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Excerpts from the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch and the Department of Health and Human Services Supplemental Agency Ethics Regulations


§ 2635.802 Conflicting outside employment and activities.

An employee shall not engage in outside employment or any other outside activity that conflicts with his official duties. An activity conflicts with an employee's official duties:

  1. If it is prohibited by statute or by an agency supplemental regulation; or
  2. If, under the standards set forth in §§ 2635.402 and 2635.502, it would require the employee's disqualification from matters so central or critical to the performance of his official duties that the employee's ability to perform the duties of his position would be materially impaired.

Employees are cautioned that even though an outside activity may not be prohibited under this section, it may violate other principles or standards set forth in this part or require the employee to disqualify himself from participation in certain particular matters under either subpart D or subpart E of this part.

Example 1: An employee of the Environmental Protection Agency has just been promoted. His principal duty in his new position is to write regulations relating to the disposal of hazardous waste. The employee may not continue to serve as president of a nonprofit environmental organization that routinely submits comments on such regulations. His service as an officer would require his disqualification from duties critical to the performance of his official duties on a basis so frequent as to materially impair his ability to perform the duties of his position.

Example 2: An employee of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration who was and is expected again to be instrumental in formulating new OSHA safety standards applicable to manufacturers that use chemical solvents has been offered a consulting contract to provide advice to an affected company in restructuring its manufacturing operations to comply with the OSHA standards. The employee should not enter into the consulting arrangement even though he is not currently working on OSHA standards affecting this industry and his consulting contract can be expected to be completed before he again works on such standards. Even though the consulting arrangement would not be a conflicting activity within the meaning of §2635.802, it would create an appearance that the employee had used his official position to obtain the compensated outside business opportunity and it would create the further appearance of using his public office for the private gain of the manufacturer.

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§ 5501.106(d)(4) Standard for approval.

Approval shall be granted unless it is determined that the outside employment or other outside activity is expected to involve conduct prohibited by statute or Federal regulation, including 5 CFR part 2635 and this part.

Note: The granting of approval for an outside activity does not relieve the employee of the obligation to abide by all applicable laws governing employee conduct nor does approval constitute a sanction of any violation. Approval involves an assessment that the general activity as described on the submission does not appear likely to violate any criminal statutes or other ethics rules. Employees are reminded that during the course of an otherwise approvable activity, situations may arise, or actions may be contemplated, that, nevertheless, pose ethical concerns.

Example 1: A clerical employee with a degree in library science volunteers to work on the acquisitions committee at a local public library. Serving on a panel that renders advice to a non-Federal entity is subject to prior approval. Because recommending books for the library collection normally would not pose a conflict with the typing duties assigned the employee, the request would be approved.

Example 2: While serving on the library acquisitions committee, the clerical employee in the preceding example is asked to help the library business office locate a missing book order. Shipment of the order is delayed because the publisher has declared bankruptcy and its assets, including inventory in the warehouse, have been frozen to satisfy the claims of the Internal Revenue Service and other creditors. The employee may not contact the Federal bankruptcy trustee to seek, on behalf of the public library, the release of the books. Even though the employee's service on the acquisitions committee had been approved, a criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. 205, would preclude any representation by a Federal employee of an outside entity before a Federal court or agency with respect to a matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.

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  • Page last reviewed: May 12, 2009
  • Page last updated: May 12, 2009
  • Content source: CDC and ATSDR Ethics Program
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