HomeGeneral Ethics Program MaterialsResourcesEthics Counselor's Deskbook

Ethics Counselor's Deskbook

A hornbook and "how
to" for Standards of
Conduct in the
Department of Defense.

Ethics Counselor's Deskbook

Each chapter addresses a separate ethics topic and provides an introduction with explanation of the applicable references to rules and regulations and ethical principles in each area. The chapters are organized by major sub-areas and generally run within those areas from most general to more specific. Some subject matter may overlap with other chapters.

Each title heading in the table below links to the relevant chapter in the current Deskbook. Also listed are links to the related presentation from the latest Ethics Counselor Course and (if available) web resources for the topic.

Introduces ethics principles, the Joint Ethics Regulation, key definitions, and the role of the ethics counselor. Provides practical advice on becoming an effective ethics counselor, including best practices, research references, operating procedures, recordkeeping, and outreach ideas. Describes what to expect when the auditor comes calling and how to prepare with regular program reviews.



Fundamentals details an effective program for handling both public and confidential financial disclosure reports (OGE 278 and OGE 450), including who files, when, and on which form. The applied financial disclosure chapter focuses on reviewing reports and identifying potentially conflicting interests.​ The Standard of Review should meet the requirements of an OGE audit. Specifically, review of reports should be two-fold. The initial review must address procedural questions. A second review is the more substantive review meant to identify potential conflicts of interest. Best practice: Ensure reviews meet OGE standards. Introduces how DoD ethics officials use the Army's secure, online Financial Disclosure Management (FDM) system to electronically manage and review the OGE 278, Public Financial Disclosure Report, and the OGE 450, Confidential Financial Disclosure Report, process.



Outlines the statutory and regulatory prohibitions on conflicting financial interests. It includes imputed interests, disqualification and waiver, impartiality, and outside employment issues.

Presentation (2020)


Provides an overview of personal gifts to individuals from outside sources, including items exempted from the definition of "gift" and exceptions to the general prohibition on gift acceptance, such as widely attended gatherings (WAGs) and awards. Also covered are gifts to the agency, gifts of travel, gifts from foreign Governments, gifts between employees, gifts to injured or wounded service members, and travel-related gifts.
Provides guidance on official support to fundraising activities directed to Government personnel, including the Combined Federal Campaign and organizations of personnel, such as the relief societies. It also addresses support for NFE events directed to the public, such as requests for endorsement, speakers, and musical support.
Presentation (2020)
Discusses ethics issues arising from second jobs, volunteer work, jury duty, and other actions outside the work place that affect Government interests.

  Outlines key provisions of seeking and negotiating employment, disqualification requirements, lifetime bars for particular matters, senior official representation back to component rules, Emoluments Clause, and more.
​Provides a comprehensive analysis of participation personally or officially in an NFE. Discusses liaisons, authorized support, DoD and co-managed (sponsored) conferences, and co-located events.
Details prohibited misuse of resources, including official time, personnel, non-public information, communications systems and other equipment.


Explains when employees may receive compensation for writing a book.
  A look at conferences from both sides. First, a "how to" for organizations running a conference, including negotiating the recent changes in funding restrictions. Second, an outline of the decision matrix for speaking at, or logistically supporting, a non-Federal entity's conference. Outlines ethical concerns in dealing with Government contractors. Includes gifts, social events, timekeeping, transportation, endorsement concerns, and more.   An overview of the interaction between Inspectors General and Officials Ethic. Contingency operations involve multiple levels of contractor support, from life support and sustainment to participation in combat operations. Most of the legal issues presented during deployment relate to procurement, fiscal, operational, and international law. There are no exceptions to the ethics and standards of conduct statutes and regulations applicable to the contractor relationship during contingency operations. Ethics Counselors should understand the laws and regulations applicable during contingency operations. This section is intended to be a checklist for deployment related ethics issues. Reviews the fiscal aspects of ethics, including expenditures of appropriated funds, by purpose, type, and time, use of ORF, EEE, and troublesome funding areas like "light refreshments," ceremonies, commander's coins and mementos. ​Discusses the world of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, including community services, family readiness groups, and more. The money is nonappropriated, the gift rules are different, and the potential ethics concerns are widespread. Discusses limits on civilian and uniformed service participation in partisan political fundraising, events, campaigns and seeking elective office. A quick note on applying ethics principles in the public affairs world. Demystifies Reserve and National Guard concerns, including status, conflict of interest prevention, financial disclosure reports, post-Government employment rules and political activity limitations. Focuses on ethical concerns in Government and Government-funded air and motor vehicle travel, including spousal travel, premium class travel, transporting contractors, home-to-work and rental car restrictions.
Presentation (2020)