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

Outside Employment and Activities

An executive branch employee may wish to engage in outside employment or activities while employed by the Government. The public may suspect that the employee will take Government actions to favor the employee’s outside employer or other outside interests, or that the employee will use access to Government information, property, or decisionmakers to further those interests. Also, the public may be concerned that outside activities will prevent the employee from spending sufficient time on the employee’s Government work. Accordingly:

  • An employee may be required to seek approval before engaging in an outside activity.
  • An employee may be disqualified from working on a particular Government matter while engaged in an outside activity.
  • An employee may be prohibited from accepting compensation for an activity.
  • An employee may be prohibited from engaging in an outside activity.
Teaching, Speaking, & Writing
An executive branch employee may not receive compensation from any source other than the Government for teaching, speaking, or writing that is undertaken as part of the employee’s official duties or, subject to an exception for teaching certain courses, that otherwise “relates” to the employee’s official duties, and may not use or permit the use of the employee’s official title if the activity is undertaken in a personal capacity (except in certain circumstances).

Outside Employment Limitations
An executive branch employee may not engage in outside employment or any other outside activity that conflicts with the employee’s official duties or that would violate a law or regulation, and may be required to obtain approval before engaging in specified outside activities. 

Volunteering & Other Unpaid Activities
Volunteer service by Government employees performed on their own time is generally encouraged as permitted by statute, regulation, or other rule or guideline.

Fundraising
When fundraising in a personal capacity, an executive branch employee may not use or permit the use of his or her official title to further a fundraising effort, nor solicit funds from a subordinate or from a person whom the employee knows to be a “prohibited source.”

Testimony
An executive branch employee may not serve as an expert witness, for anyone except the United States, in a proceeding before a Federal court or agency in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest, unless the employee's participation is authorized by the Designated Agency Ethics Official.

Communications with the Government
Two closely related statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§ 203 and 205, generally prohibit employees from representing private interests before the Government.

Political Activities
This page briefly discusses the restrictions on political activities by executive branch employees.