Outside Work and Activities

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

Engaging in Employment with a Prohibited Source

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 employment with a prohibited source. The Outside Work or Activities Form (DI-7010) is used to obtain approval from your ethics counselors.  For this purpose, the definition of prohibited source is any person, company, or organization that is seeking official action by your agency, does business with your agency, is seeking to do business with your agency, conducts operations that are regulated by your agency, or has interests that might be affected by the performance or nonperformance of your official duties; or is an organization, a majority of whose members are prohibited sources as defined above.

The separate agency components within the Department are the same as for "Gifts from Domestic and Private Sources." 5 C.F.R. § 3501.102. Check with your office or bureau ethics counselor for any office-specific or bureau-specific procedures or restrictions that may apply to your situation. For instance, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees must obtain prior written approval from the USGS Ethics Office via Form DI-7010 for all outside work or activities (paid or unpaid) that are related to their USGS job duties or the USGS mission.

Definition of Employment

Employment means any form of non-Federal business relationship involving the provision of personal services by the employee, with or without compensation.  It includes but is not limited to personal services as officer, director, employee, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor, general partner, trustee, teacher, or speaker.  It includes writing done under an arrangement with another person for production or publication of the written product.  It does not, however, include participation in the activities of a non-profit charitable, religious, professional, social, fraternal, educational, recreational, public service, or civic organization, unless the participation involves the provision of professional services or advice for compensation other than reimbursement for actual expenses.

PAS Employees: Presidentially-appointed, confirmed by the Senate employees (PAS) may pursue certain outside activities but may not receive outside earned income for engaging in any such activity and must receive approval.

SES Employees: Non-career Senior Executive Employees (SES) 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.  These non-career employees have additional outside earned income and employment and affiliation restrictions and should consult with the DEO before engaging in any outside activity.

All outside work must take place outside official duty hours or while employees are on authorized leave. Employees may not use or permit the use of their official titles, position, or government resources in their outside work or activities.

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

You may not serve, with or without compensation, 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 DEO.

If you are subpoenaed to testify as an expert in any such matter, you must notify your supervisor and the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) immediately and request approval to proceed.  If you receive DAEO approval, you must still comply with DOI and bureau work and outside activity requirements. 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.

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 part of 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.

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; and
  • 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 outside teaching, speaking, or writing for compensation, make sure that you comply with Department and bureau prior approval requirements for outside activities and employment.

Fundraising 5 C.F.R. § 2635.808

Unless permitted by law, regulation, or special authority, Department employees may not engage in any form of fundraising in the workplace. This includes but is not limited to, conducting raffles, lotteries, bake sales, carnivals, athletic events, etc., for charitable organizations. 

In your official capacity - An employee may participate in fundraising in an official capacity only as authorized by statute, Executive Order, or regulation.  When authorized to participate in fundraising in an official capacity, an employee may use his official title, position, and authority.

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and special disaster relief solicitations approved by Office of Personnel Management are generally 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

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.

An employee may generally engage in fundraising in a personal capacity outside the workplace 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 (see the “Gifts” tab for a definition of 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; or
  • Engage in any action that would otherwise violate the ethics laws or regulations.

Serving as an Officer or Member of a Board of Directors of an Outside Organization

In order for an employee to serve as an officer or board member of a non-Federal organization as part of his/her official duties, he/she must have a written authorization of assignment from either the Secretary of the Interior or the head of their Bureau or Office prior to engaging in such official service. To start the process of requesting an authorization of assignment, contact the DEO or your servicing ethics office. Prior approval from an ethics counselor is required if an employee is interested in serving in their personal capacity as an officer or board member of a non-Federal organization that is a prohibited source. See the “Gifts” section of this website for a definition of “prohibited source.”

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