The JPL Ethics Office

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest is a situation in which our official responsibilities as JPL employees conflict with, or appear to conflict with our private or personal interests. These conflicts could involve customers, suppliers, active or former employees, sponsors, or even members of the communities in which we live and work.

While most ethics issues involve a conflict of interest of some type, many are categorized specifically. The balance fall into the following three areas:

  • Personal Conflict of Interest: Personal conflicts of interest arise when actions occur that are influenced or are perceived to be influenced by a desire for personal gain to the detriment of the Laboratory or fellow employees. The gain could be for the benefit of the employee, or a relative, or a close friend.

  • Business Conflict of Interest: A business conflict of interest arises when an individual's actions are influenced or are perceived to be influenced by the outside business involvement of the individual, a relative, or a close friend.

  • Procurement Conflict of Interest: Any personal or business conflict of interest involving an organization that is presently acting as, or is competing to become, a vendor or contractor for the Laboratory, or any government agency.


Personal Conflict of Interest:

  • An employee campaigns to attend a conference with little or no business value so he can vacation in the area of the conference.

  • A traveler uses an airline that costs more to obtain frequent flyer miles/credit for use in personal vacation trips.

  • Providing employment opportunities for a close friend or relative to work under your supervision or control.

Business Conflict of Interest:

  • Failure to take appropriate action against a contractor that is not performing because of financial ties with the contractor.

  • A business owned by your spouse wants to compete with the Laboratory for work using technology you developed at the Laboratory.

  • You refuse to work overtime on a critical project because of an outside job.

  • Using insider information about a contractor to make personal investment decisions.

Procurement Conflict of Interest:

  • Influencing decisions on procurements from a company owned by a friend or relative.

  • An engineer produces a favorable evaluation of a product made by a company in which he holds stock.

  • Participation on a board evaluating a contractor or vendor for whom a close friend or relative works.

  • Taking a part-time job with a vendor with whom you have handled procurements.