Home / Program Offices / General Counsel / Post-Government Employment
Post-Government Employment

Executive branch employees’ experience and expertise may make them excellent candidates for private sector employment. If an executive branch employee is seeking post-Government employment and the employee’s Government work offers the opportunity to benefit a potential employer, the public may be concerned that the employee will do that work in a way that favors the prospective employer. After leaving Government, a former executive branch employee could make unfair use of prior Government employment to influence Government action on behalf of another person or organization. Therefore, there are several statutes and regulations governing the types of activities that current and former government employees may have while seeking non-Government employment and after leaving Government service.

Seeking Non-Governmental Employment

A Federal criminal statute, 18 U.S.C § 208, prohibits a Federal employee from participating in any particular matter that will affect the financial interests of a prospective employer with which the employee is negotiating prospective employment, or with which the employee has an agreement for future employment. A Government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct regulation, 5.C.F.R. part 2635, Subpart F, broadens the prohibition to those employees seeking employment. On April 4, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (the STOCK Act), which requires employees who file a public financial disclosure form (OGE-278) to notify the Ethics and Appeals Law Division within three days of commencing negotiations or an agreement for employment.

Stock Act

Notification Statement: The Government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct regulation at 5 C.F.R. § 2635.607 implements the statutory notification requirements under section 17 of the STOCK Act. Under the regulation, a public financial disclosure filer, who is negotiating employment or who has an agreement of future employment or compensation with a non-Federal entity, must file a statement notifying an agency ethics official of the negotiation or agreement within three business days after commencement of the negotiation or agreement. The notification must be in writing, signed by the filer and include the name of the non-Federal entity involved in the negotiation or agreement and the date the negotiation or agreement commenced. Only one notification is required if the filer has complied with the notification requirement during the negotiation phase. The filer is not required to submit a separate notification when an agreement for future employment or compensation is reached with the previously identified non-Federal entity.

Recusal: The filer is required to file a recusal with the agency ethics official whenever there is a conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest with the non-Federal entity identified in the notification statement. The notification statement and recusal may be in the same document or separate documents.

Advance Filing: The Office of Government Ethics encourages advance filing of the notification statement and recusal when the filer anticipates a realistic possibility of negotiations or an agreement. Failure to make an advance filing does not violate this provision.

Post-Government Employment

A Federal criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 207, prohibits a former executive branch employee from participating in a number of actions after leaving government service. The following are a few of the frequent prohibitions, though there are others that may be applicable in certain circumstances.

  • Lifetime Ban

    • A former Federal employee may not knowingly represent a third party before the Government regarding particular matters involving specific parties that the employee worked on while in Government service. See 18 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).

  • Two-Year Ban

    • A former Federal employee may not, for two years after leaving Government service, represent a third party before the Government regarding particular matters involving specific parties that were pending under the employee’s responsibility during the employee’s last year of Government service. See 18 U.S.C. § 207(a)(2).

  • One-Year “Cooling Off” Period

    • A former senior employee may not, for one year after leaving Government service, knowingly make any communication to or appearance before any employee of the Department on behalf of any other person (except the U.S. or Congress) with the intent to influence any matter. See 18 U.S.C. § 207(c).