United States Office of Government Ethics, Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch

Use of Government Equipment or Property
February 24, 2016

Executive branch employees have a duty to protect and conserve Government property and may not use Government property, or allow its use, for any purpose other than the one that is authorized.

Government Property

The term "Government property" includes real or personal property that the Government owns or leases such as:

  • telecommunications equipment;
  • computers;
  • office supplies;
  • Government mail systems; or
  • vehicles.

Authorized Purpose

A purpose is authorized if:

  • there is a law or regulation that allows the property to be used for that purpose; or
  • it is a purpose for which the Government property is made available to members of the public. For example, a national park recreation area is Government property that is available to the members of the public, including Government employees, for their use.

Examples of prohibited conduct

Example 1: Will, an executive branch employee, coaches his daughter's soccer team. He uses his Government computer to type and reproduce the game and practice schedules for the soccer team.

Example 2: Barbara works for a Federal executive branch agency and is an avid gardening enthusiast in her spare time. She wants to have pens and paper pads on hand for notetakers at the garden club meetings at her house, so she borrows some from her agency's supply cabinet.

Examples of permissible conduct

Example 1: Under the regulations of her agency, Beth may use a Government telephone to call family members to let them know that she will be working late or to call to arrange for home or car repairs.

Example 2: In accordance with Office of Personnel Management regulations at 5 C.F.R. part 251, an attorney employed by the Department of Justice may be permitted to use her office computer and an agency photocopier to prepare a paper to be presented at a conference sponsored by a professional association of which she is a member.

The information on this page is not a substitute for individual advice. Agency ethics officials should be consulted about specific situations.