An executive branch employee must remain impartial when performing Government duties. A criminal conflict of interest statute, 18 U.S.C. § 208, prohibits certain activities by the employee when the activity affects the financial interest of the employee’s spouse or minor children or entities in which the employee serves in a position such as trustee or director. The situations described in the statute, however, are not the only ones that the employee must avoid. The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 C.F.R. part 2635) describe additional situations that raise the appearance of a loss of impartiality. The regulation also explains the steps the employee must take when those situations arise.
Situations that raise concerns about the appearance of a loss of impartiality
An employee is called upon to participate in a particular matter involving specific parties and the employee knows that:
Example: As part of his job with an executive branch agency, Phillip inspects manufacturing establishments for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Phillip’s brother has just purchased a plant that Phillip is assigned to inspect. If Phillip participates in the inspection, his impartiality may be questioned.
Actions that an employee must take in situations that raise “appearance” concerns
Note: The information on this page is not a substitute for individual advice. Agency ethics officials should be consulted.