Conflicts Analysis & Resolution

The analysis and resolution of conflicts of interests are key to agencies and employees managing and minimizing the risk of ethical failure. A thorough analysis is the first step in ensuring that agencies and employees take appropriate steps to remedy a potential conflict of interest. By resolving potential conflicts before they happen, ethics official help ensure that their agencies’ decisions are made in the public’s interest and are not unfairly influenced by personal financial interests.

Responsibilities of the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO)

By analyzing and resolving potential or actual conflicts of interest, ethics officials assist employees in fulling their responsibility to endeavor to act at all times in the public’s interest and avoid losing impartiality or appearing to lose impartiality in carrying out their official duties.

The DAEO, acting directly or through other officials, takes appropriate action to understand and resolve an employee’s conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest through directed recusals, divestitures, reassignments, waivers, authorizations, and other appropriate means. Selection of the best remedy depends on the correct analysis of the potential conflict of interest.

The ability to do a thorough and accurate conflicts analysis is required for all aspects of the ethics program, including the review of financial disclosures, advising and training employees, assisting the appropriate agency officials in enforcement action, and advising management regarding ethics risks.


Key Legal Authorities


Key Advisories

For relevant advisories, search the Legal Research Collection


Resources

Analyzing Potential Conflicts of Interest

This series of guidance documents provides conflicts analyses for various types of employment interests, investment interests, and liabilities.

Legal Research Collection

The legal research collection provides links to resources that can aid in performing a conflicts analysis, such as all of OGE’s Legal Advisories, rulemaking preambles, legislative histories, Department of Justice legal opinions, and court opinions.

PAS Nominee Ethics Agreement Guide (Word)

This document provides guidance to agency reviewers who draft ethics agreements for nominees to positions requiring Senate confirmation (“PAS nominees”). Ethics officials can, in certain cases, apply the conflicts analysis within this guide to other employees, as well.

List of conflict of interest remedies and exemptions (PDF)

This reference guide lists remedies and exemptions with the corresponding regulatory citation.

Qualified Blind and Diversified Trust Documents

This page provides links to model documents for qualified and diversified trusts, as well as information on the qualified trust program.


Agency Practices

As the supervising ethics office, OGE has insight into the methods, procedures, and practices of over 130 agency ethics programs and seeks to highlight these practices as a resource for improving ethics programs across the executive branch. The following practices are gathered from OGE program reviews, agency responses to Annual Agency Ethics Program Questionnaires and data calls, and OGE summits and conferences. While no single approach is one-size-fits-all, ethics officials may find other agencies’ practices useful to the effective and efficient administration of their own ethics program.

  • Work with senior leaders and/or their scheduling team to review calendar items to identify potential ethics issues and provide ethics guidance, as needed.
  • Develop and adapt advice templates for recurring topics, such as post-employment guidance, seeking employment, etc.
  • Offboard employees with post-employment guidance meetings and reminders to public filers of the requirement to file a termination report.
  • Memorialize advice and counsel on an agency database or shared drive. The repository ensures consistency of advice and improves efficiency in researching new questions. It is also used to identify frequent questions that might merit additional training, and to track the overall volume of inquiries. The repository can be used to assign and manage work flow.
  • Establish an ethics@agency.gov mailbox to serve as a central address where employees can send ethics questions.
  • Automate the workflow of outside employment requests with fillable electronic forms, if your agency has a supplemental regulation for outside employment. The automation can include an automated workflow, where approval of one office automatically generates a request for review by the next office.