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

Financial Conflicts of Interest

The public may lose confidence in the integrity of Government if it perceives that an employee's Government work is influenced by personal interests or by payments from an outside source. An executive branch employee's Government work may have the potential to benefit the employee personally, affect the financial interests of the employee's family, or involve individuals or organizations with which the employee has some past, present, or future connection away from the employee's Government job. Separately, an employee might be offered a payment from a non-Federal source, such as a former employer, either before or after entering Government. Accordingly:

  • An employee may be disqualified from working on a particular Government matter.
  • An employee may be prohibited from holding specified property.
  • An employee may be prohibited from accepting a payment from a non-Federal source.
Analyzing Potential Conflicts of Interest
To assist ethics officials in preventing conflicts of interest, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics has developed a series of guidance documents that provide conflicts analyses for various types of employment interests, investment interests, and liabilities.

Current Government Employees
Executive branch employees have a continuing obligation to take the actions necessary to comply with ethics laws and regulations concerning conflicting financial interests and impartiality. 

Employees Entering Government
Individuals who join the executive branch may be required to take actions, either before becoming an employee or shortly thereafter, in order to comply with ethics laws and regulations concerning conflicting financial interests and impartiality. 

Employees Leaving Government
In general, an executive branch employee is free to seek post-Government employment, but the employee may need to be disqualified from working on some Government matters while doing so.

Resolving Conflicts of Interest
There are a number of ways to deal with a conflict of interest arising under the criminal conflict of interest statute, 18 U.S.C. § 208.