Gifts to CDC

Partnerships Help Support a Range of CDC Programs

For more than a half century, CDC has been a leader in scientific research committed to protecting the American people and keeping Americans healthy, safe, and secure. Public-private partnerships help federal agencies do more with less, build on the capabilities of others, and leverage collective action. CDC has delegated authority from the Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS, to accept outside gifts. Specifically, Section 231 of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 238) authorizes acceptance of unconditional and conditional gifts “…for the benefit of the Public Health Service or for the carrying out of any of its functions.”


In April 2015, CDC’s Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) agreed to establish a workgroup of external advisors to review current practices in other organizations as well as CDC’s policies and procedures and provide recommendations to further improve CDC’s conflict of interest policies and procedures.

In the spring of 2016, CDC’s ACD made seven recommendationspdf icon pdf icon[PDF – 285 KB] for ethical considerations with CDC’s public-private partnerships. These recommendations focused on how CDC engages the private sector and reaffirm CDC’s commitment to the American people.

In December 2016, the most recent version of the CDC’s gift policy was publishedpdf iconpdf icon. This version of the gift policy incorporates the recommendations from the ACD, clarifies roles of CDC staff, and cements the agency’s gift review process.

Today, CDC is focused on refining our gift review processes. These improvements reaffirm our guiding principles of transparency, accountability, core mission, and public trust.

CDC’s Gift Review Process

CDC ensures that when we engage with the private sector, we are good stewards of the funds entrusted to us. We maintain our scientific integrity by participating in a gift review process that is rigorous and transparent. CDC’s gift acceptance policy requires a comprehensive gift review prior to accepting a gift. This includes CDC Foundation (CDCF) gifts and gifts given directly to CDC, whether they are monetary or non-monetary. On May 1, 2014, CDC implemented a unified process for reviewing and documenting possible conflicts of interest (COI) related to gifts provided to CDC via CDCF. In April 2015, CDC extended the process to include the review of all monetary gifts directly provided to CDC. In 2016, this process was strengthened and institutionalized in the most recent revision of the CDC’s gift policy. From 2017 to today, CDC has focused on refining its gift review processes to ensure that the acceptance of gifts continues to be legally and ethically sound.


The gift review process begins when a potential donor notifies CDC or CDCF of their interest in giving a gift. The CDC principal investigator completes documentation on the potential donor for each donor proposing a gift. Documentation is required for every gift. In other words, the review is case-by-case — no donor can be  “grandfathered” in or bypass review.

Determination of a real or perceived risk in accepting a gift is the responsibility of the CDC Gift Review Panel.

The panel consists of members from:

  • Office of the Chief Operating Officer (OCOO)/ Strategic Business Initiatives Unit — Panel management
  • CDC Washington — Governmental affairs
  • Office of Financial Resources (OFR) — Financial interests
  • Office of the General Counsel (OGC) — Legal advisement
  • CDC Office of Science (OS)/Public Health Ethics and Strategy Unit — Ethics related to public health policies and actions
  • CDC Ethics and Compliance Activity (ECA) — Individual employee ethics
  • CDC Strategic Business Initiatives Unit/ Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Team — FACA-related issues
  • Office of the Associate Director for Communication (OADC) — Reputational risk, general logo use, co-branding, and communication issues
  • OS Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) — Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), other technology transfer mechanisms,  innovation, patents
  • 2-3 rotating practitioners from CDC centers, institutes, and offices — Subject matter expertise

In evaluating whether to accept a gift from a donor, CDC must perform a balancing test to determine whether the benefits outweigh the risk that accepting the gift would reflect unfavorably upon CDC. For example, the gift should not be accepted if any employee’s ability to carry out his or her responsibilities or official duties in a fair and objective manner is influenced; if acceptance of the gift could compromise the integrity of a government program or any official involved in that program; or if the donor has an expectation of receiving a future benefit such as a contract award.

Related Resources

Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21)

Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20)

Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19)

Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18)

Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17)

Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16)

Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15)

Questions and Answers about Gifts

How does CDC get operating funds?
The main source of CDC discretionary funds is budget authority, which are annual appropriations determined by the U.S. Congress. In FY 2021, Congress appropriated $6.96 billion in budget authority to CDC and directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to transfer $856.2 million in Prevention and Public Health Funds (PPHF) to CDC for a total program funding level of $7,819,446,000. Details for CDC’s FY 2021 budget request and operating plan are available at:

Why does CDC receive gifts through the CDC Foundationexternal icon when they can receive direct gifts?
The CDC Foundation was created by the U.S. Congress to connect CDC with the private sector—individuals, philanthropies and corporations—to address public health protection challenges. The statutory authority which created the CDC Foundation included authority for CDC to accept gifts from the CDC Foundation. In addition to having more flexibility in spending, the CDC Foundation—because it is an independent non-profit—may be able to expedite gift funding to support public health challenges more quickly than CDC. Expediting funds is beneficial in addressing public health emergencies, such as the 2014-2015 Ebola response and the ongoing COVID-19 response.

How does CDC review gifts for potential conflicts of interest and other concerns?
CDC’s goal is to have a process that is sound, transparent, and aligns with CDC’s policies. Our responsibility is to be good stewards of our mission and the funds given to CDC. CDC’s gift acceptance policy requires a review for conflicts of interest (COI) and other concerns prior to accepting a gift.  In May 2014, CDC established a unified process to review and document the results of the COI review for gifts received from the CDC Foundation. In April 2015, that process was expanded to cover all gifts to CDC, not just those donated through the CDC Foundation.  Additional information about CDC’s gift review process is available at:

Page last reviewed: February 17, 2022