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

Endorsing Organizations, Products, or Persons
February 25, 2016

Executive branch employees may not use their Government positions to suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses an organization (including a nonprofit organization), product, service, or person.
 

Exceptions

An employee may use their Government position to endorse an organization, product, or person when:

  • statutory authority exists for an agency to promote products, services or organizations;
  • the agency documents compliance with agency requirements or standards; or
  • the agency gives recognition for achievement under an agency program of recognition for accomplishment in support of the agency's mission.
     

Example of prohibited conduct

A commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may not appear in a TV commercial in which she would endorse a blender produced by her former employer and would state that it has been found by the CPSC to be safe.
 

Example of permissible conduct

The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency may sign a letter to an oil company indicating that its refining operations are in compliance with Federal air quality standards even though he knows that the company routinely displays letters of this type in TV commercials portraying it as a "trustee of the environment for future generations."

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