Outside Work and Activities



Ethics Guide

Outside Work and Activities (FAQ)

Outside work or activities are permitted unless they are prohibited by statute or regulation, or would require (to avoid a conflict of interest) the employee's disqualification from matters central or critical to the performance of his or her official duties.

DOI Regulation 5 C.F.R. § 3501.105 requires all Department employees to seek prior written approval from a Departmental or bureau ethics counselor before engaging in paid or unpaid work with a prohibited source.  For the purposes of these regulations, the definition of prohibited source and the components within the Department are the same as in "Gifts from Domestic and Private Sources".  Section 5 C.F.R. § 2635.202.  Check with your office or bureau ethics counselor for any office-specific or bureau-specific procedures or restrictions that may apply to your situation.

Presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed employees may pursue certain outside activities, but may not receive outside earned income for engaging in any such activity.  Noncareer SES employees may not in any calendar year, receive outside earned income that exceeds 15% of the annual rate of basic pay for level II of the Executive Schedule.

All outside work must take place outside official duty hours or while on authorized leave.

Serving as an Expert Witness - 5 C.F.R. § 2635.805

You may not serve as an expert witness, in your private capacity in any proceeding before a court or agency of the United States in which the U.S. is a party or has a direct or substantial interest, without prior approval from the head of the Departmental Ethics Office [Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO)].

If you are subpoenaed to testify as an expert in any such matter, you must notify your supervisor and the DAEO immediately and request approval to proceed.

If you receive DAEO approval, you must still comply with DOI and bureau work and outside activities.  For instance, all DOI employees must obtain prior approval to work (paid or unpaid) for a prohibited source , and all USGS employees must obtain prior approval for any outside work or activity that is related to their USGS duties or the USGS mission.  

The definition of "prohibited source" is any person, company, or organization that has business with your agency, is seeking to do business with your agency, conducts operations that are regulated by your agency, or has any interests that might be affected by the performance or nonperformance of your official duties.

Teaching, Speaking, and Writing - 5 C.F.R. § 2635.807

Generally, you may not receive compensation, other than travel expenses, for outside teaching, speaking, or writing that relates to your official duties.

For purposes of this regulation, a teaching, speaking, or writing activity relates to your official duties if:

  • The activity is undertaken as part of your official duties;
  • The circumstances indicate that the invitation to engage in the activity was extended to you primarily because of your official position rather than your expertise on the particular subject matter;
  • The invitation to engage in the activity or the offer of compensation for the activity was extended to you by a person who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of your official duties;
  • The information conveyed through the activity draws substantially on nonpublic information; or
  • The subject of the activity deals in significant part with:
    1. A matter to which you are presently assigned or to which you have been assigned during the previous year; or
    2. Any ongoing announced policy, program, or operation of DOI or your office or bureau.

Exception for Teaching Certain Courses - Even if the subject matter deals with your official duties, you may accept compensation for teaching a course requiring multiple presentations offered as the regularly established curriculum of an accredited institution of higher education, a secondary school, an elementary school, or a program of education sponsored and funded by the Federal Government or by a state or local government.  You may only receive compensation under these circumstances for outside teaching, not for teaching carried out as part of your official responsibilities.  If the class involves providing services to prohibited sources, prior approval is required. It is recommended you contact your ethics counselor to determine if you can receive compensation for speaking, teaching, and outside-work related to your official duties.

Reference to Official Position - If you are engaged in teaching, speaking, or writing as an outside activity, you may not use or permit the use of your official title or position except:

  • You may include your title or position as one of several biographical details when such information is given to identify you, provided that it is not given more prominence than other significant biographical details.
  • You may use your title or position in connection with an article published in a scientific or professional journal, provided that it is accompanied by a disclaimer that the views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of DOI or the United States Government.
  • If you are ordinarily addressed using a general term of address such as "The Honorable," or a rank, such as a military or ambassadorial rank, you may use that term of address or rank.

Prior Approval Requirements - Before engaging in any outside teaching, speaking, or writing for compensation, make sure that you comply with Department and bureau prior approval requirements for outside activities and employment. (See DOI regulation 5 C.F.R. § 3501.105 or See paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 above.)

Fundraising - 5 C.F.R. § 2635.808

Ethics Guide

Fundraising (FAQ) 

The general rule on fundraising can be found at 5 C.F.R. § 2635.808.  Unless permitted by law, regulation or special authority, Department employees may not engage in any form of fundraising activities.  This includes but is not limited to, conducting raffles, lotteries, bake sales, carnivals, athletic events, etc. for charitable organizations.  Department employees may engage in charitable organizations sanctioned by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  This includes the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), Federal agency day care centers and relief efforts such as those following the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In your official capacity- The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the only authorized solicitation of employees for charitable fundraising in the Federal workplace.  The rules governing acceptable fundraising activities by Federal employees are described in 5 C.F.R. Part 950.  Generally, CFC fundraising activities that can be considered "gambling" are prohibited in Government owned or leased buildings.  Raffles and lotteries are prohibited in Government owned or leased buildings and facilities except for very limited CFC activities permitted by 5 C.F.R. § 950.602(b).

During the Combined Federal Campaign, it is acceptable for employees to conduct games and contests (e.g., door decorating contests, quizzes such as trivial pursuit, guessing games (how many jelly beams in a jar)), provided there is no requirement that a donation be made as a condition of participating and the contest prizes are legitimately obtained.  A container for donations may be prominently displayed in proximity to where the contest is taking place, as long as it is clearly communicated that donations are voluntary.  No suggested amount of an appropriate donation may be made.

In your personal capacity - An employee may generally engage in fundraising in a personal capacity provided he or she does not:

  • Personally solicit funds or other support from a subordinate or from any person the employee knows is a prohibited source.
  • Use or permit the use of his or her official title, position, or any authority associated with his or her public office to further the fundraising effort.
  • Engage in any action that would otherwise violate the ethics laws or regulations.

Employees and other persons are prohibited from selling or soliciting for personal gain within any building or on any lands occupied or used by DOI.  Exception is granted for Department-authorized operations including, but not limited to, the Interior Department Recreation Association; the Indian Arts and Crafts store; and for cafeteria, newsstand, snack bar, and vending machine operations that are authorized by DOI for the benefit of employees or the public.  (See 43 C.F.R. § 20.504.)

SERVING AS AN OFFICER OR MEMBER OF A BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF AN OUTSIDE ORGANIZATION

Before entering into such service, you must consult with the Departmental Ethics Office or your bureau Deputy Ethics Counselor.