President Biden issued an Executive Order on January 20, 2021, requiring every political appointee to sign an ethics pledge. The Ethics Pledge contains nine provisions, including a ban on receiving gifts from lobbyists and restrictions on activities related to former employers and on future employment after leaving Federal service. The Ethics and Appeals Division is available to help any political appointee understand the application of the pledge.
Who signs the Ethics Pledge?
Political appointees, who have been appointed since January 20, 2021 must sign the pledge. This includes:
full-time, non-career Presidential or Vice-Presidential appointee
non-career appointee in the Senior Executive Service (or other SES-type system), and
appointee to a position that has been excepted from the competitive service by reason of being of a confidential or policymaking character (Schedule C and other positions excepted under comparable criteria) in an executive agency.
Please review OGE’s DAEOgram for information regarding who is required to sign the Ethics Pledge.
Effects of the Ethics Pledge on Political Appointee Activity
Prohibition on Gifts from Lobbyist/Registered Lobbying Organizations
Political appointees agree not to “accept gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations for the duration of [his/her] service as an appointee.” There are a number of exceptions regarding this rule that can be reviewed in an OGE DAEOgram on the issue.
Revolving Door Ban
The Pledge requires that an appointee not, for a period of two years following the appointment, participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to his or her former employer or former clients, including regulation and contracts. OGE has provided detailed guidance on the applicability of this restriction in a DAEOgram on the issue.
- Communicating with Former Agency Employees: The Pledge requires appointees covered by 18 U.S.C. §207(c) to abide by those restrictions.
- Lobbying Activities: The Pledge requires all appointees to agree not to lobby any covered executive branch official or non-career Senior Executive Service appointee for the remainder of the Administration. This restriction commences upon termination of the appointee’s government service and applies to lobbying officials throughout the Executive Branch, not just officials of the agency where the former appointee actually served. The appointee also agrees to not engage in any lobbying activities with respect to the former appointee’s agency for a period of 5 years after termination of employment as an appointee. OGE has issued a DAEOgram (link LA-17-03) that covers issues regarding lobbying activities. It does not prohibit lobbying members of the Legislative Branch.
- Foreign Government Activities: The Pledge restricts an appointee from engaging in any activity on behalf of a foreign government or foreign political party which would require the appointee to register as a Foreign Agent.