Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture




Anti-Lobbying Act
18 U.S.C. Section 1913, prohibits the use of appropriated funds, directly or indirectly, to pay any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter or other device intended to influence a member of Congress.

Appearance of Conflict-of-Interest
A situation in which it could reasonably be concluded that an employee's private interest is in conflict with the employee's Government duties and responsibilities, even though there may not actually be such a conflict.

Authorized Departmental Officer's Designated Representative (ADODR)
An individual who is granted a written limited delegation of authority to represent the Authorized Departmental Officer (ADO) in the administration of an agreement. The individual provides administrative oversight of activities that occur under the agreement and provides technical interactions on behalf of the Agency. All ADODRs are required to file form SEB-102, Conflict of Interest Certification within 30 days of their appointment on each grant or agreement.


The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of anything of value to influence an official act of an employee. Often bribery attempts are very subtle and are preceded by attempts to do small favors for, or give gifts to, an employee. Bribery is a violation of the law. Solicitation or acceptance of a bribe by a Federal employee is one of the most serious breaches of the public trust.


Charitable Organization
An organization which is qualified with respect to deductible charitable contributions under 26 U.S.C. 170(c) because it is organized or operated exclusively for scientific, literary, educational or another specified purpose. It includes, but is not limited to, an organization exempt from Federal taxation.

Any form of consideration, remuneration or income, including royalties, transportation, lodging, and meals, whether provided "in kind," by purchase of a ticket, by payment in advance or by reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.

A situation in which a Federal employee's private interest conflicts with the full, fair, and impartial performance of Government duties and responsibilities. In other words, a situation in which a Federal employee's private interest, usually of an economic nature, conflicts with his or her Government duties and responsibilities. Conflict-of-interest statutes are contained in Chapter 11, Sections 202-209 and 216 of Title 18 U.S. Code.

A person referred to for expert or professional advice.

Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)
An official document that provides for cooperative research, licensing of patents made under these agreements, and the transfer of a technology from the Agency to another party or from another party to the Agency. A CRADA between a commercial firm and the Agency includes what provisions on research, development, and commercialization will be done by each party, what the Agency will contribute, what the commercial firm will contribute, confidentiality, publication of results, inventions, copyrights, and liability. Scientists and the Agency share licensing fees and royalties.

Covered Position
Position for which the incumbent must file a Financial Disclosure Report.

Covered Relationship
An employee has a "covered relationship" with a (1) person, other than a prospective employer with whom the employee has or seeks a business, contractual, or other financial relationship that involves other than a routine consumer transaction; (2) a person who is a member of the employee's household, or who is a relative with whom the employee has a close personal relationship; (3) a person for whom the employee's spouse, parent, or dependent child is, to the employee's knowledge, serving or seeking to serve as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor or employee; (4) any person for whom the employee has, within the last year, served as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor or employee; or (5) any organization in which the employee is a active participant.


Designated Area Ethics Advisor. Typically, the Associate Area Directors, Deputy Area Director or other designee perform this function in ARS.

A mechanism used to resolve an apparent or actual conflict of interest. A disqualified employee signs a written statement reflecting the scope of the disqualification and the precise nature of the conflicting interest or activity. The Reviewing Official monitors compliance with the statement.


Ethics in Government
That component of ethics which deals with issues of Federal employee responsibilities and conduct and situations that may involve conflict of interest.

Ethics in Science
That component of ethics which deals with scientific integrity, falsification of data, plagiarism, and scientific misconduct.

Ethics Reform Act
The most recent Ethics Reform Act was enacted in 1989 and is referred to as Public Law 101-194. It includes provisions governing post-employment restrictions on the Executive and Legislative Branch; financial disclosure of federal personnel; restrictions on gifts and travel; as well as amendments to Title 18 of the United States Code.

A case to which a rule, general principle, etc. does not apply.

Something that is not included.


Financial Interest
Broadly defined, any monetary interest of a Government employee, the spouse, minor child, general partner, or entity the employee serves as officer, director, trustee, general partner, or employee.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Disclosure statute, 5 U.S.C. 552, designed to allow ease of access to documents held by the administrative agencies of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.


Almost anything of monetary value, unless consideration of equal or greater value is received by the donor, including any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value such as services as well as gifts of training, transportation, local travel, lodgings, and meals. The following things are not considered gifts: loans and discounts available to the public or to all Federal employees for their private use; inexpensive refreshments, plaques, certificates, trophies, rewards, prizes, and anything paid for by the Government or secured by the Government under Government contract.


Hatch Act
The Hatch Act, Title 5 U.S. Code Chapter 73, prohibits Federal employees from engaging in certain political activities. See the Office of Special Counsel website for more information.

