The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The Outreach and Education function engages, empowers and educates the Second District communities that the Bank serves, especially civic leaders, students, educators, small business owners, policymakers and the general public. It furthers the Bank's commitment to the region by listening to the communities we serve and leveraging our unique attributes to positively impact school and university programs, as well as analysis and research.
The New York Fed’s Code of Conduct outlines its principles and standards for employee conduct, including rules for avoiding actual and apparent conflicts of interest.
Conflicts of Interest Rules
New York Fed employees are subject to the same conflict of interest statute that applies to federal government employees (18 U.S.C. Section 208). Under Section 208 and the New York Fed’s code of conduct, a Bank employee is prohibited from participating personally and substantially in an official capacity in any particular matter in which, to the employee's knowledge, the employee has a financial interest if the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that interest. Participation in a particular matter may include making a decision or recommendation, providing advice, or taking part in an investigation.
New York Fed employees are also not permitted to own or control investments in depository institutions or affiliates of depository institutions. Employees are also prohibited from investing in certain thrift holding companies and funds that have a state policy of concentrating their investments in the financial services sector. Additionally, staff members in the Markets Group and those with regular and ongoing access to Class I Federal Open Market Committee information may not own or control investments in a primary dealer or an entity that directly or indirectly controls a primary dealer.
In order to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, New York Fed employees are generally not permitted to accept anything of value from a supervised institution or anyone that does business or seeks to do business with the New York Fed. This prohibition applies to gifts, meals, favors and entertainment.
All serious job candidates are required to complete a detailed financial disclosure form, which asks candidates to provide information about their financial interests, loans, pensions, and outside activities. An Ethics Office staff member reviews each candidate's form and explains the New York Fed's conflict of interest rules. These preemployment conversations allow the Ethics Office to identify any divestiture obligations or restrictions that would need to be placed on a candidate's duties, if hired by the New York Fed—thereby avoiding any potential conflicts of interest.
All New York Fed employees are subject to post-employment restrictions that are designed to prevent the appearance of undue influence on New York Fed actions. Specifically, former employees are not permitted to contact the New York Fed concerning particular matters on which the former employees participated while employed by the New York Fed. In addition, certain senior employees are prohibited from contacting the Bank on business for a period of up to one year after terminating their employment.
Heightened Rules for Examiners New York Fed employees who examine financial institutions are subject to more stringent rules regarding conflicts of interest. Examiners are restricted from examining institutions based on borrowing relationships, past employment, pension interests and relatives working in the banking industry. Examiners are also subject to special post-employment restrictions.
The Ethics Office conducts regular training for employees of the Bank to enhance employees’ understanding of the reasons behind the rules and help them recognize their ethics responsibilities as Bank employees. The Ethics Office’s training programs promote ethical thinking, discussion and decisionmaking, fostering the Bank’s ethical culture. Among the programs:
The Ethics Office requires Bank staff to complete an annual Code of Conduct certification to attest that they have read and will adhere to the code.
The Acquisition Policy requires all staff members involved in Bank procurements of $100,000 or more to annually complete a conflicts of interest briefing on Section 208. Procurement team members are also required to complete a certification form to attest that they understood the conflicts of interest rules and had no conflicts of interest with potential bidders.
The Ethics Office ensures that new hires are quickly acclimated into the Bank’s ethical culture. Within the first week of employment, new hires receive a course that teaches them about the Bank’s conflict of interest rules, accepting gifts, meals and entertainment, outside activities and post-employment restrictions.
Financial Disclosure Reports and Waivers
The New York Fed requires that a large number of staff members file a confidential financial disclosure report.
These forms require the employee to disclose information about assets, liabilities, outside activities, gifts received, and other circumstances that might constitute an actual or potential conflict of interest or a violation of applicable law or Bank policy. An employee’s position and access to sensitive information determine the particular report that must be filed.
Among those required to file some form of report are the president and first vice president, Markets Group personnel, the Director of Research, staff members with access to Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) information, Financial Institution Supervision Group personnel, all Reserve Bank officers and senior staff, any member of the management group in a valuables handling area, and employees:
Whose duties and responsibilities require that he or she participate personally and substantially through decisionmaking or the exercise of significant judgment in taking action regarding contracting or procurement;
Whose duties and responsibilities require that he or she participate personally and substantially in any supervisory matter, examination, application, investigation, etc., concerning a
depository institution (DI) or any affiliate or subsidiary of a DI.
The financial disclosure process ensures staff compliance with the conflicts of interest rules and personal investment guidelines outlined in the Code of Conduct. The Ethics Office performs a comprehensive disclosure report review.
New York Fed employees are subject to a number of ethics rules and policies. Any proposed waiver to those rules and policies is subject to careful review and consideration before it is granted.
Bank Stock and Financial Interest Waivers
These waivers are issued to employees to allow them to retain debt or equity interests in depository institutions and their affiliates, despite the Code’s general prohibition against owning such interests. A waiver is issued only if extenuating circumstances exist and if an employee’s disqualification from working on particular matters related to the financial interest would not unduly interfere with the full performance of the employee’s duties.
Section 208 Waiver
Pursuant to Section 208(b)(1) of Title 18 of the United States Code, these waivers are issued by the president or first vice president. These waivers allow an employee to work on a particular matter even though the employee has a financial interest that might be affected by the matter because the
employee’s participation is critically important to the Bank and the financial interest is not so significant that it would compromise the employee’s judgment.
In order for an employee to participate in an examination or supervisory matter concerning an institution from which an employee is entitled to receive a pension, the Federal Reserve
Administrative Manual (FRAM) requires a pension waiver. These waivers are based on an opinion by the Office of Government Ethics that a pension interest does not necessarily constitute a “financial interest” that requires recusal under the criminal conflict of interest statute.
However, if the pension is a defined benefit plan, the employee is restricted from working on matters that would affect the institution’s solvency, and therefore, its ability to pay the employee’s pension benefits. In the case of a pension where the plan sponsor serves as plan trustee, the employee is also restricted from working on matters related to the plan sponsor’s trust activities.
These waivers are issued under the Federal Reserve
Administrative Manual (FRAM), which prohibits employees from examining or participating in supervisory matters involving a financial institution if a member of the employee’s immediate family is employed by that institution.
Recusal is not required if the employee’s supervisor, in consultation with the Ethics Office, determines that no conflict of interest—or appearance thereof—would result from the assignment. Factors considered in this determination include: a) the family member’s position in the institution, b) the employee’s level of responsibility in the matter, and c) the need for the employee’s involvement in the assignment.