DOCUMENT RESUME 02526 - [A1812847] Actions Recommended to Make the ?oreign Gifts and Decorations Act More Effective. ID-77-31; B-159008. June 23, 1977. 8 pp. + 2 appendices (13 pp.). Report to the Congress; by Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General. Issue Area: International Economic and Military Programs (600). Contact: International Div. Budget Function: International Affairs: Conduct of Foreign AfiTaJrs (152). Organization Concerned: Department cf State. Congressional Relevance: House Committee on International Relations; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Congress. Authority: Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-673, as amended; P.L. 90-83). 5 U.S.C. 7342. 18 U.S.C. 641. 22 C.F.R. 3. A followup review was made of the Secretary of State's implementation of recommendations made in 1975, which were designed to strengthen the administration of the Foreign Gift- and Decorati.ons Act of 1966. The act prohibits U.S. Got.rnment employees from soliciting gifts and decorations from foreigr governments and discourages the acceptance of unsolicited gifts and decorations. Where ref-sal night embarrass the donor or adversely affect U.S. foreign relatirns, the item(s) may be accepted. They may be retained by the individual if less than $50 in value; if their value is more than $50, they Bust be tfrned over to the Government. Findings/Conclusions: The status of the DepartmeLt of State's actions on the recommendations was: (1) definitive procedures for ,andling foreign gifts received by the President and members of his family had been developed; (2) the Department of State does not plan to implement the recommendation that Federal Agencies nd U.S. Missions report gifts or decorations received in excess of minimal value by Federal employees; (3) no additional steps are being taken by the Off.ce of Protocol to publicly disclose gifts reported; (4) no action has been taken in terms of providing comprehensive and overall guidance concerning the act; (5) no action has been taken to note and document gifts received but not reported or deposited; (6) new criteria were developed, but not formalized in writing, as to followup on gifts retained for official use; and (7) no new blanket concurrences to the Armed Forces for badges and *mdals have been granted. Recommendations: Legislative action is still needed to strengthen provisions to the act to: establish points of responsibility in each of the three branches of the Government to assure compliance with the act; report and deposit gifts within a specified period of time from their revceipt; provide coverage for temporary or intermittent experts and consultants; establish effective penalties for noncompliance with the act; give the General Services Administration responsibility for defining sin'l-al valve subject to evaluation every 3 years; and provide for approval of the Secretary of State or his delegate before foreign gifts may be sold, and give the General Services Adainistration explicit authority to conduct negotiated sales. (DJN) REPORT TO THE CONGRESS 0: - BY THE COMPTROLLER GEN1ERAL i S -OF THE UNITED STATES Actions Recommended To Make The Foreign Gifts And Decorations Act More Effective Department of State In 1975 GAO recommended legislative chanc- es to the Congress and made several recornm- mendations to ,he Secretary of Sta3te to strengthen the admniriistration of the r-oreign Gifts and Decorations Act whic prohibits U.S. Government employees from soliciting gifts and decorations frcm other governments and discourages the acceptance of unsolicited gifts and decorations. However, no n:i. legislation has been passed on the recomme-,atiolis; other GAO recom mendations to -,., Secretary of £,ate gen erally have not been put into action. this report stresses the continuing need 1(ir action so that the letter and spirit of this awvw is car- riecl out. ID-77-31 JUNE 23, )977 COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UtI1TO rrATLS WASHINMTrON. D.C B-159008 To the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives This is our followup report on the statue of recommendations made in our March 26, 1975, resort to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, "Propo- sals To Strengthen The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1956" (ID-75-51). (See app. I.) The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-673) of October 15, 1966, as amended in 1967 (Public Law 90-83), prohibits U.S. Government employees from soliciting gifts and decorations from foreign governments and discourages the acceptance of unsolicited gifts and decorations. Gifts of minimal val. :--less than $50--may be accepted. Gifts of more than minimal value may be accepted if refusal would cause offense or ewtar- rassment or otherwise adversely affect U.S. foreign relations, but they cannot be retained by the recipient. Such gifts are accepted on behalf of the U.S. Government and must be forwarde6 to the Chief of Protocol, Department of State. Our 1975 report noted that 542 foreign gifts had been reported to the Chief of Protocol from the passage of the act on October 15, 1966, through September 1, 1974. This figure did not include a large number of foreign gifts received by U.S. Presidents. From September 1, 1974, through February 11, 1977, 959 foreign gifts were reported to the Chief of Protocol. These gifts were reported as follows. President Ford and his family 216 Vice President Rockefeller and his family 6 Secretary of State Kissinger and his family 311 B-159008 Members of Congress 59 Others 367 a/959 a/ 101 gifts were approved by the Office of Protocol to be retained for official use by various Government agencies. Our 1975 eport made a series of recommendations to the Secretary of State designed to strengthen the administration of the act. We found that the Secretary generally has not implemented our recommendations and no new legislation has been passed t^ strengthen