The Office of Government Ethics has established Standards of
Conduct that apply to all US government employees. Within the Department of Defense, these Standards of
Conduct are implemented by the Joint Ethics Regulation, DOD 5500.7-R.
Enlisted members of the uniformed services are subject to regulations issued by
You should be familiar with your
responsibilities under these regulations and Federal conflict of interest laws.
All of the rules are derived from the following fourteen principles of ethical
conduct in Executive Order 12731.
- Public service is a public trust, requiring
employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical
principles above private gain.
- Employees shall not hold financial interests
that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty.
- Employees shall not engage in financial
transactions using nonpublic Government information or allow the improper
use of such information to further any private interest.
- An employee 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
the employee's agency, or whose interests may be substantially affected by
the performance or nonperformance of the employee's duties.
- Employees shall put forth honest effort in
the performance of their duties.
- Employees shall make no unauthorized
commitments or promises of any kind purporting to bind the Government.
- Employees shall not use public office for
- Employees shall act impartially and not give
preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.
- Employees shall protect and conserve Federal
property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.
- Employees shall not engage in outside
employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment,
that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.
- Employees shall disclose waste, fraud,
abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.
- Employees shall satisfy in good faith their
obligations as citizens, including all just financial obligations,
especially those -- such as Federal, State, or local taxes -- that are
imposed by law.
- Employees shall adhere to all laws and
regulations that provide equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of
race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or handicap.
- Employees shall endeavor to avoid any
actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the
ethical standards promulgated pursuant to this order.
Here's the bottom line? Ask yourself if a
reasonable person who knew the relevant facts may think that the law or ethical
standards had been violated. You should do okay if you avoid even the appearance
that you are violating the law or any ethical principles. Remember, violations
may subject you to administrative, civil, or even criminal penalties.
If the more detailed ethical rules described
elsewhere in this module don't cover a specific situation you are concerned
about, or if you have a question as to how any of the restrictions apply to your
particular situation, please contact your organization's ethics counselor. It is
much easier to get advice before you act, than it is to try to undo the damage
after a rule has been broken. Advice from ethics counselors is advisory only.
Ethics counselors are acting on behalf of the Government, not as your personal
representative. Your consultation with a counselor does not create an
Additional information on ethics issues is
available on the United States Office of Government Ethics web site at
and the DoD Standards of Conduct website at
Except for this introduction and the topic on Frequent Flyer Benefits, all
topics in this module are quoted verbatim from Ethics Program Topics on
the Office of Government Ethics web site.
Order (E.O.) 11222, E.O. 12674, as modified by E.O. 12731, 3 C.F.R., 1990 Comp.,
pp. 306-311; 5 C.F.R. § 2635.101.