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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 6, 2022

Coast Guard updates outside activities policy

By Zach Shapiro, MyCG Writer

Editor's Note: This article was updated on June 12, 2024, to link to the updated DHS Form 480.

The Coast Guard has updated its outside activities policy in accordance with new supplemental regulations from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Civilian employees of the Coast Guard are now subject to approval requirements for outside activities like military members. 

As a reminder, the basic rule for the Coast Guard workforce is that members will not engage in outside employment or any other outside activity that conflicts with your official duties or creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, an actual or apparent impartiality in the performance of official duties, or an actual or apparent misuse of your federal position. 

The new policy implementation states that all civilian employees – including non-appropriated fund (NAF) employees – must notify their supervisory chain before engaging in outside employment or activities. As a reminder, active duty military members are required to notify their command of all proposed activities and employment because they are subject to recall at all times. However, civilian employees are exempt from seeking supervisory approval for certain positions that, due to their nature, do not pose a conflict of interest or ethics issue.

Additionally, all reserve members serving on voluntary active duty orders for over 130 days are subject to the same ethics rules as active duty members. However, reservists are not required to seek authorization to engage in their civilian occupation or outside activities unless they are currently serving on active duty (for any period of time) and they are personally and substantially involved in Coast Guard duties that may have a financial impact on themselves, their employer, or other people meeting certain conditions.

To seek approval for outside activities all employees should complete sections 1-5 of the DHS Form 480 well in advance of anticipated start dates and submit the form through their supervisory chain. The first GS-14 or O5 in the supervisory chain can approve the form or forward it for review to the Servicing Legal Office if required.   

As a reminder, members who hold outside positions requiring notice or approval under this new policy, and who have not yet received command approval, have until Feb. 15, 2023 to comply. Stay tuned for announcements regarding trainings for Coast Guard employees on the new policy.

For a full list of conditions, exclusions, and exceptions, please see the Change to Standards of Ethical Conduct Implementing DHS Regulations Relating to Outside Activities ALCOAST 475/22. If you have any questions, please contact your servicing legal office. 


  • Change to Standards of Ethical Conduct Implementing DHS Regulations Relating to Outside Activities ALCOAST 475/22 
  • DHS Form 480