General Information for Outside Employment

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Background

As of 3/24/2000, USDA has reinstated the requirement that all employees who file a public or confidential financial disclosure report are required to request and obtain approval for non-Federal employment and activities. A "Request for Approval of Outside Activity" must be submitted and approved by the immediate supervisor with final approval by an ethics advisor prior to participation in the proposed non-Federal employment or activity. Employees should submit form OE-101, "Request for Approval of Outside Activity." This form can be found on the Science Ethics Website forms page. Employees should also be familiar with the provisions of the Standards of Ethical Conduct (5 CFR, Subpart H, 2635.801 -807) and USDA Departmental Regulation 4070-735-001, Employee Responsibilities and Conduct, pertaining to non-Federal employment and activities. Employees are accountable for actions found in violation of criminal statutes and administrative regulations.

Purpose

This guide contains general criteria for the consideration of potential conflicts between official duties and outside work.

Definitions

CONFLICT OF INTEREST:
a situation in which an employee's official actions or duties could affect his/her private interests.

FARMING
:
any activity outside Federal employment, the purpose of which is to produce agricultural goods or commodities for sale.

FOREIGN EMPLOYMENT:
Any personally negotiated work with an organization whose headquarters are located outside the United States. Foreign employment also includes work with a foreign government, the political subdivision of a foreign government, including a public university or commercial enterprise owned or operated by a foreign government. (See section on "Foreign Employment" prohibitions.)

HONORARIUM:
payment of money or anything of value for services rendered.

LOSS OF IMPARTIALITY:
a situation where the circumstances could lead a reasonable person to question an employee's ability to act fairly on an official matter even though an actual conflict of interest does not exist.

OUTSIDE ACTIVITY/EMPLOYMENT:
Any non-Federal work, service, or activity performed by an employee other than in the performance of official duties. Includes, but is not limited to, such activities as writing, editing, publishing, teaching, lecturing, consulting services, self-employment, working for another employer, management or operation of a private business, personally owned business, partnership, corporation, or any work performed with or without compensation.

PROHIBITED SOURCE:
any person/organization (a majority of whose members are):

  • Seeking official action by USDA;
  • Conducting business or seeking to do business with USDA;
  • Conducting activities regulated by USDA; or
  • Having interests that may be substantially affected by performance or nonperformance of the employee's official duties.

Examples of Outside Work
Carrying the Potential for a Conflict of Interest

Below is a list of activities/employment where a conflict of interest could
occur:

- Adjunct and full professor appointments
- Officer positions in professional associations
- Writing, editing, publishing
- Teaching, lecturing
- Consulting services
- Self-employment
- Working for another employer
- Management or operation of a private business, partnership or corporation
- Farming (see additional requirements in "Farming" section.)

Examples of Work That are Unlikely
to Create a Conflict of Interest

Below is a list of activities where a conflict of interest is unlikely to exist:

- Membership in or volunteer work with:
- charitable, religious
- social, fraternal
- recreational
- public service, civic
- similar nonbusiness and nonprofit organizations
- Membership in professional organizations
- Performance of duties in the:
- Armed Forces
- Reserve
- National Guard
- Labor organization activities

Special Note: Except in very limited instances, employees are prohibited from representing non-Federal entities back to the Federal Government. (See "Criminal Prohibitions" section.)

Criteria for Consideration of Outside Work

Any employee about to engage in an outside employment/activity should use the following criteria to determine whether or not their outside work will create a conflict of interest or the appearance of favoritism (loss of impartiality).

NUMBER

CRITERIA

1

Considering the mission and duties of your official work and your intended outside work, review the following questions. If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, discuss the outside work with your Ethics Advisor.

Are you engaged in Government work that involves/affects the prospective employer?

Does your prospective employer do business with/work with the agency?

Will your work with the outside employer involve work they are doing for/with the Government (e.g. cooperative agreements/grants, etc.)

Are you expected to use official unpublished research or confidential information?

Are you expected to negotiate matters on behalf of your prospective employer back to the Federal Government?

Are you considering employment with a foreign government?

Do you wish to engage in foreign employment while officially serving abroad?

Special Note: If foreign work is contemplated, see "Foreign Employment Prohibitions" in this guide.

2

Overall, do you have enough information about the outside work to ensure adequate defense against a potential accusation of a conflict of interest?

REMEMBER, YOU ARE PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR ENSURING THAT YOUR ACTIVITIES COMPLY WITH THE ETHICS LAWS AND REGULATIONS.

Criminal Prohibitions

Overall, ethics rules are traceable to criminal prohibitions found in Title 18 of the United States Code. Violations of Title 18 carry potential fines, imprisonment, or both for all employees regardless of their title, series, or grade. Sections of Title 18 applicable throughout Federal employment follow:

CITATION

PROHIBITION

18 U.S.C. 201 (Bribery)

Offering, giving, accepting, or requesting something of value to influence an official act.

18 U.S.C. 203 (Compensated Representation)

Directly or indirectly demanding, seeking, receiving, accepting, or agreeing, to receive compensation (honoraria) for representational services related to any matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.

18 U.S.C. 205 (Uncompensated Representation)

Acting as agent or attorney for anyone before the Government in any matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.

18 U.S.C. 208 (Conflict of Interest)

Participating in a particular matter affecting the financial interest of:

  • The employee or the employee's immediate family members;
  • A non-Federal source for which the employee serves as officer, director, or employee; or
  • A non-Federal sources with which the employee is negotiating for employment or has an arrangement regarding future employment.

18 U.S.C. 209
(Dual Compensation)

Receiving salary/compensation for official duties from a non-Federal source.