President George W. Bush: Resources for the President's Team The White House
President Bush delivers remarks.
Guidance on ethics rules and regulations.
Records Management
Guidance on proper records management.
Legislative Process
Introduction to legislative affairs.
Government Oversight
FAQ on the GAO and IGs


"The difficulty is to know conscience from self-interest." -- Samuel Butler

A true story: A senior government official, who owned numerous shares of stock in a beverage company, attended several meetings about the company and ordered a financial impact analysis of a possible business alliance between the agency and the company. When advised of a possible ethics problem, he disqualified himself from further actions relating to the business alliance. Nonetheless, the official was prosecuted for violating 18 U.S.C. 208 and ultimately settled the case by paying thousands of dollars in civil penalties (not to mention attorneys' fees).

I have stock in a company that has business with my agency. Is that a problem?
It may be. You may not participate personally and substantially in any particular Government matter that would affect your financial interests. This criminal prohibition also applies to matters that would affect the financial interests of other people close to you, such as your spouse, minor child, general partner, or an organization in which you are serving as officer, director, trustee, general partner or employee. It also applies to matters affecting the interests of anyone with whom you are negotiating, or have an arrangement for future employment.

One of the most common areas in which this rule applies is stock interests. Specifically, you must be recused from a matter that affects the interests of a company that you (or your spouse, minor child, etc.) hold stock in. You do not have a conflict of interest merely because the company does business with your agency, but you may not participate in matters affecting that company's interests. Because the application of the rule can be complex, it is wise to seek advice prior to any involvement in a matter that could affect the interests of that company.

Other than recusal, what options do I have for resolving conflicts of interest?
You may be permitted to act in a matter that affects your financial interests if your agency grants you a waiver or if the ethics rules specifically allow it. Alternatively, you could divest the conflicting interest. You might be able to defer the tax consequences of a capital gain incurred from the divestiture if you receive prior approval from the Office of Government Ethics.

My adult child is employed by a company that has business with my agency. Is that a problem?
Some situations may require you to take certain steps to ensure that you do not have even the appearance of a conflict of interest. For example, you may have to disqualify yourself from participating in a Government matter if someone with whom you have a covered relationship is, or represents, a party to the matter. You have a covered relationship with anyone with whom you have a business relationship, members of your household, relatives with whom you have a close personal relationship, your spouse's or parents' employers, anyone for whom you have worked in the past year, and any organization in which you actively participate.

Certain severance payments from your former employer may require your disqualification from participating in Government matters in which your former employer is a party or represents a party.

Any time you feel that your impartiality reasonably could be questioned, you should discuss the situation with an ethics official before proceeding.

A non-profit group has offered to pay me to give a speech about one of my agency's programs. May I accept the offer?
You may not accept the payment. Your salary for Government work can be paid only by the United States. You may not receive compensation from anyone other than the Government for performing your official duties. That means, for example, that you could not get paid by an outside organization for giving a speech that relates to your official duties. In that case, the Government is paying you to make the speech.

Guidance From The Office of Government Ethics:
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