Under the ethics regulation, a gift is anything that has monetary value which you obtain for less than “market value.” The gift might be tangible or intangible. A gift may include, but is not limited to, a gratuity, favor, discount, cash, gift certificate, gift card, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value. It also applies to services, training, transportation, travel, lodging, and meals. See 5 C.F.R. § 2635.203(b).
“Market value” is the retail price that you, the recipient of the gift, would have to pay to purchase it. If you cannot readily determine the retail value of a gift, you may estimate its value by reference to the retail cost of items of similar quality. If a ticket entitles you to food, refreshments, entertainment, or any other benefit, the market value is the face value printed on the ticket.
EXCLUSIONS – Some Things Just Aren’t Gifts – 5 C.F.R. § 2635.203
Certain items are excluded from the definition of a gift and you may accept them purusant to certain specific regulatory exclusions.
- Modest items of food and non-alcoholic refreshments such as soft drinks, coffee, and donuts, not offered as part of a meal
- Greeting cards and items of little intrinsic value such as plaques, certificates, or trophies, which are intended primarily for presentation
- Prizes in contests open to the general public
- Commercial discounts available to the general public or to all Government employees
- Commercial loans, pensions, and similar benefits on terms available to the general public
- Anything for which you pay fair market value
- Anything that is paid for by the Government
- Free attendance provided by the sponsor of an event to which you have been assigned to present information on behalf of the agency
- If you are assigned to participate as a speaker or panel participant or otherwise to present information on behalf of DOI or your bureau at a conference or other event, you may accept free attendance at the event on the day of your presentation if it is provided by the sponsor of the event. This is not considered a gift to the employee or the agency. Free attendance for a speaking engagement may include waiver of all or part of the fee for an event or the provision of food, refreshments, entertainment, instruction or materials furnished to all attendees as an integral part of the event. It does not include travel expenses, lodgings, or entertainment collateral to the event. It does not include meals taken other than in a group setting with all other attendees, unless the employee is a presenter at the event and is invited to a separate meal for participating presenters that is hosted by the sponsor of the event. Where the offer of free attendance has been extended to an accompanying spouse or other guest, the market value of the gift of free attendance includes the market value of free attendance by both the employee and the spouse or other guest. If you are a Political