7-15 Conflicts of Interest

7-15.1 Financial Conflicts of Interest (Postal Service Employees)

7-15.1.1 General

Postal Service employees are prohibited from participating officially in any particular matter in which, to the employee’s knowledge, he/she or any person whose interests are imputed to him/her has a financial interest, if the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that interest. For purposes of this law, the financial interests of the following persons will serve to disqualify an employee to the same extent as if they were the employee’s own interests: (1) the employee’s spouse; (2) the employee’s minor child; (3) the employee’s general partner; (4) an organization or entity in which the employee serves as officer, director, trustee, general partner or employee; and (5) a person with whom the employee is negotiating for or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment.

Postal Service employees who identify a financial conflict of interest in the course of their work must immediately contact ethics counsel to determine (1) whether he/she must recuse him/herself from the contracting activity; (2) if the employee is eligible for a statutory waiver which would allow the employee to participate despite the conflict of interest; or (3) if the Postal Service is entitled to order the employee to divest the conflicting financial interest. Under no circumstance may an employee participate in the matter in which the employee has identified a conflict until written advice approving such participation is provided by ethics counsel.

7-15.1.2 Avoiding the Appearance of the Loss of Impartiality in Performing Official Duties

Postal Service employees must avoid taking any actions that could lead to an appearance that the employee has lost his/her ability to remain impartial in performing his/her official duties. Additionally, Postal Service employees must ensure that the performance of their official duties do not give rise to an appearance of the misuse of public office for private gain. Therefore, any employee involved in a contracting activity must disclose, to the contracting officer, any personal or business relationship the employee has with any third-party that may have a direct or indirect interest in the contract matter at hand. Unless a Postal Service employee has received prior authorization from ethics counsel to proceed, an employee cannot participate in a contract matter that may lead a reasonable person with the relevant facts to question the employee’s ability to remain impartial in the matter.

Contracting officers should refer to the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR Part 2635 or seek ethics counseling whenever there is a question regarding an ethical obligation in any contracting activity. Ethics counsel will advise the contracting officer and the employee if the Postal Service’s best interests will be served by the employee’s participation in the matter or if the employee must be disqualified from these activities.