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News | March 31, 2021

Employee investments could be a conflict of interest

By DLA Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency General Counsel reminds employees that while investing in the stock market is easier than ever, there may be limitations on what stock they can own.

If employees’ duties involve interacting with a company they’ve invested money in, they may be violating 18 U.S.C. Section 208, a criminal statute, said DLA Ethics Counselor Claes Lewenhaupt. 

“You cannot buy or own stock, for example, with Amazon, Microsoft or Dell, and then participate in a contract between DLA and one of those companies without potentially violating the statute,” he said.

DLA is one of the largest buying agencies in the government and contracts with thousands of companies, he added. DLA ethics counselors can help employees determine if a true conflict of interest exists between the stock owner and their duties.  

Employees who are required to file financial disclosure forms must report the stocks they own as well as the investments of their spouse or dependent children. 

“If your spouse or dependent children own stock in a company, it is imputed to you – it’s like you own it,” Lewenhaupt said, adding this is true even if the stock is in a spouse’s Individual Retirement Account or 401K. 

“Before you get in the game, take ‘stock’ of what your official duties are and whether you might be creating a conflict of interest when purchasing a stock,” he said.

DLA's General Counsel staff reminds employees that even during the pandemic and mass telework, they should remain vigilant and aware of potential conflicts of interest. DLA leaders are committed to ensuring employees uphold high ethical standards as they support warfighters and whole of government while remaining accountable to the American taxpayers.

For more information and answers to other ethics questions, employees can go to DLA’s ethics page.