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Can You Accept That Gift? Take Our Quiz


It is widely agreed the federal workforce enjoys a relatively generous benefits package.

It is one of the few sectors that still offers a defined-benefit retirement option, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is considered a model of efficiency in employer-sponsored health care.

There is one perk, however, federal employees cannot enjoy: gifts for doing their jobs.

Federal employees have long been prohibited from taking bribes. Such “corrupt” payments, as they are known in federal statute, also include illegal gratuities and generally any quid pro quo agreement. Governmentwide laws that regulate the simple awarding of gifts to executive branch workers, however, are much more recent.

A 1965 executive order signed by President Lyndon Johnson was the first official guidance to lay out the dos and don’ts for federal employees offered gifts. Those regulations were codified, with minor changes, by the 1989 Ethics Reform Act.

The laws are fairly strict, comprehensive and at times, oddly specific. Having a hard time keeping it all straight? Luckily for you, the Congressional Research Service recently put together a report summarizing the restrictions, and we have put together a quiz to test your knowledge.

You can find a link to the answers after the questions.

  1. What federal agency regulates gift giving to and from federal employees?
  2. What are the two overarching rules for when a federal employee cannot accept a gift?
  3. Which of the following is NOT a part of federal statute’s official definition of gift?
    1. Favor for the employee
    2. Party in honor of the employee
    3. Hospitality for the employee
    4. Loan to the employee
  4. Which of the following does NOT automatically prohibit an individual from giving a gift to a federal employee?
    1. The individual seeks official action from the employee’s agency
    2. The individual conducts activity regulated by the employee’s agency
    3. The individual has previously done business with the employee’s agency
    4. The individual is part of an organization that is made up primarily of people who are prohibited from giving gifts to federal employees
  5. If the value of a gift is less than this amount, a federal employee may accept it.
  6. A federal employee cannot accept gifts of this value from one individual in a calendar year.
  7. You, the affable federal employee, have a longstanding friendship with someone that you also work with. Can you accept a gift of significant value from that friend?
  8. You, the eloquent federal employee, are invited to speak at a Government Executive event. Can you attend the conference for free? Can your spouse? Can Government Executive pay for your travel?
  9. Federal employees are generally prohibited from accepting free meals. Which of the following “inconsequential items” is NOT explicitly allowable under federal statute?
    1. Pizza
    2. Soda
    3. Coffee
    4. Donuts
  10. You, an extraordinary federal employee, have done exceptional work in the last year. A private organization invites you to an event and presents you with a trophy. Can you accept it?
  11. You, the brilliant federal employee, win the Nobel Prize for Physiology for your official work. It comes with prize money of more than $1 million. Can you accept it?
  12. An employee can accept a gift of this amount from a foreign government official.
  13. You, a federal employee, are offered a gift from a foreign government official that you are certain is worth more than the answer to question 12. However, you’d feel really embarrassed rejecting it. Can you then accept the gift?
  14. True or False: You, a brownnosing federal employee, can give your supervisor a Christmas present of significant value.

How’d you do? Click here to see the answers. 

(Image via NREY/

Eric Katz joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 after graduating from The George Washington University, where he studied journalism and political science. He has written for his college newspaper and an online political news website and worked in a public affairs office for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. Most recently, he worked for Financial Times, where he reported on national politics.

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