This website is an archive (as of 09/21/2020) and will no longer be updated. Please visit our newly redesigned website on and update any bookmarks or links you may have.

United States Office of Government Ethics, Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive Branch

Selected Employee Categories

Several criminal and civil statutes, executive orders, and an administrative code of conduct are central to the executive branch ethics program. Notably:

  • Executive branch ethics provisions generally apply only to Government “employees.”
  • Some executive branch ethics provisions apply only to certain categories of employees or apply differently to certain categories of employees or not at all.
  • Executive branch ethics provisions generally do not apply to “representatives” serving on an advisory committee or to independent contractors.
Political Appointees
Political appointees are subject to more ethics restrictions than regular executive branch employees.

Advisory Committee Members
Executive branch ethics provisions apply to “employees” who serve on advisory committees, including employees who qualify as special Government employees, but do not apply to committee members who serve as “representatives” or who are independent contractors.

If an employee is temporarily assigned (“detailed”) to another position, there may or may not be an effect on the applicability of various ethics provisions.

Special Government Employees
Some ethics provisions that apply to executive branch employees apply differently to an employee who qualifies as a “special Government employee” (SGE), or do not apply at all. Congress created the SGE category in 1962 in connection with a major revision of the criminal conflict of interest statutes.