Basic Obligation of Public Service

The Foundation For Ethical Behavior

Executive Order 12674

Thomas Jefferson enunciated the basic principle of public service: “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” This sentiment has been expressed by numerous others, over time becoming the familiar principle “Public service is a public trust.” To ensure public confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, Executive Order 12674 (as amended) forms the  framework  for  the  ethical  behavior  required  and expected  of  all  Federal  employees.  As  a  condition  of public service, you are expected to adhere to these fundamental principles of ethical behavior:

  • Public service is a public trust, requiring you to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.
  • You shall not hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty.
  • You shall not engage in financial transactions using non-public Government information or allow improper use of such information to further any private interest.
  • You shall not, except pursuant to such reasonable exceptions as are provided by regulation, solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary value from any person or entity seeking official action from, doing business with, or conducting activities regulated by your agency, or whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of your duties.
  • You shall make no unauthorized commitments or promise of any kind purported to bind the Government.
  • You shall put forth honest effort in the performance of your duties.
  • You shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with your official Government duties and responsibilities.
  • You shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.
  • You shall satisfy in good faith your obligations as citizens, including all just financial obligations, especially those such as Federal, state, or local taxes that are imposed by law.
  • You shall adhere to all laws and regulations that provide equal opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), parental status, national origin, age, disability, family medical history or genetic information, political affiliation, and military service.
  • You shall not use your public office for private gain.
  • You shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.
  • You shall protect and conserve Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activity.
  • You shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that you are violating the law, the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 C.F.R. part 2635), the DOI supplemental ethics regulation (5 C.F.R. part 3501), or Executive Order 12674.

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