Financial Conflicts of Interest and Impartiality

The public may lose confidence in the integrity of Government if it perceives that your Service work is influenced by your personal interests or by payments from an outside source. Your Service work may have the potential to benefit you personally, or affect the financial interests of your family, or individuals or organizations with which you have a connection away from your job. The ethics rules include two key statues and regulations that address these situations.

Conflicting Financial Interests (18 U.S.C. 208): This criminal statute prohibits you from participating personally and substantially on behalf of the Federal Government, in any particular matter in which you have a financial interest, or certain other people have a financial interest. These other persons include your spouse, minor child, general partner, an organization in which you are an officer, trustee, partner or employee, and any person or organization with whom you are negotiating with or have an arrangement concerning future employment.

Appearance of Impartiality (5 CFR 2635.502): There may be circumstances other than those covered by 18 U.S.C. § 208, above, in which you should not perform official duties in order to avoid an appearance of loss of impartiality. This regulation contains two disqualification provisions addressing appearance issues.

  1. Personal and business relationships: This provision requires you to obtain authorization from the Service’s Deputy Ethics Counselor before participating in certain government matters where your impartiality is likely to be questioned. The matters covered by this provision include those:
    • Involving specific parties, such as contracts, grants, or investigations, that are likely to affect the financial interests of members of your household, or
    • In which persons with whom you have specific relationships are parties or represent parties. This would include, for example, matters involving your recent employers, employers of your spouse or minor children, or anyone with whom you have or seek a business or financial relationship.
  2. Extraordinary payments from former employers: This provision restricts your participation in certain matters involving your former employers. If a former employer gave you an "extraordinary payment" in excess of $10,000 prior to entering Federal service, this provision bars you from participating for two years in matters in which that former employer is a party or represents a party. For example, a $25,000 payment to you, voted on an ad hoc basis by a Board of Directors would be an "extraordinary payment". A routine severance payment made under an established benefit plan would not.

For additional information see:

Financial Disclosure Resources: