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Avoiding conflicts

If you personally benefit, it’s probably illegal

Close-up of Ben Franklin's face on one hundred dollar bill
Federal law prohibits USPS employees from participating in matters in which they might have a personal financial interest.

The Postal Service’s Ethics Office wants to remind employees of the importance of complying with the rules regarding financial conflicts of interest.

Federal law prohibits government employees from taking part in matters in which they might have a personal financial interest.

This includes decisions that might affect the financial interest of a spouse or a minor child, as well as decisions that might affect an employee’s outside businesses or business partners.

Employees who violate the federal conflicts of interest law may face criminal prosecution as well as disciplinary action by the Postal Service.

“Employees who make a decision at work that affects their own financial interests could face jail time and a fine for violating a criminal law,” said Natalie Bonanno, the Postal Service’s acting chief ethics officer. “In addition, the public’s trust in the Postal Service as operating in an honest and impartial manner would be diminished. Seek advice in advance from the Ethics Office. It’s not worth it.”

Other laws prohibit government employees from:

  • Receiving anything of value given to influence an official act
  • Representing anyone, with a few exceptions, before the federal government, whether for free or for compensation
  • Making representations back to the government as a former employee in certain circumstances
  • Accepting compensation from an outside entity for performing governmental duties

The Ethics Office can help employees determine whether they should disqualify or recuse themselves, divest a conflicting financial interest, or whether there is another way to remedy the situation.

Throughout 2019, the Postal Service is educating employees about the federal government’s principles and standards of ethical conduct.

For more information, send an email to

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