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Gifts From Outside Sources

Executive branch employees are subject to restrictions on the gifts they accept from sources outside the Government. They may not accept gifts that are given because of their official position or gifts that come from interested sources or "prohibited sources ".

  • are seeking official action by the employee's agency
  • are doing or seeking to do business with the employee's agency
  • are regulated by the employee's agency, or
  • have interests that may be substantially affected by performance or nonperformance of the employee's official duties.

Prohibited Sources

Prohibited Sources include persons (or an organization made up of such persons) who --

  • are seeking official action by the employee's agency
  • are doing or seeking to do business with the employee's agency
  • are regulated by the employee's agency, or
  • have interests that may be substantially affected by performance or non-performance of the employee's official duties.

Exceptions

There are exceptions to the ban on gifts from outside sources that would allow the acceptance of gifts in the following circumstances --

  • where the value of the gift is $20 or less
  • where the gift is based solely on a family relationship or personal friendship
  • where the gift is based on an outside business or employment relationship
  • where the gift is in connection with certain political activities.

Employees may accept gifts of free attendance at widely attended gatherings, provided that there has been a determination that attendance is in the interest of the agency. Invitations from non-sponsors of the event may be accepted, provided that certain additional conditions are met.


Customary Exceptions

There are exceptions for discounts, awards and honorary degrees, certain social events, meals, refreshments and entertainment in foreign countries. These exceptions are subject to limitations on their use.

An employee cannot solicit or coerce the offering of a gift or, use exceptions to accept gifts on such a frequent basis that a reasonable person would believe that the employee was using public office for private gain.

Modest refreshments (such as coffee and donuts), greeting cards, plaques and other items of little intrinsic value, rewards and prizes open to the general public, and pension benefits from a former employer may be accepted without any limitations.

If an employee has received a gift that cannot be accepted, they must return the gift or pay its market value. If the gift is perishable, and it is not practical to return it, the gift may be donated to charity or shared in the office

 

Reference: 5 C.F.R. § § 2635.201-205.

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  • Page last reviewed: December 18, 2015
  • Page last updated: December 18, 2015
  • Content source: CDC and ATSDR Ethics Program
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