Partnership Ethics

As federal employees interact with colleagues from local and state agencies, nonprofits and businesses, an act of kindness from representatives of these sectors could be an ethics or criminal conflict of interest violation for a federal employee.

Collectively, federal ethics regulations, conflict of interest laws and specific employee conduct statutes establish a code of conduct to guide the actions of federal employees in the performance of their responsibilities.

The responsibility to understand this code of conduct rests with each individual employee.

These instructional videos provide a context for understanding these regulations and statutes. It is the responsibility of each federal employee to seek guidance related to these topics from their servicing ethics advisor or Office of General Counsel, as the interpretation of regulations and statutes may vary given additional laws passed by Congress, court rulings and policies that are agency specific.

Discussion Questions: Partnership Ethics, Fundraising Events 

1. Which two people do you contact to seek approval for attending a fundraising event?

2. Can the Secretary's Gift Acceptance policy provide the statutory authority for you to attend a fundraising event in your official capacity?

3. May you attend a nonprofit partner's fundraising event, if you do not have a visible role in the event?

4. What is a WAG? Might the WAG provide you with authority to attend a fundraising event?

5. What is the definition of fundraising as defined by ethics regulations?


Discussion Questions: Partnership Ethics, Part 1

1. Do the fourteen General Ethics Principles apply to all federal employees?

2. What is a cleansing statement and where do you use it?

3. May you attend a nonprofit organization's fundraising event in you professional capacity?

4. If a nonprofit group waives the fee for you to attend a fundraising event, is that waiver considered a gift?

5. If you are not approved to attend a fundraising event in your professional capacity, may you attend in your personal capacity?

6. What is the $20/$50 rule related to gifts?

7. Who is your servicing ethics advisor?

8. When might you need a Non-Federal Travel Assistance Form? 

Discussion Questions: Partnership Ethics, Part 2

 1. Do conflicts of interest statutes apply when you are off duty?

2. What is a covered relationship?

3. What constitutes "seeking employment"?

4. When you are off the clock, may you represent another organization/individual seeking support from another federal agency that is not your employer? 


Discussion Questions: Partnership Ethics, Part 3

1. How does the Solicitor/General Counsel role differ from the servicing ethics advisor? List one example of a partnership management responsibility that you would discuss with a representative of the solicitor/general counsel.

2. How does the Appropriations/Budget Office role differ from the servicing ethics advisor? List one example of a partnership management responsibility that you would discuss with a representative of the Budget Office?

3. May you write a "letter of support" as requested by a nonprofit partner?

4. Is transportation provided by a prohibited source (e.g. contractor, partner, etc.) considered a gift?

5. As a gift, is alcohol considered a modest item?

6. What items of food or beverage are excluded from the definition of gift within the meaning of ethics rules?

7. May a federal employee serve on the Board or Governing Body of anther organization?

8. Can a manager absolve an employee of a conflict of interest?

9. Are there instances where supervising a subordinate equates to committing a conflict of interest?


Discussion Questions: Partnership Ethics, Impartiality and Outside

1. May a former employee contact you regarding an update of a grant award to a nonprofit on behalf of his/her new employer?

2. Who or what is a Prohibited Source?

3. Describe one situation in which you might recuse yourself from carrying out your position responsibilities due to the potential of a conflict of interest?


Markci Metcalf

Former Deputy Ethics Counselor



© 2020 All rights reserved.