you for being involuntarily bumped from a plane.
  2. Prizes won, while TDY, in contests closed to the general public.
  3. Gifts given to or won by you while TDY at a conference, hotel, or while renting a car, where you have not taken any affirmative action, including:
    • Door Prizes
    • Buy-one-get-one-free vouchers
    • Sweepstake prizes

Sources of Further Information

If you have further questions, consult a DoDEA ethics counselor in the Office of the General Counsel. Additional information is available in:

  1. Standards of Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch
    The U.S. Office of Government Ethics has developed a comprehensive set of regulations to assist Federal employees with their ethics questions. This is a primary source of guidance on ethics and standards of conduct.
  2. DoD 5500.7-R, the Joint Ethics Regulation ("JER")
    The JER contains supplemental regulations for DoD employees.