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Ethics - Outside Activities

What about activities off the job, on my own time?

You cannot engage in outside employment or any outside activity if it conflicts with your Government job. It could be prohibited by a law or regulation that applies to the Department, or it might present a conflict because the outside activity would disqualify you from performing a significant amount of your Government duties. The Department requires all its employees to obtain prior approval to engage in outside employment. Contact your ethics official for further guidance.

Can I teach a course on beginner swimming in the physical education department at the local community college?

There are restrictions that apply to outside teaching, speaking, and writing. Generally, if the activity relates to your official duties, the rule is that you cannot be paid for it. However, even if the course does relate to your work, there is an exception for teaching a course in the regular program of certain educational institutions that would allow you to teach the community college course.

If your Government job requires you to deal with the community college or in any way affects the college's financial interests, you should seek advice from your ethics official before you accept the teaching position.

Note: High-ranking, non-career employees are subject to additional restrictions on outside earned income. Check with the Department ethics official for those rules.

What about fundraising?

There are rules that apply to fundraising as a private individual. Basically you can engage in private fundraising outside the workplace as long as you do not ask for a contribution from a subordinate or from someone who is regulated by, does business with, or seeks official action by the Department, or has interests that may be substantially affected by you when you do your job. Also, you cannot use your title, position, or authority or Government time or equipment to further the fundraising effort. And you must avoid any action that would violate any of the other conduct rules. Fundraising in your official capacity is highly restricted by other laws and rules, so you should always ask your ethics official before engaging in that kind of activity.

Note: Prior approval is required if you are being compensated for your fundraising activities.

Some Things That Can and Can't Be Done off the Job

  • Carter's agency requires prior approval of outside activities, including service as an officer or director of an organization. With his agency's approval, Carter may serve as an officer of an association. Of course, he may still have to disqualify himself from working on official matters that could affect that association.
  • After obtaining written approval, Victoria may work as a part-time salesperson with a clothing store in the local shopping center so long as her official duties do not affect the company that owns the chain of clothing stores.
  • Yolanda may not use her job title or position with a Federal law enforcement agency to raise funds for the police officers' association in her county. But she could do it on her own time, as a private citizen and not in a Government uniform.
  • George, who processes Medicare claims, may not be paid for teaching a one-day seminar for a senior citizens' group on the Medicare program and how to fill out Medicare claims.
  • Ian works for the Department of Agriculture. Because of a criminal statute (18 USC 205), he cannot call the IRS on behalf of a neighbor (even if he will not be paid by her), to ask for reduction of a penalty assessed against her for late payment.

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