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

Post-Employment, “Revolving Door,” Laws for Federal Personnel, Jack Maskell, Legislative Attorney. January 7, 2014 

“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. Section 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 high ranking 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.”


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