For Ethics Groupies: A new threshold for Federal employees reporting of gifts and for the Gift exception for nonsponsor offers of free attendance at a Widely Attended Gathering

There is a new aggregation federal employee threshold for the reporting of gifts and reimbursements received from any one source on financial disclosure reports and a new threshold for acceptance of nonsponsor gifts of free attendance at a widely attended gathering.  LA-20-04 is titled “Increased Gifts and Travel Reimbursements Reporting Thresholds for Financial Disclosure Reports and Nonsponsor Widely Attended Gatherings Gift Exception Ceiling.”  This Legal Advisory discusses the recent amendments to Federal Regulations concerning the gifts and travel reimbursements reporting thresholds at 5 C.F.R. §§ 2634.304 and 2634.907(g) and the widely attended gathering (WAG) gift exception ceiling for nonsponsor gifts of free attendance at 5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(g)(3).  See, June 25, 2020 LA-20-04 LEGAL ADVISORY to Designated Agency Ethics Officials.

LA-20-04 provides about gift reporting thresholds:

“Financial disclosure filers must report all gifts and travel reimbursements aggregating “more than $415” from any one source. Filers do not need to aggregate items worth “$166 or less” towards that overall reporting threshold.  The Ethics in Government Act and OGE’s regulations tie these increases to the General Services Administration’s increase of “minimal value” to $415 for purposes of the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act for the three-year period 2020-2022.”  

LA 20-04 provides about widely attended gatherings, effective June 18, 2020:

“Similarly, OGE raised the widely attended gathering gift exception ceiling for nonsponsor gifts of free attendance from $390 to $415. That exception ceiling is based in part on the gifts and travel reimbursements reporting thresholds.”

I had difficulty using a hyper-link to download this .pdf Legal Advisory.  So, try the Office of Government Ethics Website for recent legal advisories at https://www2.oge.gov/ 

A friend suggested that I do a blog on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) applying Title VII to gays and transgender employees, but also about monitoring employee performance in this new work off-site world.  And Bill Wells, and others, have sent me much business and practical information about work off-site. I will do those articles shortly, and thank you so much for the input.

Turning back to Federal employee acceptance of gifts, please ask your federal agency’s Designated Agency Ethics Official (DEAO) or Deputy DEAO BEFORE accepting a gift. If you are in a situation where you believe you already may have an ethics issue, consult an experienced attorney.

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