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

Use of Government Position and Resources

An executive branch employee’s position, title, or authority may offer the opportunity to further the employee’s own private interests or the interests of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity. An employee may have access to nonpublic Government information that could benefit those interests, and will have access to Government property. The public may lose confidence in the integrity of Government if it perceives that an employee is using public office to serve a private interest, and it expects that Government information, property, and time (including the time of a subordinate) will be used to serve the public’s interests. Accordingly:

  • An employee is required to act impartially.
  • An employee may not make improper use of Government position, title, or authority.
  • An employee may not use Government property, nonpublic information, or time (including the time of a subordinate) for other than authorized purposes.
Remaining Impartial
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.

Endorsing Organizations, Products, or Persons
Executive branch employees may not use their Government positions to suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses organizations (including nonprofit organizations), products or people.

Use of Government Equipment or Property
Executive branch employees have a duty to protect and conserve Government property and may not use Government property, or allow its use, for any purpose other than the one that is authorized.

Use of Title or Agency’s Name
Except in limited circumstances, executive branch employees may not use the titles of their Government positions or an agency’s name to suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses the employees’ personal activities or the activities of another.

Use of Government Time
Executive branch employees must use official time to perform official duties only.  Except in limited circumstances, they are not allowed to perform activities other than official duties during their work day.  Employees may not direct or request subordinates to use official time to perform any activities other than official activities.

Use of Government Information
Executive branch employees may not use or allow the use of nonpublic Government information to further their own private interests or the private interests of others.