The Top 8 Things Public Servants Need to Know about Gifts


1. Public servants cannot accept a gift worth $50 or more (also called a “valuable gift”) from a City vendor, meaning any person or firm who the public servant knows is, or intends to become, engaged in business dealings with the City.

2. A “gift” is anything of value – including a meal, a ticket to an event, a gift card, a loan, a swag bag, or a holiday fruit basket.

3. The $50 limit is calculated as “aggregate and cumulative” over a twelve-month period. This means a public servant cannot accept a single $50 gift from a City vendor and also cannot accept two $25 gifts from the same City vendor given during a twelve-month period.

4. It is the public servant's responsibility to figure out whether a gift-giver is a vendor. That can be found out by the checking the Doing Business Database or

5. There are exceptions to the $50 valuable gift rule which allow public servants to accept gifts of certain types of meals or event attendance when the public servant's participation is connected with the performance of the public servant's official City duties. Acceptance of these types of gifts must be first discussed with and approved by your agency’s General Counsel or Ethics Liaison.

6. Public servants generally cannot accept gifts from City subordinates except for important life events, like a wedding or the birth of a child. For annual events, like a birthday or the winter holiday season, public servants can accept gifts from their subordinates only where the “thought of giving” has a greater value than the gift itself (meaning the gift is of minimal value).

7. Public servants may accept gifts from City superiors or colleagues in any amount.

8. Public servants may not accept “tips” – in other words, thank you gifts for doing one’s City job – in any amount.


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