Revisions to ethics rules taking effect January 1 contain guidance for employees when acceptance of a gift would be allowable but it might be best to reject it nonetheless. Employees should consider “whether acceptance of a gift would lead a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question his or her integrity or impartiality,” the rules say. Factors to consider would include whether: the gift has a high value; the timing of the gift creates the appearance that the donor is seeking to influence an official action; the gift was provided by a person who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee’s official duties; or acceptance of the gift would provide the donor with significantly disproportionate access. Employees who are uncertain should seek advice from an agency ethics official, the rules add.
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