These laws (18 U.S.C. §§ 201-209) apply to all Federal employees and each carries criminal penalties for non-compliance. They also serve as a basis for the ethics regulations known as the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 C.F.R. part 2635.
This statute prohibits a Federal employee from directly or indirectly receiving or soliciting anything of value in exchange for being influenced in the performance or non-performance of any official act, including giving testimony, or in exchange for committing fraud.
This statute prohibits a Federal employee, other than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duties, from directly or indirectly seeking or accepting compensation for representational services (rendered either personally or by another) before a Federal court or Government agency in a particular matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Representational services include any communications on behalf of another party with the intent to influence the Government. There are limited exceptions, such as for representing oneself or one’s immediate family or a person or estate for which the employee acts as a fiduciary, but not where the employee has participated officially or has official responsibility.
This statute prohibits a Government employee, other than in the proper discharge of his or her official duties, from acting as an agent or attorney for anyone before a Federal court or Government agency, whether compensated or not. There are limited exceptions, such as for representing other Federal employees in personnel matters; representing a not-for-profit organization in certain matters, if a majority of its members are current Federal employees or their spouses or dependent children; representing oneself or one's immediate family or a person or estate for which the employee acts as a fiduciary, but not where the employee has participated officially or has official responsibility; or acting as an agent or attorney, in certain matters, for a tribal organization or inter-tribal consortium to which the employee is assigned under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act
or 25 U.S.C. § 48
, after advising the Government, in writing, of any personal and substantial involvement the employee has had in connection with the matter.
We advise any employee who seeks to use a limited exception in the statute to first seek advice from an ethics counselor.
This statute does not bar an individual, regardless of rank or position, from accepting employment with any private or public employer. However, it does impose restrictions on certain communications and appearances that a former employee may make as a representative of a third party back to the Federal Government. These restrictions are explained more fully in the “Restrictions on Post-Government Employment” section of this Guide.
This statute prohibits a Federal employee from participating personally and substantially, on behalf of the Federal Government, in any particular matter in which he or she has a financial interest. In addition, the statute provides that the financial interests of certain other “persons” are treated as the employee’s interests. These other persons include the employee’s spouse; minor child; general partner; an organization in which he or she serves as an officer, trustee, partner, or employee; and any person or organization with whom the employee is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning future employment.
There are limited regulatory exemptions authorized by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), an exception for certain financial interests arising solely out of Native American birthrights, and a very limited waiver authority.
This statute prohibits a Federal employee from receiving any salary, or any contribution to or supplementation of salary; or anything of value from an outside source as compensation for services he or she is expected to perform as a Government employee.
Impartiality in Performing Official Duties Due to Personal or Business Relationships
- 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502
You must take appropriate steps to avoid any appearance of loss of impartiality in the performance of your official duties. An employee should not participate in a particular matter involving specific parties if it is likely to affect the financial interests of a member of the employee’s household, or if the employee knows that he or she has a “covered relationship” with a party or party representative in such matter, and where the employee believes that a reasonable person would question his or her impartiality in the matter.
The term “covered relationship” includes a wide variety of personal and business relationships that an employee or his or her family members may have with outside parties.
An employee whose impartiality could be questioned should consult with his or her ethics counselor before taking official action in a particular matter. An employee should follow this same procedure if the performance of his or her official duties would affect the financial interests of a friend, relative, or person with whom he or she is affiliated in a non-Federal capacity.