the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act. However, in this followup review, we found that the Office of Protocol had impro-,ed its procedures for recording and account- ing for for gn gifts reported. In addition, :he House of Representa:ives rnd the Senate have passed resolutions outlining a code o. ethicr that affects the tireatment of gifts through reporting in financial dicclosure statements. The £tatus of State's actions on our recommendations is discussed below. Recommendation 1--Develop definitive procedures for the recording, control, and custody of gifts received by the Vice President, Secretary of State, and members of their families. The Office of Protorol developed definitive pro- cedures for handling the foreign gifts received by the President and members of the First Family. Procedures for handling Vice President Rockefeller's gifts had been discussed at the staff level. On April 7, 1976, a copy of the procedures for handling the President's gifts was forwarded to the Counsel to the Vice President for consideration in arriving at a procedure for han- dling foreign gifts received by the Vice President. As of January 12, 1977, no response had been received from the Office of the Vice President by the Office of Protocol. 2 E-159008 A senior staff representative of Vice Mcndale's staff has been fully briefed President ments of the law and regulations, and on the require- the Office of Protocol has already given the requested for display at the Vice President's authorization official residence of a number of gifts presenteC to him in of his recent working visits to Western the course Japan. Europe and The Office of Protocol's position is that no special procedures are necessary for handling the foreign gifts received by the Secretary of State. bound by The same Federal Regulations The Secretary is (22 CFR part 3) as are all other persons who fre subject the Department feels that these regulations to the act, and for this purpose. The Secretary of are adequate State, turned in gifts to the Office of Protocol however, has groups rather than individually as in lots or received and five wedding gifts have been returned to the donors. Recommendation 2--Request Federal Missiofns to report to the Chief of agencies and U.S. Protocol any Federal employees who receive decorations or gifts in excess of minimal value. State does not plan to implement this tion. It maintains that neither recomLmenda- Federal agencies nor U.S. Missions have the obligation, have under statute or regulationqs, nor should they to report gifts received by their employees. On the Chief of Protocol reiterated .ecember 20, 1976, employee responsibfl- ities under the act in a memorandum to the beads of all Federal agencies. This memorandum, similar to one issued in July 1974, included value was defined as $50 retailtwo additions--minimal in the United States and a statement was included in the regulatLns placing the burden of proof on the recipient establish that the gift from a foreignof the gift to minimal 7alue. Copies of this memorandum government is of sent to all American diplomatic and ,;ere also consular posts, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, of the Senate. The State Department and the President has further pub- licized this information ir its January i977 Newsletter. 3 B-159008 Reco,?mnendation 3--Direct the Chief of Protocol to perio-ically disclose to the public all gifts reported to him and to request an accounting of gifts received by the Vice President, the White House staff, and the Secretary of State. State believes that the Chief of Protocol should not be burdened with the obligation of publicly dis- closing gi2ts reported to the Office of Protocol or with requesting a formal accounting by the officials cited-- requirements which Protocol contends are satisfied by existing procedures. State also continues to believe that the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act confers no investigative powers on the Chief of Protocol and that therefore the Office of Protocol is not authorized to require such an accounting. Office of Protocol officials told us in January 1977 that they were taking no additional steps to publicly disclose gifts reported, because these records are already open to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. The State Department disagreed with our suggestion that gift records be periodically reported in the Federal Register, stating th6t such disclosures are likely to cause embarrassment to the donors. Recommendation 4--Provide mnr' detailed guidance *to Federal agencies concerning those provisions of the act which are confusing or subject to misinterpretation. Two points have been clarified in the December 20, 1976, memorandum to the heads of all Federal agencies on employee responsibilities under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966. These are (1) minimal value is defined as being $50 retail in the United States and (2) the burden of proof to establish that a gift from a foreign government ".s of minimal value rests with the recipient of the gift. The other items below which were considered confusing or subject to misinterpre- tation as stated in our March 1975 report were not addressed. 