Search Penny Hill Press

Friday, September 21, 2012

Post-Employment, “Revolving Door,” Laws for Federal Personnel

Jack Maskell
Legislative Attorney

Federal personnel may be subject to certain conflict of interest restrictions on private employment activities even after they leave service for the United States government. These restrictions— applicable when one enters private employment after having left federal government service—are often referred to as “revolving door” laws. For the most part, other than the narrow restrictions specific to procurement officials or bank examiners, these laws restrict only certain representational types of activities for private employers, such as lobbying or advocacy directed to, and which attempt to influence, current federal officials.

Under federal conflict of interest law, at 18 U.S.C. § 207, federal employees in the executive branch of government are restricted in performing certain post-employment “representational” activities for private parties, including (1) a lifetime ban on “switching sides,” that is, representing a private party on the same “particular matter” involving identified parties on which the former executive branch employee had worked personally and substantially for the government; (2) a two-year ban on “switching sides” on a somewhat broader range of matters which were under the employee’s official responsibility; (3) a one-year restriction on assisting others on certain trade or treaty negotiations; (4) a one-year “cooling off” period for certain “senior” officials barring representational communications to and attempts to influence persons in their former departments or agencies; (5) a new two-year “cooling off” period for “very senior” officials barring representational communications to and attempts to influence certain other highranking officials in the entire executive branch of government; and (6) a one-year ban on certain former high-level officials performing certain representational or advisory activities for foreign governments or foreign political parties.

In the legislative branch, this law applies the one-year “cooling off” period, as well as the restrictions on representations on behalf of official foreign entities and assistance in trade negotiations, to Members of the House and to senior legislative staff. United States Senators are subject to a two-year “cooling off” period in which they may not lobby Congress after leaving the Senate.

“Procurement personnel” in federal agencies are not only limited in their post-employment representational, lobbying, or advocacy activities on behalf of private entities after leaving government service, but they are also prohibited from receiving compensation from certain private contractors for a period of time after being responsible for procurement action on certain large contracts as government officials.

The provisions of an executive order issued by President Obama on January 21, 2009, impose stricter limits on certain executive branch personnel. Full time, non-career presidential and vicepresidential appointees, including non-career appointees in the Senior Executive Service, and excepted service confidential, policy-making appointees, are barred after leaving the Administration from “lobbying” any executive branch official “covered” by the Lobbying Disclosure Act (2 U.S.C. § 1602(3)), or any non-career SES appointee, for the remainder of the Administration. Additionally, all appointees who are “senior” officials subject to the statutory one-year “cooling off” period on lobbying and advocacy communications to their former agencies must now abide by such “cooling off” period for two years.

Date of Report: September 13, 2012
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R42728
Price: $29.95

To Order:

R42728.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART


Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.