Removing conflicts of interest is a recognized and necessary ethical behavior. So much so that the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is dedicated to overseeing the executive branch’s ethics programs, programs whose primary function is to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest. To give you an idea as to the size and scope of this endeavor, there are approximately 4,500 full-time and part-time ethics officials who work in the executive branch that try to provide employees assistance in identifying and resolving potential conflicts of interest.
The OGE’s mission is to create public confidence in the impartiality of government decision making by improving transparency, increasing accountability, and making sure that senior leaders are making decisions based on the interests of the public rather than their own personal financial interests.
The Department of Labor’s clarification attempts to define and enforce the required ethics that bind human behavior in governance where Fiduciary Duty and Responsibility is mandated. It is no different than the OSE’s mission, 18 U.S.C. § 208, or, ultimately, the Constitution.