I work for the federal government. This reminder was just emailed to all employees in my department, and I believe this guidance works well as a baseline for Woodside directors, who manage a budget of $4.2 million for the benefit of all homeowners.

Sometimes your work … could benefit you or your family personally or may affect individuals or organizations that you have some connection with outside your government job. In these circumstances, the public could be concerned that you will be motivated by considerations other than your desire to do what is best for the public.

Because the success of the Department depends upon maintaining the confidence of the public and your impartiality in performing your official duties, it is important that every employee at the Department be aware of the criminal conflicts of interest statutes and Standards of Ethical Conduct that apply to all Executive Branch employees.

Conflicts of Interest. Congress passed a criminal conflicts of interest law that may prohibit you from working on an assignment even if you believe you can be objective and even if your supervisor wants you to work on it.

As a federal employee, you are prohibited from participating personally and substantially in an official capacity in any particular matter in which, to your knowledge, you or any person whose interests are imputed to you has a financial interest, if the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that financial interest.

Your financial interests include any current or contingent ownership, equity, or security interest in real or personal property or a business, any ownership of financial instruments or investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate, and any salary or indebtedness.

Remember that the financial interests of the following are also treated as your financial interests under the criminal conflicts of interest law:

  • Spouse;
  • Minor children;
  • General partner;
  • Organizations in which you serve as an employee, officer, director, general partner, or trustee; and
  • Organization with whom you are negotiating for or have an arrangement concerning prospective employment.

Impartiality. Additionally, there may be circumstances other than those covered by the criminal conflicts of interest law which could raise concerns about your impartiality in your work or assignments at the Department.

Under the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, you are asked to consider whether a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would question your impartiality before you participate in certain decisions, actions, and determinations at the Department. Specifically, those that affect the financial interests of a member of your household or those that involve or affect your personal and business relationships called “covered relationships” in the impartiality regulation.

You have a “covered relationship” with:

  • a person with whom you have or seek a business, contractual, or other financial relationship;
  • a person who is a member of your household or is a relative with whom you have a close personal relationship;
  • a person for whom your spouse, parent, or dependent child serves or seeks to serve as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor, or employee;
  • any person for whom you have within the last year served as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor, or employee; and
  • any organization (other than a political party) in which you are an active participant.

Depending on the situation, additional ethics restrictions may also apply. Whether just entering, currently serving or leaving the government, you may be required to take actions to resolve or mitigate conflicts of interest, appearance, or impartiality concerns.