The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is tasked with fostering high ethical standards for executive branch employees and strengthening the public’s confidence that the government’s business is conducted with impartiality and integrity. OGE
- Maintains standards of ethical conduct civilian employees throughout the government
- Oversees a financial disclosure system
- Ensures that Executive Branch ethics programs are in compliance with laws and regulations
The conduct of executive branch employees is governed by criminal and civil statutes and an administrative code of conduct. These ethical regulations address bribery, illegal gratuities and “criminal conflict of interest”.
OGE handles topics including:
- Financial conflicts of interest and impartiality
- Gifts and payments
- Use of government position and resources
- Outside employment and activities
- Post government employment
Ethical considerations often arise when an individual leaves federal employment to work for a government contractor. Oftentimes, the departing federal employee is prohibited from working on matters they worked on while employed for the government. Depending on the nature of the individual’s role, post-employment restrictions may be permanent or temporary. OGE regulations restrict the types of communications and appearances an individual may have with the federal government after she joins the private sector if those communications are made with the intent to influence the government. In some circumstances, an individual may be restricted to working only “behind the scenes” on a government contract.
OGE does not enforce ethical standards. When ethics officials have information concerning a possible violation of a criminal statute, the employing/hiring agency coordinates with its office of Inspector General, or similar investigative unit, to ensure the matter is referred to the appropriate authority. A federal ethical violation may result in a criminal prosecution, corrective action, penalties and fines, or discipline against a federal employee.
If you need help navigating the complex federal ethical guidelines, talk with an experienced attorney who can guide you through this process. During an initial consultation, we can evaluate whether you may face employment restrictions, what those restrictions might be, and how to protect yourself.