Seeking Non-Federal Employment

The “seeking employment” rules are more restrictive than most Federal employees realize. The financial interests of any entity with which you are negotiating or have an arrangement concerning future employment are deemed to be the same as your own purposes of the criminal conflict of interest rules. There may be criminal or administrative penalties if you participate in any DOI matters that affect the financial interests of a prospective employer. Furthermore, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) interprets most forms of communication regarding prospective employment with a non-Federal source (other than requesting a job application) to be seeking employment. You must receive a written authorization or waiver before you participate in any particular matter at DOI that affects the financial interests of a prospective employer. Such authorizations or waivers are only granted in limited circumstances.

Crowdsourced funding or “crowdfunding” is the practice of soliciting contributions or services from a large group of people (i.e., the online community – platforms such as GoFundMe, GiveSmart, IndieGoGo, or Kickstarter). While crowdsourced funding is not strictly prohibited by the gift rules, the nature of this type of fundraising is complex and demands that extra care be taken to ensure that BOR employees do not solicit or accept prohibited gifts. For example, the gift rules apply equally to crowdsourced donations. Specifically, BOR employees cannot solicit or accept gifts from prohibited sources or given because of their official position, unless a relevant exception applies. Evaluating whether a crowdsourced donation is given because of your official position or from a prohibited source, or whether such exception applies, can be complex. Therefore, BOR employees must work closely with their AECs to determine whether crowdsourced donations were given by a prohibited source or because of their official position, and, if so, to determine whether any exception to the gift rule applies.

You are no longer seeking employment when either you or the prospective employer rejects the possibility of employment and all discussions regarding possible employment have terminated. You are also no longer seeking employment if two months pass after you send an unsolicited resume or employment proposal and you receive no indication of interest. Any response to a prospective employer that defers discussions until the foreseeable future does not terminate employment discussions.

Special Note: The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (STOCK Act) requires public financial disclosure report (OGE Form 278e) filers 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. An employee who files such a notification statement also must file with the agency’s ethics official a recusal statement whenever there is a conflict of interest or appearance of a conflict of interest with the entity (18 U.S.C. § 208 and C.F.R. §§ 2635.601-607).

Last Updated: 11/7/22