DOI Ethics Prohibitions

Ethics Prohibitions Unique to DOI Employees

A summary of DOI-specific and bureau-specific restrictions are listed below. If you are not certain if you are covered by one or more of the restrictions below, check with an ethics counselor from your office or bureau.

All DOI Employees - 5 C.F.R. § 3501.103(c)

This regulation prohibits, with limited exceptions, all DOI employees, their spouses, and their minor children from acquiring or retaining any claim, permit, leases, small tract entries, or other rights that are granted by the Department in Federal lands. This prohibition does not restrict the recreational or other personal or noncommercial use of Federal lands by an employee, or the employee's spouse or minor children, on the same terms available to the general public.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Office of Natural Resources Revenue, and Certain Office of the Secretary Employees - 5 C.F.R. § 3501.103(b)

This regulation applies to all employees of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR), and certain employees within the Office of the Secretary (OS) and other Departmental offices that report directly to a Secretarial officer who are in positions classified at GS-15 and above. Employees in these offices may not acquire or hold any direct or indirect financial interest in Federal lands or resources administered or controlled by the Department. This generally includes stock or bond interests in most oil, gas, and mining companies that hold leases on Federal lands to conduct their operations. 

Bureau of Land Management Employees - 43 U.S.C. § 1143 C.F.R. § 20.401, and 5 C.F.R. § 3501.103

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees are prohibited from voluntarily acquiring direct (owned by the BLM employee) or indirect (owned by the spouse or minor child of a BLM employee) financial interests in Federal lands. Prohibited interests include stocks, bonds, and other securities in oil, gas, geothermal, and mining companies that hold leases or other property rights on Federal lands. Prohibited interests also include companies that hold substantial Rights-of-Way on Federal lands. A BLM employee may not be a member or employee of a business that has interests in Federal lands, nor serve as a private sector real estate agent. Additionally, BLM employees may not occupy or use Federal lands (other than on the same terms as use of Federal lands is available to the general public), or take any benefits from Federal lands, based upon a contract, grant, lease, permit, easement, rental, agreement, mineral rights, grazing rights, or other holdings the BLM issues or regulates.

U.S. Geological Survey Employees - 43 U.S.C. § 31(a)43 C.F.R. § 20.401(b), and 5 C.F.R. § 3501.104

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees are prohibited from holding financial interests in entities that have DOI leases (above certain acreage thresholds) related to energy exploration, development, and production on public lands. USGS employees, their spouses and minor children may hold only limited financial interests in entities engaged in private mining activities (i.e., energy exploration, development, and production) on private land in the United States. The current Financial Guide for USGS Employees, posted at, has more information. USGS employees are also prohibited from being consultants (paid or unpaid) in their personal capacities in subject matter areas related to their USGS job duties or the USGS mission.

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Employees and Certain Other Federal Employees - 30 U.S.C. § 1211(f)30 C.F.R. Parts 705 and 70643 C.F.R. § 20.402, and 5 C.F.R. § 3501.104(a)

This law prohibits all Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) employees and any other Federal employee who performs functions and duties under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 from having any financial interests in surface or underground coal mining operations. If you don't work for the OSMRE but have responsibilities connected with mining and reclamation operations, contact an ethics counselor from your bureau/office to determine whether you are covered by this law.

Prohibited financial interests under this law include companies that are involved in developing, producing, preparing, or loading coal or reclaiming the areas upon which such activities occur.

30 U.S.C. § 1267(g) prohibits employees of state regulatory authorities performing any function or duty under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 from having any financial interest in surface or underground coal mining operations. (See also 30 C.F.R. Part 705.)

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