Executive Order 12731—Principles of Ethical Conduct for Government Officers and Employees
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish fair and exacting standards of ethical conduct for all executive branch employess, it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12674 of April 12, 1989, is henceforth modified to read as follows:
Part 1 -- PRINCIPLES OF ETHICAL CONDUCT
Section 101. Principles of Ethical Conduct. To ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, each Federal employee shall respect and adhere to the fundamental principles of ethical service as implemented in regulations promulgated under sections 201 and 301 of this order:
(a) Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.
(b) Employees shall not hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty.
(c) Employees shall not engage in financial transactions using nonpublic Government information or allow the improper use of such information to further any private interest.
(d) An employee shall not, except pursuant to such reasonable exceptions as are provided by regulation, solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary value from any person or entity seeking official action from, doing business with, or conducting activities regulated by the employee's agency, or whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's duties.
(e) Employees shall put forth honest effort in the performance of their duties.
(f) Employees shall make no unauthorized commitments or promises of any kind purporting to bind the Government.
(g) Employees shall not use public office for private gain.
(h) Employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.
(i) Employees shall protect and conserve Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.
(j) Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.
(k) Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.
(l) Employees shall satisfy in good faith their obligations as citizens, including all just financial obligations, especially those -- such as Federal, State, or local taxes -- that are imposed by law.
(m) Employees shall adhere to all laws and regulations that provide equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or handicap.
(n) Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards promulgated pursuant to this order.
Sec. 102. Limitations on Outside Earned Income.
(a) No employee who is appointed by the President to a full-time noncareer position in the executive branch (including full-time noncareer employees in the White House Office, the Office of Policy Development, and the Office of Cabinet Affairs), shall receive any earned income for any outside employment or activity performed during that Presidential appointment.
(b) The prohibition set forth in subsection (a) shall not apply to any full-time noncareer employees employed pursuant to 3 U.S.C. 105 and 3 U.S.C. 107(a) at salaries below the minimum rate of basic pay then paid for GS-9 of the General Schedule. Any outside employment must comply with relevant agency standards of conduct, including any requirements for approval of outside employment.
PART II -- OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS AUTHORITY
Sec. 201. The Office of Government Ethics. The Office of Government Ethics shall be responsible for administering this order by:
(a) Promulgating, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Office of Personnel Management, regulations that establish a single, comprehensive, and clear set of executive-branch standards of conduct that shall be objective, reasonable, and enforceable.
(b) Developing, disseminating, and periodically updating an ethics manual for employees of the executive branch describing the applicable statutes, rules, decisions, and policies.
(c) Promulgating, with the concurrence of the Attorney General, regulations interpreting the provisions of the post-employment statute, section 207 of title 18, United States Code; the general conflict-of-interest statute, section 208 of title 18, United States Code; and the statute prohibiting supplementation of salaries, section 209 of title 18, United States Code.
(d) Promulgating, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Office of Personnel Management, regulations establishing a system of nonpublic (confidential) financial disclosure by executive branch employees to complement the system of public disclosure under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. Such regulations shall include criteria to guide agencies in determining which employees shall submit these reports.
(e) Ensuring that any implementing regulations issued by agencies under this order are consistent with and promulgated in accordance with this order.
Sec. 202. Executive Office of the President. In that the agencies within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) currently exercise functions that are not distinct and separate from each other within the meaning and for the purposes of section 207(e) of title 18, United States Code, those agencies shall be treated as one agency under section 207(c) of title 18, United States Code.
PART III -- AGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES
Sec. 301. Agency Responsibilities. Each agency head is directed to:
(a) Supplement, as necessary and appropriate, the comprehensive executive branch-wide regulations of the Office of Government Ethics, with regulations of special applicability to the particular functions and activities of that agency. Any supplementary agency regulations shall be prepared as addenda to the branch-wide regulations and promulgated jointly with the Office of Government Ethics, at the agency's expense, for inclusion in Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(b) Ensure the review by all employees of this order and regulations promulgated pursuant to the order.
