Use of Your Public Office



Ethics Guide

Misuse of Government Position  (FAQ)

Use of Position for Private Gain - 5 C.F.R. § 2635.701 and Misuse of Government Position - 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702

As a DOI employee, you may not use your public office for your own private gain or for the private gain of friends, relatives, business associates, or any other entity no matter how worthy.  Except as provided by law or regulation, you may not use or permit the use of your Government position, title, or any authority associated with your public office in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that DOI or the Government sanctions or endorses any of your personal activities or the activities of another, including any board you sit on in your personal capacity.

You may not use or permit the use of your Government position, title, or any authority associated with your public office in a manner that is intended to coerce or induce another person, including a subordinate, to provide any benefit, financial or otherwise, to yourself or to friends, relatives, or persons with whom you are affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.

Endorsements - 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702

A DOI employee shall not use or permit the use of his Government position, title, or any authority associated with his public office to endorse any product, service, or enterprise except: (1) in furtherance of statutory authority to promote products, services, or enterprises; (2) as a result of documentation of compliance with agency requirements or standards; or (3) under an agency program in recognition for accomplishments in support of DOI's mission.

You may endorse an outside program in your private capacity; however, your endorsement may not make reference to your official title or position within DOI or your bureau.

Letters of Recommendation - You may sign a letter of recommendation using your official title only in response to a request for an employment recommendation or character reference based upon personal knowledge of the ability or character of a person with whom you have dealt in the course of Federal employment or whom you are recommending for Federal employment.  You may not write a letter of recommendation for a company.

Giving Preferential Treatment to Relatives

Nepotism, or showing favoritism on the basis of family relationships, is prohibited.  The Department's policy on nepotism is based directly on the nepotism law in 5 U.S.C. § 3110.

A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for the appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement of a relative in or to any civilian position in the agency in which the public official serves, or over which he or she exercises jurisdiction or control.  This restriction encompasses all of DOI (in addition to all DOI bureaus).  An individual appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in violation of the nepotism law is not entitled to pay.

Exceptions to the Nepotism Policy

When necessary to meet urgent needs resulting from an emergency posing an immediate threat to life or property, or a national emergency as defined in 5 C.F.R. § 230.402(a)(1), a public official may employ relatives to meet those needs without regard to the restrictions in 5 U.S.C. § 3110.  Such appoints are temporary and may not exceed 30 days, but the agency may extend such an appointment for one additional 30-day period if the emergency need still exists at the time of the extension.

Questions regarding nepotism should be referred to your Human Resources Office.