5 CFR § 2636.103 - Advisory opinions.

§ 2636.103 Advisory opinions.

(a) Request for an advisory opinion.

(1) An employee may request an advisory opinion from an agency ethics official as to whether specific conduct which has not yet occurred would violate any provision contained in this part.

(2) An advisory opinion may not be obtained for the purpose of establishing whether a noncareer employee who is subject to the restrictions in subpart C of this part may receive compensation for teaching. An advisory opinion issued under this section may not be substituted for the advance written approval required by § 2636.307 of this part.

(3) The employee's request for an advisory opinion shall be submitted in writing, shall be dated and signed, and shall include all information reasonably available to the employee that is relevant to the inquiry. Where, in the opinion of the agency ethics official, complete information has not been provided, that official may request the employee to furnish additional information necessary to issue an opinion.

(b) Issuance of advisory opinion. As soon as practicable after receipt of all necessary information, the agency ethics official shall issue a written opinion as to whether the conduct in issue would violate any provision contained in this part. Where conduct which would not violate this part would violate another statute relating to conflicts of interest or applicable standards of conduct, the advisory opinion shall so state and shall caution the employee against engaging in the conduct.

(1) For the purpose of issuing an advisory opinion, the agency ethics official may request additional information from agency sources, including the requesting employee's supervisor, and may rely upon the accuracy of information furnished by the requester or any agency source unless he has reason to believe that the information is fraudulent, misleading or otherwise incorrect.

(2) A copy of the request and advisory opinion shall be retained for a period of 6 years.

(c) Good faith reliance on an advisory opinion. An employee who engages in conduct in good faith reliance upon an advisory opinion issued to him under this section shall not be subject to civil or disciplinary action for having violated this part. Where an employee engages in conduct in good faith reliance upon an advisory opinion issued by an ethics official of his agency to another, neither the Office of Government Ethics nor the employing agency shall initiate civil or disciplinary action under this part for conduct that is indistinguishable in all material aspects from the conduct described in the advisory opinion. However, an advisory opinion issued under this section shall not insulate the employee from other civil or disciplinary action if his conduct violates any other laws, rule, regulation or lawful management policy or directive. Where an employee has actual knowledge or reason to believe that the opinion is based on fraudulent, misleading, or otherwise incorrect information, the employee's reliance on the opinion will not be deemed to be in good faith.

(d) Revision of an ethics opinion. Nothing in this section prohibits an agency ethics official from revising an ethics opinion on a prospective basis where he determines that the ethics opinion previously issued is incorrect, either as a matter of law or because it is based on erroneous information.

[56 FR 1723, Jan. 17, 1991, as amended at 63 FR 43068, Aug. 12, 1998; 72 FR 16987, Apr. 6, 2007]