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[IWS] CRS: THE RECEIPT OF GIFTS BY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH [5 December 2014]

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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This service is supported, in part, by donations. Please consider making a donation by following the instructions at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/iws/news-bureau/support.html

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

The Receipt of Gifts by Federal Employees in the Executive Branch

Jack Maskell, Legislative Attorney

December 5, 2014

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43660.pdf

[full-text, 13 pages]

 

Summary

This report provides information on the federal statutes, regulations, and guidelines concerning

the restrictions on the acceptance of gifts and things of value by officers or employees in the

executive branch of the United States government.

 

The laws and regulations on the receipt of “gifts” by executive branch personnel provide,

generally, that an employee may not solicit or accept a gift:

 

(1) if the gift is from a “prohibited source” or

(2) if the gift is given because of the employee’s official position.

 

A “prohibited source” under the regulations is one who seeks official action from the employee’s

agency; one who does business or seeks to do business with the agency; one whose activities are

regulated by the employee’s agency; one whose interests may be substantially affected by the

performance or nonperformance of the employee’s official duties; or an organization a majority of

whose members fit any of the above categories.

 

A gift is given “because of” the employee’s official position if it would not have been offered

“had the employee not held the status, authority or duties associated with his Federal position.”

Gifts that are “motivated by a family relationship or personal friendship” may therefore be

accepted without limitation.

 

There are several exceptions to the gifts restrictions for the receipt of certain gifts, including a

general de minimis exception for the receipt of gifts of under $20 in value; modest items of food

and drink that are not offered as part of a meal; greeting cards and items with little intrinsic value,

such as plaques or trophies; certain bona fide awards; certain expenses for some conferences and

symposiums when approved by the agency; and items related to an outside business or

employment activity of the employee.

 

In addition to the regulations on “gifts,” there are additional criminal statutory provisions that

may apply to the receipt of things of value by a federal officer or employee when that receipt is

connected in some way to, or influences, an official act or the official duties of the officer or

employee. These include criminal statutory prohibitions on the receipt of “bribes” and “illegal

gratuities,” prohibitions on official extortion, and the “honest services” fraud component of the

mail and wire fraud statutes.

 

Gifts from foreign governments or foreign officials to all federal officers or employees are

prohibited by a constitutional provision, unless such gifts are permitted by Congress (Article I,

Section 9, clause 8). Congress has consented to the receipt of gifts in certain circumstances from

official foreign sources in the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act.

 

Contents

Federal Statute on Gifts from Outside Sources ................................................................................ 1

Regulations on Receipt of Gifts ....................................................................................................... 1

General Prohibitions .................................................................................................................. 3

Exceptions ................................................................................................................................. 3

Personal or Family Relationships ........................................................................................ 3

Exceptions for De Minimis Gifts ......................................................................................... 4

Social Events ....................................................................................................................... 4

Conferences and Similar Widely Attended Events .............................................................. 4

Outside Business and Other Outside Activities ................................................................... 5

Bona Fide Awards ............................................................................................................... 6

Other Exceptions ................................................................................................................. 6

Foreign Gifts and Decorations ......................................................................................................... 6

Other Restrictions on the Receipt of Things of Value by Federal Officials ..................................... 8

Financial Disclosure ........................................................................................................................ 9

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 10

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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