Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture

USDA Ethics Issuances




DATE: March 6, 2002 (Last Updated 6 May 2004)

SUBJECT: Notifying the Office of Ethics of Approvals of Outside Employment for Filers of SF 278, Public Financial Disclosure Report, and Departmental Administration and Staff Office filers of the OGE Form 450, Confidential Financial Disclosure Report.

1. Purpose

This document establishes procedures to follow when approval for outside employment is granted to those employees identified below in Section 3 (Scope) below.

2. Authority

In accordance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (Standards), at 5 CFR § 2635.803, the Department has issued a supplemental regulation requiring employees who file either a public (SF 278) or confidential (OGE Form 450) financial disclosure report to obtain prior approval before engaging in outside employment. See the Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Department of Agriculture (Supplement), 5 CFR § 8301.102. The Standards, at 5 CFR § 2635.105 (c), authorize internal procedures for documenting or processing any determination, approval, or other action required or permitted by the Standards or Supplement, or for retaining any such documentation. The latter is the specific authority for this issuance.

3. Scope

This procedure applies to the following employees:

  1. SF 278 filers (all within USDA); and
  2. OGE Form 450 filers employed by the following organizations:
    • Office of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary;
    • Departmental Administration;
    • Office of Congressional Relations;
    • Office of the Chief Financial Officer;
    • Office of the Chief Information Officer;
    • Office of Communications;
    • Office of Budget and Program Analysis;
    • Office of the Chief Economist;
    • Office of the Executive Secretariat;
    • National Appeals Division;
    • Office of the General Counsel; and
    • Any other office or staff whose employees file the OGE Form 450 with Office of Ethics (OE);

4. Definitions and Delegations

Covered Employee. For purposes of this issuance, the term "covered employee" means an employee described in Section 3 (Scope).

Employment. For purposes of this issuance, "employment" means any form of non-Federal employment or business relationship or activity involving the provision of personal services by the employee for direct, indirect, or deferred compensation other than reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses. It also includes, irrespective of compensation, the following outside activities:

  1. Providing services as a consultant or professional, including service as an expert witness or as an attorney; and
  2. Providing services to a for-profit entity as an officer, director, employee, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor, general partner, or trustee, which involves decision making or policymaking for the non-Federal entity, or the provision of advice or counsel.

For delegations and additional definitions, see Ethics Issuance 02-2, Delegations of Authority and Responsibility.

5. General

A "covered employee," other than a special Government employee, shall, before engaging in outside employment, obtain prior approval under the terms of the Supplement at 5 CFR § 8301.102(a) and submit a copy of such approval to the Office of Ethics (OE). Employees of USDA mission areas who file the SF 278 should also submit a copy of the approval to their respective mission area ethics advisor.

6. General Policies

Public and Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports disclose outside employments; therefore, the Deputy Ethics Official who reviews a report in OE must have knowledge of the prior approval of outside employment to perform his or her duties. Submission of the prior approval of outside employment with the Form SF 278 or OGE Form 450 is a reliable way for OE to obtain the document.

6.1 Responsibility of Filer.

Each filer will provide a copy of his or her documentation of prior approval at the earlier of the following (1) within 30 working days of receiving approval, or (2) with the next OGE Form 450 that the employee files, subsequent to receiving approval. Further, upon a change in the filer's relationsihp with the outside employer or in the filer's official position, the filer shall submit a revised request for approval in accordance with the time limits set forth above.

6.2 Responsibility of Reviewer.

The person reviewing the SF 278 or OGE Form 450 will ensure that:

  1. Prior approval for each outside employment is filed with the report;
  2. Requirements of the Standards and Supplement for approval have been met; and
  3. The employee’s request received an appropriate review and decision.

The reviewer will obtain additional information from the filer, from the official granting the prior approval, or from other sources that he or she determines is needed to ensure the appropriateness of the decision to grant prior approval. Deputy Ethics Officials or their designees may consult with the Office of Ethics prior to making a decision on a request from an employee for prior approval of outside employment.

OE is working towards true electronic filing of financial disclosure reports. When the electronic filing process is implemented, filers using the electronic process will not submit a paper financial disclosure report to OE; nevertheless, they will be expected to forward a copy of their approval for outside employment to OE under the timetable set forth in 6.1 above.


John Surina
Designated Agency Ethics Official