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

Use of Government Information

Executive branch employees may not use or allow the use of nonpublic Government information to further their own private interests or the private interests of others.

Definition of Nonpublic Information

Nonpublic information is information that the employee gains by reason of Federal employment and that he or she knows or reasonably should know has not been made available to the general public.

Nonpublic Government information includes, but is not limited to:

  • information that is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act;
  • information that the agency has designated as confidential; or
  • information that has not actually been disseminated to the general public and is not authorized to be made available to the public upon request.

Examples of prohibited conduct

Example 1: Gail is an employee of the Department of the Navy who learns that her agency will award a contract to Supplier Corporation. Before the contract is publicly announced, Gail calls her stockbroker and purchases stock in Supplier Corporation.

Example 2: Harry, a General Services Administration employee, discloses the terms of a proposal for a GSA construction contract to a friend whose company has submitted a competing proposal.

In addition to violating the Standards of Conduct, the actions described in these two examples may also violate Federal statutes prohibiting the use and disclosure of confidential and inside information.

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