Disqualification while seeking employment.
(a) Obligation to disqualify.
Unless the employee's participation is authorized in accordance with § 2635.605, the employee shall not participate personally and substantially in a particular matter that, to his knowledge, has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of a prospective employer with whom he is seeking employment within the meaning of § 2635.603(b). Disqualification is accomplished by not participating in the particular matter.
An employee who becomes aware of the need to disqualify himself from participation in a particular matter to which he has been assigned should notify the person responsible for his assignment. An employee who is responsible for his own assignment should take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that he does not participate in the matter from which he is disqualified. Appropriate oral or written notification of the employee's disqualification may be made to coworkers by the employee or a supervisor to ensure that the employee is not involved in a matter from which he is disqualified.
An employee need not file a written disqualification statement unless he is required by part 2634 of this chapter to file written evidence of compliance with an ethics agreement with the Office of Government Ethics or is specifically asked by an agency ethics official or the person responsible for his assignment to file a written disqualification statement. However, an employee may elect to create a record of his actions by providing written notice to a supervisor or other appropriate official.
An employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs is participating in the audit of a contract for laboratory support services. Before sending his resume to a lab which is a subcontractor under the VA contract, the employee should disqualify himself from participation in the audit. Since he cannot withdraw from participation in the contract audit without the approval of his supervisor, he should disclose his intentions to his supervisor in order that appropriate adjustments in his work assignments can be made.
An employee of the Food and Drug Administration is contacted in writing by a pharmaceutical company concerning possible employment with the company. The employee is involved in testing a drug for which the company is seeking FDA approval. Before making a response that is not a rejection, the employee should disqualify himself from further participation in the testing. Where he has authority to ask his colleague to assume his testing responsibilities, he may accomplish his disqualification by transferring the work to that coworker. However, to ensure that his colleague and others with whom he had been working on the recommendations do not seek his advice regarding testing or otherwise involve him in the matter, it may be necessary for him to advise those individuals of his disqualification.
Code of Federal Regulations
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The General Counsel of a regulatory agency wishes to engage in discussions regarding possible employment as corporate counsel of a regulated entity. Matters directly affecting the financial interests of the regulated entity are pending within the Office of General Counsel, but the General Counsel will not be called upon to act in any such matter because signature authority for that particular class of matters has been delegated to an Assistant General Counsel. Because the General Counsel is responsible for assigning work within the Office of General Counsel, he can in fact accomplish his disqualification by simply avoiding any involvement in matters affecting the regulated entity. However, because it is likely to be assumed by others that the General Counsel is involved in all matters within the cognizance of the Office of General Counsel, he would be wise to file a written disqualification statement with the Commissioners of the regulatory agency and provide his subordinates with written notification of his disqualification, or he may be specifically asked by an agency ethics official or the Commissioners to file a written disqualification statement.
A scientist is employed by the National Science Foundation as a special Government employee to serve on a panel that reviews grant applications to fund research relating to deterioration of the ozone layer. She is discussing possible employment as a member of the faculty of a university that several years earlier received an NSF grant to study the effect of fluorocarbons, but has no grant application pending. As long as the university does not submit a new application for the panel's review, the employee would not have to take any action to effect disqualification.
(d) Agency determination of substantial conflict.
Where the agency determines that the employee's action in seeking employment with a particular person will require his disqualification from matters so central or critical to the performance of his official duties that the employee's ability to perform the duties of his position would be materially impaired, the agency may allow the employee to take annual leave or leave without pay while seeking employment, or may take other appropriate administrative action.
[57 FR 35042, Aug. 7, 1992, as amended at 64 FR 13064, Mar. 17, 1999]