Ethics Rules & Regulations
- Basic Obligations of Public Service
- Government-wide Ethics Laws
- Government-wide Ethics Regulations on Impartiality
- Procurement Integrity Act
BASIC OBLIGATIONS OF PUBLIC SERVICE
To ensure public confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, Executive Order 12674 (as amended) forms the framework for the ethical behavior required and expected of all Federal employees. As a condition of public service, you are expected to adhere to these fundamental principles of ethical behavior:
- Public service is a public trust, requiring you to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.
- You shall not hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty.
- You shall not engage in financial transactions using non-Public Government information or allow improper use of such information to further any private interest.
- You shall not, except pursuant to such reasonable expectations as are provided by regulation, solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary value from any person or entity seeking official action from, doing business with, or conducting activities regulated by BOR, or whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of your duties.
- You shall make no unauthorized commitments or promise of any kind purported to bind the Government.
- You shall put forth honest effort in the performance of your duties.
- You shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with your official Government duties and responsibilities.
- You shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.
- You shall satisfy in good faith your obligations as citizens, including all just financial obligations, especially those such as Federal, state, or local taxes that are imposed by law.
- You shall adhere to all laws and regulations that provide equal opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), parental status, national origin, age, disability, family medical history or genetic information, political affiliation, and military service.
- You shall not use your public office for private gain.
- You shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.
- You shall protect and conserve Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activity.
- You shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that you are violating the law, the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 C.F.R. part 2635), the DOI Supplemental Ethics Regulation (5 C.F.R. part 3501), or Executive Order 12674.
GOVERNMENT-WIDE ETHICS LAWS
These laws (18 U.S.C. §§ 201-209) apply to all Federal employees and each carries criminal penalties for non-compliance. They also serve as a basis for the ethics regulations known as the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 C.F.R. part 2635).
Bribery of Public Officials Prohibition (18 U.S.C. § 201)
This statute prohibits a Federal employee from directly or indirectly receiving or soliciting anything of value in exchange for being influenced in the performance or non-performance of any official act, including giving testimony, or in exchange for committing fraud.
Restrictions on Compensated Representational Activities (18 U.S.C. § 203)
This statute prohibits a Federal employee, other than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duties, from directly or indirectly seeking or accepting compensation for representational services (rendered either personally or by another) before a Federal court or Government agency in a particular matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Representational services include any communications on behalf of another party with the intent to influence the Government. There are limited exceptions, such as representing oneself or one’s immediate family or a person or estate for which the employee acts as a fiduciary, but not where the employee has participated officially or has official responsibility.
Restrictions on Acting as an Agent or Attorney (18 U.S.C. § 205)
This statute prohibits a Government employee, other than in the proper discharge of his or her official duties, from acting as an agent or attorney for anyone before a Federal court or Government agency, whether compensated or not. There are limited exceptions, such as for representing other Federal employees in personnel matters; representing a not-for-profit organization in certain matters, if a majority of its members are current Federal employees or their spouses or dependent children; representing oneself or one’s immediate family or a person or estate for which the employee acts as a fiduciary, but not where the employee has participated officially or has official responsibility; or acting as an agent or attorney, in certain matters, for a tribal organization or inter-tribal consortium to which the employee is assigned under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act or 25 U.S.C. § 48, after advising the Government, in writing, of any personal and substantial involvement the employee has had in connection with the matter.
We advise any employee who seeks to use a limited exception in the statute to first seek advice from an Associate Ethics Counselor.
Post-Government Employment Restrictions (18 U.S.C. § 207)
This statute does not bar an individual, regardless of rank or position, from accepting employment with any private or public employer. However, it does impose restrictions on certain communications and appearances that a former employee may make as a representative of a third party back to the Federal Government. These restrictions are explained more fully in the “Restrictions on Post-Government Employment” section of this website.
Financial Conflicts of Interest Prohibition (18 U.S.C. § 208)
This statute prohibits a Federal employee from participating personally and substantially, on behalf of the Federal Government, in any particular matter in which he or she has a financial interest. In addition, the statute provides that the financial interests of certain other “persons” are treated as the employee’s interests. These other persons include the employee’s spouse; minor child; general partner; an organization in which he or she serves as a partner; an organization in which he or she serves as an officer, trustee, partner, or employee; and any person or organization with whom the employee is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning future employment.
There are limited regulatory exemptions authorized by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), an exception for certain financial interests arising solely out of Native American birthrights, and a very limited waiver authority.
Supplementation of Federal Salary Prohibition (18 U.S.C. § 209)
This statute prohibits a Federal employee from receiving any salary, or any contribution to or supplementation of salary; or anything of value from an outside source as compensation for services he or she is expected to perform as a Government employee.
GOVERNMENT-WIDE ETHICS REGULATION ON IMPARTIALITY
Impartiality in Performing Official Duties Due to Personal or Business Relationships – 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502
You must take appropriate steps to avoid any appearance of loss of impartiality in the performance of your official duties. An employee should not participate in a particular matter involving specific parties if it is likely to the affect the financial interests of a member of the employee’s household, or if the employee knows that he or she has a “covered relationship” with a party or party representative in such matter, and where the employee believes that a reasonable person would question his or her impartiality in the matter.
The term “covered relationship” includes a wide variety of personal and business relationships that an employee of his or her family members may have with outside parties. An employee whose impartiality could be questioned should consult with his or her Associate Ethics Counselor before taking official action in a particular matter. An employee should follow this same procedure if the performance of his or her official duties would affect the financial interests of a friend, relative, or person with whom he or she is affiliated in a non-Federal capacity.
PROCUREMENT INTEGRITY ACT – 41 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2107 and 48 C.F.R. §§ 3-104.1-.9
You may not disclose “contractor bid or proposal information” or “source selection information” other than as provided for by law.
If you participate in a procurement in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $250,000), you must report to your supervisor and Associate Ethics Counselor any contacts regarding potential employment from any contractor that submits an offer on the procurement. You must also reject the possibility of employment by that contractor or disqualify yourself from further participation in DOI matters involving the procurement unless you obtain approval to participate from your Ethics Counselor.
If you are serving in one of seven specified positions (procuring contracting officer, program manager, source selection authority, etc.) or make one of seven specified types of decisions (award a contract, establish overhead rates, approve issuance of a payment, etc.), on a contract over $10 million, you may not accept compensation (as an employee, consultant, officer, or director) from the contractor for one year. Consult your Associate Ethics Counselor for additional information on the Procurement Integrity Act.