Office of General Counsel

USU Courtyard



Ethics FAQ

Ethics Question? Contact one of us in person, by telephone or E-mail and we will be happy to assist; or check out our Frequently Asked Questions on topics such as "outside employment" and "honoraria".

Basic Obligation of Public Service

Public service is a public trust. Each employee has a responsibility to the United States Government and its citizens to place loyalty to the Constitution, laws and ethical principles above private gain. To ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, each employee shall respect and adhere to the principles of ethical conduct stated below and in implementing standards contained in 5 C.F.R § 2635 as amended at 76 FR 38547 (July 1, 2011), and in the Joint Ethics Regulation, DoD 5500.7-R.

General principles. The following 14 general principles apply to every employee:

  1. Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws and ethical principles above private gain.
  2. Employees shall not hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty.
  3. Employees shall not engage in financial transactions using nonpublic Government information or allow the improper use of such information to further any private interest.
  4. An employee shall not, except as permitted by Subpart B of 5 C.F.R. 2635, 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.
  5. Employees shall put forth honest effort in the performance of their duties.
  6. Employees shall not knowingly make unauthorized commitments or promises of any kind purporting to bind the Government.
  7. Employees shall not use public office for private gain.
  8. Employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.
  9. Employees shall protect and conserve Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.
  10. Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.
  11. Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part. Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.


Orientation - ALL NEW EMPLOYEES are required to check in at the General Counsel's Office during in-processing. Each new employee receives written materials prepared by the DoD Standards of Conduct Office. The pamphlet is entitled, "Employees' Guide to the Standards of Conduct". It may also be found in the "Reference" section of this web site immediately below. If you have any questions about the material in the Guide or are not permitted the time to review the Guide, contact the General Counsel's Office at 295-3028.

Annual - Those who are required to fill out financial disclosure statements, either the public financial disclosure statement (SF-278) or the confidential financial disclosure statement (OGE Form 450), are required to receive annual training on the standards of conduct. If this requirement applies to you, you will be contacted individually.


The Joint Ethics Regulation, DoD5500.7-R, is the Department of Defense's comprehensive ethics regulation. DoD5500.7-R including changes 1-6 (Word format).

DoD has put out a handbook called the Employee's Guide to Standards of Conduct. It provides a good general summary of the rules and may be downloaded below.

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has put out a number of useful guidance which may be accessed from their website:

Commonly Used OGC Ethics Forms

Post Government Advice

If you are seeking a job outside the Federal Government or have left your employment at USU and need advice as to applicable regulations, please do not hesitate to contact an ethics official.