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Activities with Outside Organizations

The following table provides an illustration for determining if a particular activity with an outside organization should be conducted as an Official Duty Activity or as an Outside Activity. Prior approval is required for Outside Activities using Form HHS-520; many Official Duty Activities also require prior approval based on your IC's policy. See NIH Policy Manual Chapter 2400-01. Also, see the NIH Ethics Program website.

Features of the Activity with the Outside Organization Official Duty Outside Activity
Work is related to, or an extension of, employee's official duties. X  
Work involves use of employee's current and/or unpublished work. Current means any project or undertaking performed within the last 12 months. X  
Work involves employee's previous work performed prior to the last 12 months and using publicly disclosed information. Employee may briefly discuss or mention current work.   X
Work involves an employee's general scientific or professional expertise or the policies of the outside organization.   X
Employee may have official business dealings with an outside organization. X  
Employee may receive compensation for performing the activity.   X
Employee may participate in the business affairs of the outside organization, including personnel actions, financial management or fund-raising activities.   X
Employee performs work on Government time.* X  
Employee uses Government resources (equipment, supplies, or staff). * X  
Employee uses Government space and meeting rooms. X  
Employee uses official title to promote attendance at events. X  

* In some instances, limited Government resources and time may be used for an Outside Activity which is marginally related to official duties. Contact your Deputy Ethics Counselor or Ethics Coordinator for specifics.

Criteria That Apply to Both Outside Work and Official Duty Activities

  • An employee may not represent an outside organization or serve as an expert witness before any Government body in which NIH, HHS, or the U.S. has a direct and substantial interest, unless authorized by your Institute or Center. In some situations, authorization by the Designated Agency Ethics Official is required.
  • The employee's activities may not constitute or present a real or apparent conflict of interest. The employee may not engage in any activity if the performance of the employee's official duties could affect his/her personal financial interests and those of his/her spouse and minor children. The employee must also avoid any situation or activity that gives rise to an appearance of a conflict of interest. This can occur when an employee is involved in a particular matter involving outside parties and the circumstances are such that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would question the employee's impartiality.
  • The employee may receive payment for actual travel and other expenses. For an official duty activity, the outside organization may reimburse the government for travel and other expenses related to the activity. An employee offered reimbursement must follow the guidelines governing reimbursements from non-Federal sources, e.g., HHS Form 348 (Request and Approval for Acceptance of Payment of Travel Expenses from a Non-Federal Source). For certain outside activities, the outside organization may make a direct payment to the employee for travel and related expenses. These activities must be approved in advance via Form HHS-520.
  • NIH has an interest in activities that require the employee to use his/her professional qualifications readily identified with his/her employment at NIH, activities involving board, council, commission membership, and activities which required specialized licenses or training. An employee may decide to moonlight, for example working in a performing arts company, teaching aerobics, working in a retail outlet or refinishing furniture as a side occupation. An employee may engage in these types of activities without requesting prior approval.
  • Awards and Honorary Degrees: Approval is required prior to receiving awards and honorary degrees. Complete the appropriate approval form (NIH Policy Manual Chapter 2400-01).

First Established:
Thursday, February 4, 1999 - 9:00am

The page was last updated on Monday, April 29, 2019 - 2:06pm