Following is an Office of Government Ethics summary of policies governing gifts between executive branch employees.
Subpart C of 5 C.F.R. part 2635 governs gifts between executive branch employees.
Note: The rules and exceptions in Subpart B of 5 C.F.R. part 2635 govern gifts from outside sources.
Under Subpart C:
An employee may not give (or contribute toward) a gift for the employee’s official superior.
An employee may not accept a gift from another employee who receives less U.S. Government pay, unless the employee is not the employee’s subordinate and a personal relationship justifies the gift.
An employee may not ask another employee for a contribution toward a gift for the employee’s own official superior or for the other employee’s official superior.
These rules do not prohibit an employee from giving a gift to another employee, or accepting a gift from another employee, as long as a personal friendship justifies the gift and the employees are not in the same supervisory “chain of command.” Even if a supervisory relationship exists, the official superior may choose to pay market value for the gift, or an exception may apply:
On an occasional basis (including for a birthday or annual holiday), an employee may give, and the official superior (or person receiving more pay than the employee) may accept:
- gifts, other than cash, having a market value of $10 or less per occasion;
- items such as food and refreshments to be shared in the office among several employees;
- personal hospitality at a residence which is of a type and value customarily provided by the employee to personal friends;
- gifts given in connection with the receipt of personal hospitality if of a type and value customarily given on such occasions; or
- transferred leave, provided it is not transferred to an immediate supervisor.
On “special infrequent occasions,” an employee may give, and his or her official superior (or person receiving less pay than the employee) may accept, a gift appropriate to the occasion. These occasions include:
- infrequently occurring events of personal significance, such as marriage, illness, or the birth or adoption of a child (as distinguished from a
- birthday or annual holiday); or
- occasions that terminate the subordinate-official superior relationship, such as retirement, resignation, or transfer.
In addition, notwithstanding the limitations in Subpart C concerning solicitations and contributions, an employee may solicit or contribute–on a strictly voluntary basis–nominal amounts for a group gift to an official superior for:
items such as food and refreshments to be shared in the office among several employees; or
a “special infrequent occasion.”