A Quick Reminder on Imputed Interests

Last edited 02/15/2023
Outline of family with dollar bills in background

With the deadline for Confidential Financial Disclosure filers to file their OGE Form 450 quickly approaching, now is a great time to remind employees who file OGE Form 450 reports that they are required to report the financial interests of their spouse and dependent  children.

As a Federal employee of the Executive Branch, you are prohibited by a criminal conflict of interest statute (18 U.S.C. § 208) from participating personally and substantially in your official capacity in any particular matter in which you, or any person whose interests are imputed to you, have a financial interest.  A financial interest is the potential for gain or loss as a result of governmental action.

You may be asking yourself, “Whose financial interests are imputed to me?”  Below is a list of entities whose financial interests are imputed to you:

  • Your spouse;
  • Your minor children;
  • Your general partners;
  • An organization or entity in which you serve  as an officer, trustee, director, general partner, or employee; and
  • A person or organization with whom you are negotiating for, or have an arrangement concerning, future employment.

Why is it important to know if somebody’s financial interests are imputed to you?  That’s easy!  Financial interests that are imputed to you will serve to disqualify you from a particular matter to the same extent as if they were your own financial interests.  Simply stated, if somebody’s financial interests are imputed to you, that means their financial interests are your financial interests for ethics conflicts. This is why employees who file financial disclosure reports are required to report the financial interests of their spouse and dependent children.  Ethics officials use the information in a financial disclosure report to help identify and prevent conflicts – so please make sure your reports are complete and accurate!

Whether it’s a spouse’s or child’s financial interests that are imputed to you, or the imputed interest of an organization or other entity, if you know that you have a financial interest in a particular matter you are working on as part of your official duties, you must resolve the conflict before working on the particular matter affected by the interest. The DEO can provide guidance to help you find a resolution to a conflict of interest.  Certain interests may qualify for exemptions based on the nature of the interest or the total market value of the holdings.  If an interest does not qualify for an exemption, remedies for a conflict of interest may include divestiture, recusal or reassignment, a waiver from an ethics official, or resignation.

If you have any questions concerning imputed interests, conflicts of interest, or any other ethics topic, please reach out to an ethics official.  Contact information for the DOI’s Departmental Ethics Office and bureau ethics officials is available at https://www.doi.gov/ethics/bureau-office-contacts.

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