Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture

Suggestions to Avoid Ethics Problems

Here are some suggestions to avoid problems with conflict of interest and loss of impartiality.




Avoid situations where your official actions affect or appear to affect your private interests, financial or non-financial.


Avoid making official decisions or taking official action in matters in which you, your spouse, minor child or partner has a financial interest.

(This also applies if an organization in which you serve as an officer, director, trustee, partner, employee or prospective employee has a financial interest with the Department.)


Do not use official confidential information for personal gain.

Do not make an investment that is likely to conflict with your official duties or that is based on confidential information.

Be sensitive to statutory prohibition on the misuse of information involving national security, trade secrets, private individual and Government procurement.


Avoid decisions/actions that appear to give another party an unfair advantage.


Avoid the appearance of being controlled or influenced by private or outside interests.

Resolutions for
Conflict of Interest

Options for the resolution of a conflict of interest include:

  • Disqualifying yourself from taking official action that could affect your personal interest;
  • Requesting a waiver; or
  • Divesting yourself of a conflicting financial interest. (Contact your Agency/Area Ethics Advisor before volunteering to divest.)


If you have a conflict of interest, or wish to ask questions regarding conflict of interest or loss of impartiality, contact your Agency/Area Ethics Advisor or the USDA Office of Ethics – Science Ethics Branch.