United States Office of Government Ethics, Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch

After Leaving Government

An executive branch employee may be affected by conflict of interest restrictions after leaving Government service (or after leaving certain high-level positions). As highlighted in the bullet points below, there are several legal authorities that address post-Government employment, and certain authorities contain more than one restriction. A particular former employee can be affected by more than one post-Government restriction.

Caveat: The bullet points are not comprehensive. Ethics officials and others should consult the legal authorities, regulatory guidance, and relevant legal opinions. In general, former executive branch employees should seek advice from the Designated Agency Ethics Official or another ethics official at the agency in which the individual formerly served.

 

Restrictions pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 207

  • A former employee is generally prohibited from having contact with an employee of any Federal agency or court, on behalf of another person or entity, concerning an official matter involving a specific party with which the former employee was involved as a Government employee. 18 U.S.C. § 207(a).
  • A former high-level employee is generally prohibited from having contact with an employee of his or her former Federal agency (and perhaps certain officials at other agencies), on behalf of another person or entity, concerning any official matter. 18 U.S.C. §§ 207(c) and (d).
  • A former employee may be prohibited from using non-public information concerning an ongoing trade or treaty negotiation to provide certain assistance to another person or entity concerning the negotiation (even though the assistance does not involve contact with a Government employee). 18 U.S.C. § 207(b).
  • A former high-level employee may be prohibited from representing or assisting in representing a foreign government or foreign political party (even though the assistance does not involve contact with a Government employee). 18 U.S.C. § 207(f).

 

Additional Restrictions pursuant to Executive Order 13770

  • A former political appointee is prohibited from, within 5 years after terminating employment as an appointee in any executive agency in which appointed to serve, engaging in lobbying activities with respect to that agency. E.O. 13770, sec. 1, par. 1.
  • A former political appointee is prohibited from engaging in lobbying activities with respect to any covered executive branch official or non-career Senior Executive Service appointee for the remainder of the Administration. E.O. 13770, sec. 1, par. 3.
  • A former political appointee is prohibited from engaging in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party which would require the appointee to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended. E.O. 13770, sec. 1, par. 4.

 

Restrictions on Accepting Compensation or Employment

  • A former employee may be prohibited from sharing in profits earned by others if the money was earned from having contact with the Government on behalf of third parties (e.g., clients) while the former employee was still in Government. 18 U.S.C. § 203.
  • A former employee may be prohibited from accepting compensation from a contractor if the former employee served in a Government position or made a Government decision involving more than $10,000,000 given to that contractor. 41 U.S.C. § 2104 (formerly 41 U.S.C. § 423).
  • A retired member of the uniformed services may not accept employment (or compensation for that employment) from a foreign government unless he or she first obtains approval from the Department of State. The Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

 

Other Restrictions

A former executive branch employee may be subject to additional restrictions imposed by agency-specific laws. Also, every former employee must ensure that his or her post-Government activities are in compliance with other requirements that may apply without regard to the individual's employment by the Government. For example, if a former employee will serve as the agent of a foreign principal, the individual must comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

 

The information on this page is not a substitute for individual advice. Agency ethics officials should be consulted about specific situations.