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Ethics - Restrictions on Former Employees

What rules am I subject to after leaving the Government to take a job in the private sector?

There is a Federal statute (18 USC 207) known as the "post-employment law" that applies to all former employees after they leave the Government. In general, this law does not prohibit you from working for any particular employer. It may, however, restrict the kinds of things that you do for that employer, depending on what you worked on or were responsible for when you were with the Government. Some additional rules apply to high-level officials and employees who were involved in procurement.

After you leave Government service, you may seek specific guidance on these restrictions from your former agency. Do not hesitate to contact your ethics official at the DOE, or another former agency, to insure you perform the duties of your new employment in a lawful manner. It is a good idea to ask about these rules when you are asking about seeking employment. You will want to know if you are permitted to do the work your prospective new employer wants you to do before you take that job.

Examples of Things That Can and Can't Be Done after Leaving a Government Job

  • Walter may accept a job as a compliance officer with a company that is regulated by his former agency. But he may have some limitations in communicating with his former agency on his company's behalf. For example, if he served his former agency as a "senior" employee, he would be restricted for one year from any communication to that agency, but he could help his new employer "behind the scenes."
  • Rudolf may not represent his new private employer in a dispute with the Government over a security services contract that he reviewed while working for the Government.
  • For two years, Zenia may not represent her new employer before her former agency regarding investigations conducted by her subordinates during her last year of Government service.

Special Categories of Employees

This guide does not describe how the rules may apply differently for "special Government employees" (SGEs), employees involved with procurement, senior officials, or non-career political appointees. If you believe you are in one of these groups, please ask your ethics official for information on the rules that are specific to you.

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