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Executive Order 10939—To Provide a Guide on Ethical Standards to Government Officials

May 05, 1961

WHEREAS the maintenance of high ethical and moral standards in the conduct of the functions of the Federal Government is a matter of continuing concern, and

WHEREAS it is incumbent upon those who occupy positions of the highest responsibility and authority to set an impeccable example:

NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. This Order shall apply to all heads and assistant heads of departments and agencies, full-time members of boards and commissions appointed by the President, and members of the White House Staff.

2. No such official shall engage in any outside employment or other outside activity not compatible with the full and proper discharge of the responsibilities of his office or position. It shall be deemed incompatible with such discharge of responsibilities for any such official to accept any fee, compensation, gift, payment of expenses, or any other thing of monetary value in circumstances in which acceptance may result in, or create the appearance of, resulting in:

(a) Use of public office for private gain;

(b) An undertaking to give preferential treatment to any person;

(c) Impeding Government efficiency or economy;

(d) Any loss of complete independence or impartiality;

(e) The making of a Government decision outside official channels; or

(f) Any adverse effect on the confidence of the public in the integrity of the Government.

3. No such oficcial shall receive compensation or anything of monetary value, other than that to which he is duly entitled from the Government, for the performance of any activity during his services as such official and within the scope of his official responsibilities.

4. No such official shall receive compensation or anything of monetary value for any consultation, lecture, discussion, writing or appearance the subject matter of which (a) is devoted substantially to the responsibilities, programs or operations of the official's department or agency, or (b) draws substantially upon official data or ideas which have not become part of the body of public information.

5. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of this Order shall not preclude

(a) Receipt of bona fide reimbursement, to the extent Permitted by law, for actual expenses for travel and such other necessary subsistence as is compatible with this directive and in which no Government payment or reimbursement is made: Provided, however, That there shall be no reimbursement or payment on behalf of the offlcial for entertainment, gifts, excessive personal living expenses, or other personal benefits;

(b) Participation in the affairs of charitable, religious, non-profit educational, public service or civic organizations or the activities of national or state political parties not proscribed by law;

(c) Awards for meritorious public contribution given by public service or civic organizations.

6. Each department and agency head shall review or issue internal directives appropriate to his department or agency to assure the maintenance of high ethical and moral standards therein.

7. Nothing in this Order shall be construed to supersede, alter, or interpret any existing law or regulation.



May 5, 1961

John F. Kennedy, Executive Order 10939—To Provide a Guide on Ethical Standards to Government Officials Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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