Honoraria Ban of 1991
Special Note: On February 22, 1995, the Supreme Court declared the Honoraria Ban unconstitutional for employees graded GS-15 and below. One year later, on February 26, 1996, the Department of Justice determined prohibitions of the Honoraria Ban could not be enforced against any employee. Regardless of the sunset of the Honoraria Ban two statutory prohibitions remain. All employees are prohibited from accepting compensation from outside sources for services as employees of the Executive Branch. Except in very specific instances, all employees are prohibited from receiving compensation for teaching, speaking, or writing that relates to their official duties.

Payment of money or anything of value for an appearance, speech, article, or service.


Imputed Interest
The financial interests of the following persons which could cause a conflict of interest for an employee:

  • The employee's spouse;
  • The employee's minor child;
  • The employee's general partner;
  • An organization or entity which the employee serves as an officer, director, trustee, general partner or employee; and 
  • A person with whom the employee is negotiating for or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment.

Interested Party
Less preferred term for a prohibited source.

Any process, art, method, machine, manufacture, design, composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, or any variety of plant or other biological entity which is patentable or otherwise protectable under the laws of the U.S.




A grant to commercially make, use, and/or sell an invention.

Exclusive License
The licensing of an invention to only one licensee.

Nonexclusive License
The licensing of an invention to more than one licensee.

Partially Exclusive License
A license granted occasionally to a very limited number of licensees, for example, for specific fields of use or in a specific geographic area, or both.



Nonofficial Information Material
Information on the official work of an Agency employee that was not prepared on official Government time for non-USDA publication or presentation.


Official Duty Activity
Any activity that may be performed during work hours, using Government resources and at Government expense.

OGE Form 450
Ethics Forms Library

Confidential Financial Disclosure Report. Must be filed by employees in certain designated positions in which duties include contracting, procurement, administration of grants and licenses, regulating or auditing of non-Federal entities, or activities having a substantial economic effect on non-Federal entities.

OPM Standards of Conduct Regulations
5 C.F.R. Part 735, a reissue of certain uniform standards of conduct regulations, complementing the uniform standards of ethical conduct issued by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) (5 C.F.R. Part 2635). The OPM (Office of Personnel Management) regulation provides for restriction on certain gambling activities, conduct prejudicial to the Government, and the special preparation of persons for civil service and foreign service examinations, topics not included in OGE's Standards of Ethical Conduct.

Outside Activity/Employment
Any work, service or activity that is not part of an employee's official duties. It includes, but is not limited to, writing, editing, publishing, teaching, lecturing, consulting services, self- employment, working for another employer, management or operation of a private business, personally-owned business, partnership, or corporation or any work performed with or without compensation.


A right that a government grants to a specific person or group to allow the holder to control who makes or sells the product or uses the process covered by the patent and to prosecute anyone doing any of these things without a license.

Post-Employment Restrictions
Regulations that prohibit former Federal employees from communicating with current Federal employees with the intent of influencing their/the Agency's actions in matters in which the former employee participated while working for the Federal Government.

Professional Association
A nonprofit, cooperative, voluntary organization of individuals having a common background in a professional, technical, or managerial field of work, requiring knowledge and skills normally acquired only after extensive training or education. Officer positions include, but are not limited to: President, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, trustee, board member, committee chairman, and editor-in-chief.

Prohibited Source
Any entity having financial dealings with the USDA, seeking to do business with the USDA, conducting activities regulated by the USDA or having interests that may be "substantially affected" by the performance or nonperformance of a particular employee's assigned duties. A "prohibited source" may also be an organization a majority of whose members fit any of the above categories.



Less preferred term for a disqualification.


SF-278 (now known as OGE-278)
Ethics Forms Library
Public Financial Disclosure Report must be filed by employees in certain designated positions such as SES, SL, and ST pay plan employees, or employees paid 120% of the GS-15 level.

Special Government Employee
Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch
5 C.F.R. Part 2635, ethical conduct standards rule issued by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics with an effective date of February 3, 1993. The regulations provide guidelines by which a reasonable person with knowledge of all of the relevant facts can make an ethical decision.


Technology Transfer
The development, utilization, and commercialization of research.

Technology Transfer Act of 1986
Public Law 99-502, promotes technology transfer by authorizing Government-operated laboratories to enter into cooperative research agreements with other Federal agencies, units of State or local government, industrial organizations, public and private foundations, or nonprofit organizations and mandates that inventors receive at least 15% of the royalties received by a Federal agency from the licensing or assignment of inventions under cooperative research and development agreements, if the inventor was an employee of the agency at the time the invention was made.