A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A. Conflicting Financial Interests - Section 2635.402
Question: What is a conflict of interest?
Answer: Simply put, it's working on a matter in which you have a personal interest, and therefore about which you may be less than objective.
Question: What is the basic conflict of interest rule?
Answer: Executive branch employees are prohibited by a Federal criminal statute from working on matters that could benefit their personal interests. For the rule to apply, you or someone close to you must have a personal interest in the matter in question. For purposes of this rule, an employee is responsible for the financial interests of --
the employee's spouse or minor child
the employee's general partner
an organization in which the employee serves as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, employee, regardless of whether the position is salaried, and
a person with whom the employee is negotiating for or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment.
Question: How does a conflict of interest get resolved?
Answer: There are a number of ways in which an employee may deal with a potential conflict of interest. The employee may simply not participate in the matter that would pose the conflict. This is called "recusal" or "disqualification." If the financial interest is a modest one, the statute may be waived after consultation with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). A personal financial interest may be sold, or "divested." Which remedy is appropriate will depend upon the particular circumstances.
One remedy that is often appropriate for avoiding a potential conflict of interest is recusal or disqualification. This simply means that the employee does not participate in a matter that could affect the employee's financial interest.
Another remedy for dealing with conflicts of interest is the use of waivers. An individual waiver of the statutory bar may be granted by an authorized official when the conflicting financial interest is not substantial. For example, an official might grant a waiver where the employee owned only a few shares of a particular stock. Waivers may also be granted to special Government employees serving on advisory committees. OGE has issued regulatory waivers for certain classes of financial interests at 5 CFR Part 2640.
Certificates of Divestiture
Section 1043 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for the deferral of capital gains taxes on assets that must be sold to comply with ethics program requirements. Proceeds from divested assets must be reinvested in certain specified categories of investments (basically mutual funds or Government securities). In order to take advantage of the tax deferral mechanism, a Certificate of Divestiture must be obtained from OGE before the sale occurs. Your Counsel's office will assist you this process if divestiture is appropriate.
B. Prohibited Financial Interest Section 2635.403
Question: Are there financial interests that the Department prohibits all employees from having?
Answer: No Each employee's financial interests are evaluated in terms of his or her duties. Below are a list of offices and bureaus that have restrictions on holding specified property:
The Secretary and employees of the Office of the Secretary;
Other Departmental offices reporting directly to a Secretarial officer who are in positions classified at GS-15 and above;
Minerals Management Services employees;
Bureau of Land Management; and
U.S. Geological Survey. 5 CFR 3501.103 and 43 CFR §20.401/31(a)