Impartiality in Performing Official Duties

Professional business woman using a computer.

Executive branch employees are required to consider whether their impartiality may be questioned whenever their involvement in a particular matter involving specific parties might affect certain personal and business relationships. A pending case, contract, grant, permit, license or loan are some examples of particular matters involving specific parties. General rulemaking, on the other hand, is not.

If such a matter would have an effect on the financial interest of a member of the employee's household, or if a person with whom the employee has a "covered relationship" is or represents a party to such a matter, then the employee must consider whether a reasonable person would question the employee's impartiality in the matter. If the employee concludes that there would be an appearance problem, then the employee should not participate in the matter unless authorized by the agency.

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An employee has a "covered relationship" with the following persons:

  • A person with whom the employee has or seeks a business, contractual or other financial relationship.
  • A person who is a member of the employee's household or with whom the employee has a close personal relationship.
  • A person for whom the employee's spouse, parent or dependent child serves as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor or employee.
  • Any person for whom the employee has within the last year served as officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor or employee.
  • Any organization in which the employee is an active participant.

An employee may have a concern that circumstances other than those expressly described in the regulation may raise a question regarding the employee's impartiality. In such a situation, the employee should follow the procedures described in the regulation to determine whether or not participation in the particular matter would be appropriate.

Some persons who enter Government service may receive a special severance payment or other benefit which their former employer does not make to other departing employees not entering into Federal service. If such a payment made prior to entering Government service is in excess of $10,000 and if certain other factors are present, then the employee is disqualified for two years from participating in any particular matter in which the former employer is a party or represents a party. The agency may waive or shorten the disqualification period.

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