Ethics Answers | May 2019

Ethics Answers

Question: I’m an FS-03 stationed abroad and my alma mater has invited me to campus to speak at a career day about how I transitioned from the private sector to government service. They offered to pay for my flight, hotels and meals. Can I go to event and accept these reimbursements?  

Answer: If you attend this event in your personal capacity and take annual leave, you can accept reimbursement for travel expenses. You cannot accept an honorarium. It must be clear that you are speaking in your personal capacity and any mention of your title or position should only be as part of longer biographical sketch about your background. It is best practice to review how your title and position will be used in any promotional materials. Even though you are speaking in your personal capacity, you will need to run your remarks by Public Affairs if they touch on matters that concern the Department of State. Please note that presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed employees (like ambassadors) and certain non-career personnel are subject to different rules. These types of events are sometimes tricky, and we recommend reaching out to the ethics attorneys for advice.

Ethics Answers presents hypothetical ethical scenarios Department employees might face. For help with real ethics questions, email

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