Gifts and Entertainment


Gifts from Outside Sources | Gifts of Entertainment | Gifts Between Employees | Gifts to the Department | Gifts from Foreign Governments

Gifts from Outside Sources

An employee may not solicit or accept a gift given because of his official position or from a prohibited source to include anyone who:

  • Has or seeks official action or business with the Department;*
  • Is regulated by the Department;
  • Has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance of an employee's official duties; or
  • Is an organization composed mainly of persons described above.

A gift does not include items such as publicly available discounts and prizes, commercial loans, food not part of a meal such as coffee and donuts, and items of little value such as plaques and greeting cards.

Unless the frequency of the acceptance of gifts would appear to be improper, an employee may accept:

  • Gifts based on a personal relationship when it is clear that the motivation is not his official position.
  • Gifts of $20 or less per occasion, not to exceed $50 in a year from one source.
  • Discounts and similar benefits offered to a broad class, including a broad class of government employees.
  • Most genuine awards and honorary degrees, although in some cases an employee will need a formal determination.
  • Free attendance, food, refreshments and materials provided at a conference or widely attended gathering or certain other social events which an employee attends in his official capacity, with approval.
  • Gifts based on an outside business relationship, such as travel expenses related to a job interview.

An employee should return gifts not meeting the exceptions or contact his Deputy DAEO on how to dispose of them. Perishable items may be given to charity or shared by the office, with approval.

5 C.F.R. § 2635.201 - 205 (see Subpart B - Gifts from Outside Sources)

* Certain Department of Justice components are designated as separate agencies for purposes of the gift regulation.

5 C.F.R. § 3801.103

Gifts of Entertainment

Conferences and Other Events

When an employee is participating in his official capacity as a speaker or panel member at a conference or other event, he may accept an offer of free attendance, including a meal or refreshments, on the day of his presentation. The employee's participation in the event on that day is viewed as a customary and necessary part of his duties and is not considered a gift to him or the Department.

5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(g)(1) (see Subpart B - Gifts from Outside Sources, Exceptions)

Widely Attended Gatherings

When it is determined that an employee's attendance at all or an appropriate part of an event is in the interest of the Department because it will further agency programs and operations, an employee may accept an unsolicited gift of free attendance from the sponsor of the event if the event is found to be a widely attended gathering. A gathering is widely attended if a large number of people with mutual interests are expected to attend and the event is open to members from throughout a given industry or profession.

A determination that an employee’s attendance at a widely attended gathering is in the interest of the Department shall be made orally or in writing. If the person extending the invitation has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of an employee's official duties, or is an association or organization the majority of whose members have such interests, the determination must be made in writing. Here is a sample widely attended gathering determination.

If anyone other than the sponsor of the event offers to pay for an employee's attendance at a widely attended gathering, at least 100 persons must be expected to attend and the cost cannot exceed $375 for the employee and his guest.

5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(g)(2) (see Subpart B - Gifts from Outside Sources, Exceptions)

Social Invitations from Persons Other than Prohibited Sources

An employee may accept food, refreshments and entertainment, not including travel and lodging, at a social event attended by several people where the invitation is from someone who is not a prohibited source and no fee is charged to anyone in attendance.

5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(h) (see Subpart B - Gifts from Outside Sources, Exceptions)

Gifts Between Employees

An employee may not give, or solicit a contribution for, a gift to an official superior, and she may not accept a gift from an employee receiving less pay than her if the employee is a subordinate.

On annual occasions where gifts are traditionally given, such as birthdays, Christmas, Boss's Day, an employee may give the following to an official superior:

  • Items, other than cash, valued at $10 or less;
  • Items such as food and refreshments to be shared in the office; and
  • Personal hospitality provided at a residence which is of a type and value customarily provided by the employee to personal friends.

On special, infrequent occasions, such as marriage, illness, or the birth of a child, or an occasion that terminates the superior/subordinate relationship, an employee may give an official superior a gift that is appropriate to the occasion. In addition, an employee may solicit voluntary contributions of nominal amounts from fellow employees, but not subordinates, to contribute to the gift.

5 C.F.R. § 2635.301-304 (see Subpart C - Gifts Between Employees)

Gifts to the Department

The Department of Justice may accept gifts and bequests in certain circumstances. The Assistant Attorney General for Administration has the authority on behalf of the Department to accept gifts and the authority may be delegated to Component Heads. The policies and procedures are set forth in DOJ Order 2400.2.

In order to obtain approval to accept a gift to the Department, a request should be submitted to the Justice Gift Fund Committee. Questions concerning this procedure may be directed to Property Management Services on (202)307-2761. The request should include a Gift Donation Form completed by the donor. Certain types of gifts, not to exceed $150 in value, may be accepted by Component Heads under a delegation of acceptance authority. Acceptance of these gifts should be documented using a Gift Acceptance Form and do not need to be approved by the Gift Fund Committee.

Gifts from Department employees will generally not be accepted. And, employees may not solicit a gift or encourage the solicitation of a gift unless it has been approved by the Deputy Attorney General in advance. Nominating a Department program for an award is not considered soliciting a gift.

Gifts from Foreign Governments

There is a general ban on acceptance of gifts from foreign governments by officers and employees of the United States. However, 5 U.S.C. § 7342 provides for the acceptance of certain gifts from foreign governments if they do not exceed a minimal value presently set at $375. All government agencies are required to submit an annual report to the Secretary of State concerning gifts, including certain travel received from foreign governments. Each year, the Justice Management Division distributes a memorandum asking employees to report such gifts.


Updated May 3, 2016