Bureau of Reclamation Ethics Site

Leaving Government

Seeking Employment | Post-Employment

Seeking and Negotiating Employment

Generally, Federal employees are free to seek employment with any organization they wish. However, there are rules regarding *seeking or ** negotiating employment that must be followed for an employee to avoid placing themselves in a conflict of interest situation. Employees must disqualify themselves from participating in any official matter involving a person with whom he or she is seeking or negotiating employment. For most purposes, disqualification is accomplished by not participating in the matter. An employee who is seeking or negotiating employment with a person whose financial interests are not affected by the performance or nonperformance of his official duties has no obligation for disqualification.

In addition, once an employee has complied with the disqualification requirements applicable when seeking or negotiating employment with a prospective employer, he or she may accept meals, lodgings, transportation and other benefits that are customarily provided by a prospective employer in connection with bona fide employment discussions.

Notification of Post-Employment Negotiation or Agreement and Recusal Statement: The STOCK Act requires public filers (employees required to file the OGE-278 Public Financial Disclosure Report), to file a statement notifying their agency Ethics official of any negotiation for or agreement of future employment or compensation with a non-Federal entity within three business days after commencement of the negotiation or agreement (does not apply to outside activities). Use the Notification of Post-Employment or Compensation Negotiation or Agreement and Recusal Statement form, available below:


* Seeking Employment: An employee has begun seeking employment if the employee has directly or indirectly:

(1) Made an unsolicited communication to any person, or such person's agent or intermediary, regarding possible employment with that person. However, the employee has not begun seeking employment if that communication was for the sole purpose of requesting a job application; or
(2) Made a response, other than rejection, to an unsolicited communication from any person, or such person's agent or intermediary, regarding possible employment with that person.

** Negotiating Employment: Any bi-lateral discussions or communications with a person with a view toward possible employment.

For more information regarding seeking or negotiating employment, refer to the information below or contact your Ethics official.

Process for Separating Employees

Separating employees are required to certify that they understand and will comply with restrictions on post-employment activities. This certification is done by submitting Form 7-2662 to your servicing Ethics Counselor. For employees who will either work for another Federal agency or no longer be working there is no further requirement. For employees who will be employed by any entity that does business with the Federal government additional steps may be required, please see your Ethics Counselor when you begin seeking employment as indicated above.

Post-Employment Restrictions

Federal employees are subject to certain restrictions once they leave Federal service. The post-employment restrictions are contained in Title 18, U.S.C., Section 207.

18 US Code 207(a)(1) Permanent Ban on "Switching Sides." Former employees are subject to a lifetime ban on communicating to or appearing before the Government on behalf of their new employer or anyone else regarding specific party matters in which they participated personally and substantially during their entire government service.

18 US Code 207(a)(2) Two-Year Official Responsibility Provision. For two years after leaving Federal employment, former employees cannot make representational communications to or appearances before the Government regarding specific party matters that were pending under their official responsibility during their last year of government service.

18 US Code 207(b) One-Year Ban on Trade or Treaty Negotiation Activities. Former employees who participated in ongoing trade or treaty negotiations on behalf of the United States within the year preceding their departure cannot, for one year, represent, aid, or advise anyone based on information exempt from disclosure to which the employees had access.

18 US Code 203 Compensation Limitation. Former employees who join a law, accounting, or government relations firm cannot share in any bonus, profit sharing, or similar compensation derived from fees earned by the employee's new firm or partnership for representational services before the Government that were rendered during the former employee's period of government service.

41 US Code 2102 Disclosure of Procurement Information. Former employees cannot knowingly disclose contractor bid or proposal information or source selection information to anyone not authorized to receive such information.

41 US Code 2104 One-Year Ban on Contractor Compensation. Employees who worked on a contract in excess of $10 million cannot accept compensation from that contractor within one year after the employee: (1) served as the procuring contracting officer, source selection authority or evaluation board member, or chief of a financial or technical evaluation team; (2) served as a program manager, deputy program manager, or administrative contracting officer; or (3) personally made certain decisions such as awarding a contract, subcontract, modification, task or delivery order, establishing overhead, issuing payment, or settling a claim.

45 CFR Part 2 Testimony and Production of Documents in Proceedings where the United States is Not a Party. Former employees cannot provide testimony or produce documents in a Federal, state, local, or tribal judicial or administrative proceeding (or a state, local, or tribal legislative hearing) concerning information acquired during the course of their official duties or because of their former government position, unless authorized by the head of their respective OPDIV or, if a former employee of OS, the ASA. This requirement applies to requested or subpoenaed oral statements before a court or an adjudicative or investigatory body, as well as statements made in depositions, interrogatories, declarations, affidavits, or other formal participation.
18 U.S.C. 207(c) is an additional restriction that applies to "senior employees."*** This restriction is known as the "One Year Cooling Off Period." This restriction prohibits former senior employees from contacting their former agency, with the intent to influence, on the behalf of anyone seeking official action. This restriction applies to any matter pending with the agency and is not limited to particular matters regarding specific parties in which the former employee was personally and substantially involved.


* The term "particular matter involving specific parties" encompasses only matters that involve deliberation, decision, or action that is focused upon the interests of specific persons, or a discrete and identifiable class of persons. The phrase includes investigations, applications, controversies, claims, charges, arrests, or judicial or other proceedings. The phrase does not include general rulemaking, legislation, or policy issues that are directed to the interests of a large and diverse group of persons.

** The phrase "personally and substantially involved" means direct participation as a Government employee through decision, approval, disapproval, recommendation, the rendering of advice, investigation, or other direct participation in a matter. It includes the direct and active supervision of the participation of a subordinate in a matter. Substantiality is based not only on the effort devoted to a matter, but also on the importance of the effort. A crucial step in a matter may not involve a lot of time, but it may be substantial in terms of impact.

*** The term “Senior Employee” refers to employees in Executive Levels II through V; Uniformed Service Pay Grades O-7 or above; SES and employees in other Pay Systems with an Annual Rate of Basic Pay (Excluding Locality-Based Adjustments) at or above $158,554.50. 

Resources for Employees Leaving the Government:

  • Post-Employment Exit Packet – includes a Summary of Post-Employment Restrictions, information on who to contact with questions after you leave the government and helpful brochures from the Office of Government Ethics.


Last Updated: 1/2/18