Conflicts of Interest



Ethics Counselor Toolbox.  The Toolbox is intended to provide additional resources for DoD Ethics Counselors. In it, you will find the relevant Deskbook chapter, training presentations, and other materials, such as white papers, templates, forms, and worksheets. Note: In using these tools for your own program, please ensure that you replace any references to SOCO with your ethics office contact information.


CY 24 DoD Contractors Exceeding $25,000 (FY 2023 Data)
CY 24-25 Five Year Top 10 List (FY2019-2023)
CY 24-25 Top 100 Contractor List (FY 2023)

Note:  These Handouts provide general information. They are not a substitute for obtaining advice from ethics counsel on the application of the ethics laws and regulations to a specific set of facts and circumstances.  Additionally, contractor lists are always reflective of prior fiscal year data, with the 25K List updated by mid-February each calendar year and the others updated later in the year.


The following is a summary of the law. For details and information specific to your circumstances, contact your local ethics official.

Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest is a personal interest or relationship that conflicts with the faithful performance of official duty. Under 18 U.S.C. § 208, a Federal employee is prohibited from participating personally and substantially in an official capacity in any particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or any person whose interests are imputed to him under this statute has a financial interest, if the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that interest.  Interests imputed to the employee under this statute are:

  1. Spouse
  2. ​Minor children
  3. General partner
  4. Organization in which the employee serves as an employee, officer, etc.
  5. Organization with which the employee is negotiating for or has and arrangement concerning prospective employment
Generally, the following definitions apply:
  • Participate = decision, approval, recommendation, investigation, or giving advice.
  • ​Personally = direct involvement but also includes the participation of subordinates when actually directed by the employee.
  • Substantially= participation is of significance to the matter.
  • Particular Matter =  a matter that is focused upon the interests of specific persons, or a discrete and identifiable class of persons. It typically does not include broad policy options or considerations directed toward the interest of a large and diverse group.
  • Direct = a causal link between any decision or action in the matter and any expected effect of the matter on the financial interest.
  • Predictable: - a real, as opposed to speculative possibility, that the matter will affect the financial interest (the magnitude of the gain or loss is immaterial).
  • Financial Interest =  any current or contingent ownership, equity, or security interest in real or personal property, or a business, such as ownership of financial instruments or investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate, salary, indebtedness, or a job offer.

Under 5 C.F.R. Part 2635, Subpart E, Federal employees are required to consider whether their impartiality would be questioned whenever their involvement in a particular matter involving specific parties might affect certain personal or business relationships. If a particular matter involving specific parties is likely to have a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of a member of the employee's household, or if a person with whom the employee has a "covered relationship" is or represents a party to such matter, the employee must not participate if a reasonable person would question the employee's impartiality in the matter. An employee has a covered relationship with:

  1. a person with whom the employee has or seeks a business, contractual, or other financial relationship
  2. a person who is a member of the employee's household or 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 serves or seeks 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
  5. any organization (other than a political party) in which the employee is an active participant

Depending on the situation, additional restrictions may apply; and Federal employees, whether currently in, entering, or leaving the Government, may be required to take actions to resolve or mitigate actual or the appearance of conflicts of interest. Therefore, it is imperative that employees consult with their agency ethics counselors on these issues.

Important - Political Appointees who have signed the President's Ethics Pledge may have additional restrictions.(See Other Ethics Topics under the Ethics Topics tab.)