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Ethics Issues that may arise in the event of a lapse of appropriations

DOJ Employees: In the event of a lapse in appropriations, remember that you remain a federal employee even if furloughed, and you continue to be subject to all the ethics rules, including the conflict of interest statutes, the standards of conduct for employees in the executive branch, and the DOJ ethics rules, all of which can be accessed on the Ethics Website.

As a reminder, during the furlough, all of the rules that normally govern a DOJ employee’s conduct continue to be in effect, including rules on gifts and outside employment. 

An employee may not accept a gift during a furlough that s/he could not accept during regular operations. In addition, employees may not solicit or accept gifts from prohibited sources, which include contractors

Remember, too, that certain outside employment or activity (even if unpaid) is prohibited unless a waiver is obtained from the Deputy Attorney General.  These activities include the paid practice of law, activity related to any criminal or habeas corpus matter (Federal, State, or local), or any matter in which the Department is or represents a party, witness, litigant, investigator or grant-maker. See 5 CFR § 3801.106.  Please note, a waiver will not be granted during the furlough; thus, an employee must not engage in these activities.  Also, it is a misuse of position for an employee to use her/his DOJ status to obtain any outside employment. 

A summary of the outside employment rules and a link to the rules are included on the Ethics webpage under the section entitled “Outside Employment and Activities.”  Additional rules that govern misuse of government title, position, information and property are found under the section “Misuse of Position and Government Resources.”  Also, remember that federal employees remain subject to the Hatch Act restrictions on certain partisan political activity, as outlined in the section “Political Activities.”  Because a DOJ employee will not have the benefit of her/his ethics advisor during the furlough, review this information carefully before engaging in any activity which may violate these rules.  Any outside employment undertaken must clearly be permissible under the rules.  A few examples of outside employment that generally does not raise conflict issues and does not require prior approval are sales positions at a retail store, or food service positions at restaurants.  Upon the return to service, confer with an ethics official and obtain any approvals that may be required.

 The Departmental Ethics Office maintains summaries of the ethics rules and links to relevant information on this website.

Updated December 21, 2018