(c) Coordinate with the Office of Government Ethics in developing annual agency ethics training plans. Such training shall include mandatory annual briefings on ethics and standards of conduct for all employees appointed by the President, all employees in the Executive Office of the President, all officials required to file public or nonpublic financial disclosure reports, all employees who are contracting officers and procurement officials, and any other employees designated by the agency head.
(d) Where practicable, consult formally or informally with the Office of Government Ethics prior to granting any exemption under section 208 of title 18, United States Code, and provide the Director of the Office of Government Ethics a copy of any exemption granted.
(e) Ensure that the rank, responsibilities, authority, staffing, and resources of the Designated Agency Ethics Official are sufficient to ensure the effectiveness of the agency ethics program. Support should include the provision of a separate budget line item for ethics activities, where practicable.
PART IV -- DELEGATIONS OF AUTHORITY
Sec. 401. Delegations to Agency Heads. Except in the case of the head of an agency, the authority of the President under sections 203(d), 205(e), and 208(b) of title 18, United States Code, to grant exemptions or approvals to individuals, is delegated to the head of the agency in which an individual requiring an exemption or approval is employed or to which the individual (or the committee, commission, board, or similar group employing the individual) is attached for purposes of administration.
Sec. 402. Delegations to the Counsel to the President.
(a) Except as provided in section 401, the authority of the President under sections 203(d), 205(e), and 208(b) of title 18, United States Code, to grant exemptions or approvals for Presidential appointees to committees, commissions, boards, or similar groups established by the President is delegated to the Counsel to the President.
(b) The authority of the President under sections 203(d), 205(e), and 208(b) of title 18, United States Code, to grant exemptions or approvals for individuals appointed pursuant to 3 U.S.C. 105 and 3 U.S.C. 107(a), is delegated to the Counsel to the President.
Sec. 403. Delegation Regarding Civil Service. The Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Government Ethics, as appropriate, are delegated the authority vested in the President by 5 U.S.C. 7301 to establish general regulations for the implementation of this Executive order.
PART V -- GENERAL PROVISIONS
Sec. 501. Revocations. The following Executive orders are hereby revoked:
(a) Executive Order No. 11222 of May 8, 1965.
(b) Executive Order No. 12565 of September 25, 1986.
Sec. 502. Savings Provisions.
(a) All actions already taken by the President or by his delegates concerning matters affected by this order and in force when this order is issued, including any regulations issued under Executive Order 11222, Executive Order 12565, or statutory authority, shall, except as they are irreconcilable with the provisions of this order or terminate by operation of law or by Presidential action, remain in effect until properly amended, modified, or revoked pursuant to the authority conferred by this order or any regulations promulgated under this order. Notwithstanding anything in section 102 of this order, employees may carry out preexisting contractual obligations entered into before April 12, 1989.
(b) Financial reports filed in confidence (pursuant to the authority of Executive Order No. 11222, 5 C.F.R. Part 735, and individual agency regulations) shall continue to be held in confidence.
Sec. 503. Definitions. For purposes of this order, the term:
(a) "Contracting officers and procurement officials" means all such officers and officials as defined in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act Amendments of 1988.
(b) "Employee" means any officer or employee of an agency, including a special Government employee.
(c) "Agency" means any executive agency as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105, including any executive department as defined in 5 U.S.C. 101, Government corporation as defined in 5 U.S.C. 103, or an independent establishment in the executive branch as defined in 5 U.S.C. 104 (other than the General Accounting Office), and the United States Postal Service and Postal Rate Commission.
(d) "Head of an agency" means, in the case of an agency headed by more than one person, the chair or comparable member of such agency.
(e) "Special Government employee" means a special Government employee as defined in 18 U.S.C. 202(a).
Sec. 504. Judicial Review. This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch and is not intended to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.
The White House,
October 17, 1990.
George Bush, Executive Order 12731—Principles of Ethical Conduct for Government Officers and Employees Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/268062