Conflict of Interest
Employees should perform all responsibilities with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism. This conduct is necessary for the fair and impartial administration of laws, regulations and policies.
Conflict of Interest: A situation in which an employee's private interests, usually financial, conflicts or raises a reasonable question of conflict with his/her official duties and responsibilities.
Below are some areas in which a conflict may arise
Outside Employment and Outside Activities
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer has determined that effective administration of its ethics program requires prior approval of specific types of outside activities including outside employment, as described below. In addition, the OCFO has identified certain activities that are specifically prohibited, as described in this section and in the sections that follow on Representation, and Specific Prohibitions on Tax-Related Activities.
Prior approval may not be necessary for activities that are religious, social, political, charitable, personal or honorary in nature. However, an employee may not engage in outside employment or any other outside activity which is not compatible with the full and proper discharge of his or her duties and responsibilities as a government employee. Questions about permissible activities must be referred to the OCFO Ethics Officer.
Employees may, with prior written approval of their supervisor and the Director of Human Resources, engage in outside employment and activities. The employment/activity must not interfere with the efficient performance of the employee's official duties. Furthermore, it must not create a real conflict of interest, or create the appearance of a conflict of interest, between the employee's private interest and the employee's duties and responsibilities with the OCFO.
As a general matter, OCFO employees are permitted to engage in outside employment and activities, such as teaching, writing, speaking engagements, and consulting, that are not prohibited by law, regulation or OCFO standards--provided that such activities are conducted outside of the employee's regular working hours, or while the employee is on annual leave or leave without pay. The OCFO Ethics Officer must review all requests for service as an expert witness and compensation for teaching, speaking or writing that relates to the employee's official duties prior to submitting the request to the Director of Human Resources for approval.
Representation as an Agent or Attorney
An OCFO employee may not represent another as an agent or attorney, with or without compensation, before an agency, officer, commission, or court in connection with any matter in which the District is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. This provision applies whether or not the employee makes a personal appearance in the proceeding.
Specific Prohibitions on Tax-Related Activities
The following activities are prohibited for all Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) employees and any OCFO employee who has been notified in writing by the OCFO that his/her position precludes such activities:
- Tax return preparation for compensation, gift or favor; employees should also limit free tax return preparation except for family, family business, and organized nonprofit projects, such as volunteers in tax assistance. This prohibition applies to all District, local, state and federal taxes
- Appearing on behalf of any taxpayer as a representative before any District, local, state or federal agency in any action involving a tax matter, except on written authorization by the Chief Financial Officer or his/her designee
- Performance of legal services involving District, local, state or federal tax matters.
- Tax related debt collection; this prohibition applies to all District, local, state and federal taxes.
- Tax and financial planning or tax counseling for compensation; this prohibition applies to all District, local, state and federal taxes
- Real Property appraisals for District properties
- Participation in real property tax sales or sales of property seized by the Office of Tax and Revenue (see restriction for family members at the end of this list)*
- Participation as an agent in real estate transactions in the District
- Title searches for District properties.
*Family members of OTR employees and designated OCFO officials, as described above, are also prohibited from participating in these activities. For this purpose, a family member is an employee's spouse/domestic partner, relatives of the employee and of the employee's spouse/domestic partner who are full time residents of the employee's household, and the employee's minor children, irrespective of residence.
Prohibition Concerning DC Government Public Auctions
Current D.C. regulations prohibit all DC government employees, their agents, or members of their households from bidding or purchasing District surplus property offered at public auction. OCFO employees are subject to this prohibition regardless of whether an OCFO agency is involved in the auction.
Prohibitions Concerning the Purchase of DC Lottery Tickets
By statute, employees of the DC Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board (DCLB) and family members are prohibited from purchasing DCLB lottery tickets and sharing and receiving DCLB lottery prizes, and they are subject to other restrictions relating to purchasing tickets in the District of Columbia for games administered by a multi-state lottery with which DCLB is associated. DCLB employees should consult the Ethics Officer for guidance.
The above-cited restrictions also apply to any OCFO employee (and family members) who has been so notified in writing by the OCFO in view of the duties of the position and relationship to DCLB operations.
Disqualification from Certain Assignments
Employees have an obligation to avoid the potential conflicts of interest that exist in their employment. Employees should not participate in a tax-related action or assignment involving the employee, a member of the employee's family, or any individual or business with which the employee or member of the employee's family or household has a personal or financial interest.
Employees have a duty to disclose and report promptly the existence or possible existence of a conflict of interest to their agency head or his/her designee. If a conflict exists, the employee should request from his/her supervisor a reassignment of any case which involves the employee's immediate family, friend, or any person or entity with whom the employee has a significant relationship.
OCFO employees who are thinking about seeking a job outside the District Government need to be aware of the legal requirements that apply to the process of looking for other work. In addition, both current and former employees should know about potential post-employment restrictions before they begin a non-Government job. These restrictions are needed to safeguard public confidence in the integrity of Government employees by preventing actual and apparent conflicts of interest. Employees should pay close attention to these requirements because they carry potential criminal and administrative sanctions.
As a general rule, an employee may not participate personally and substantially, as a government employee, in any particular matter in which a person or an organization, with whom he/she is seeking employment or has any arrangement concerning prospective employment, has a financial interest. The post-employment laws contain more detail than can be fully described in this document.
Employees who are thinking about seeking employment or are actually doing so may obtain oral or written advice on seeking other employment or the post-employment laws from the OCFO Ethics Officer. Former OCFO employees may also contact the Ethics Officer with post-employment questions.
Federal Bribery and Conflict of Interest Laws
OCFO employees generally understand that they are bound by the various laws, including criminal statutes, contained in the DC Code. However, there are certain criminal statutes in the federal criminal code that apply not only to employees of the federal government, but also to officers and employees of the District of Columbia government. These crimes, known as the Bribery and Conflict of Interest statutes, are set forth in Chapter 11 of Title 18 of the United States Code, specifically Sections, 201, 203, 205, 207, 208, 209 and 216.