4 B-159008 -- Definitions of gift and foreign government. -- Status of gifts received from quasi-governmental or multinational organizations. ---Confusion on types of gifts required to be reported. -- Whether a trip or travel could be accepted the expense of a foreign government. at -- Whether the President or his delegate could authorize disposal of foreign gifts and tions without regard to restrictions of decora- other statutes governing disposal of U.S. property. No action has been taken on this recommendation in terms of providing comprehensive and overall guidance to Federal agencies. Protocol officials informed us in January 1977 that they clarify confusing of the act on an ad hoc basis as needs provisions arise (i.e., when contacted by agencies with questions). Recommendation 5--Direct the Chief of Protocol note and document gifts known to have been to received but not reported or deposited. After notifying the gift recipient of his responsibilities, sideration should be given to notifying con- and other appropriate officials and to the Congress documenting action taken. Again, State's position remains unchanged actions have been taken. The Department and no maintains actions which we noted the Office of Protocol that could have taken to effect compliance are not being the absence of enforcement authority. taken due to Office of Protocol officials expressed that this recommendation lies in the realm the opinion of employee conduct and ethics and therefore, the employees' should be monitored by the appropriate actions employing Federal agencies. 5 B-159008 Recommendation 6--Direct the Chief of Protocol to periodically follow up on gifts retained for official use. State believes that responsibility for property control and an inventory system for gifts retained for official use must rest with the user who possesses physical control of an item. In i,.s January 1975 com- ments on a draft of our report, the Department informed us that new criteria had been developed for passing upon such agency requests and that subsequent corres- pondence with agencies would state agency razsponsibili- ties concerning the safeguarding of this property. Office of Protocol officials advised us in January 1977 that the new criteria has not been formalized in writing. However, the criteria is that an item will be approved for official use if a similar item is normally used in the course of an agency's official business and is furnished as part of the agency'r inventory. Language in the letters approving items for retention for official use states that the gifts are Federal property and *;hould be accounted for and safeguarded at all times in accordance with v,:andard Federal property management procedures. If at any time the gift is not desired, it should be forwarded to the )ffice of Protocol for disposition as provided for under %ne act. Recommendation 7--Direct the Chief of Protocol to review recurring requests for authority to retain various classes of medals and badges and consider providing blanket concurrence to the Armed Forces for those badges and medals that are of nominal stature. The Department of State, when commenting on a draft of our prior report in January 1975, told us that a review of recurring requests would be undertaken, with a pos- sible provision of blanket concurrence where appropriate. In January 1977, State irformed us that no further blanket concurrences have been granted beyond those previously approved allowing the Arm,, and Air Force to review their department's requests to retain qualifications and skill badges. However, in the event that requests for retention 6 B-159008 of other nominal awards should reach such a level as to cause administrative problems, consideration also be given to providing blanket concurrence will on these awards. We discussed the status of the recommendations to the Secretary of State with Department made officials and believe that the substance of the recommendations made in our March 1975 report is still valid. Bowever, State's position is that it does not have the authority to require compliance with the 1966 act nor believes it appropriate to have this authority and does the resources not have to monitor compliance. Our review of financial disclosure systems regulations concerning standards for conduct and of executive branch departments and agencies also affects the subject of gifts. During the past 3 years, we have issued some 20 reports on this subject, and in February 1977 we issued a summary report recommending that the establish an Office of Ethics in the executive President, adequate resources to ensure enforcement and branch with compliance. Should such an office be established, we believe it should have responsibility for issuing rules and regulations esteolisbling the criteria for minimum value. and To date, no new legislation has been passed to strengthen the provisions of the Foreign Gifts and Decorations In our opinion, regardless of congressional Act. action.s being taken to establish a financial disclosure system for top- level Governme.t officers and employees, legislative action is still needed to strengthen the provisions of the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act to -- establish points of responsibility in each of the three branches of tie Government to assure com- pliance with the act, -- report and deposit gifts within a specific period of time from their receipt, 7 B-159008 -- provide coverage for temporary or intermittent experts and consultants, -- establish effective penalties for noncompliance with the act; -- give the General Services Administration respon- sibility for defining minimal value subject evaluation every 3 years, and to -- provide for appro-val of the Secretary c: State or his delegate before foreign gifts may be sold and give the General Services Administration explicit authority to conduct negotiated sales. A proposed revised statute draft wh.~ch incorporates these changes is included as appendix II. Copies of this report are being sent Office of Managenent and Budget; Secretary to the Director, of State; Administrator, General Services Administration; Chairman, Civil Service Commission. and Comptroller General of the United States APPENDIX I APPENDIX I COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S REPORT TO PROPOSALS TO STRENGTHEN THE THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN FORFIGN GIFTS AND DECORATIONS RELATIONS ACT OF 1966 UNITED STATES SENATE Multiagency DIGEST WHY THE REVIEW WAS MADE Acceptance of unsolicited gifts and decorations is permissible The Senate Committee on Foreign if their refusal might offend Relations asked GAO to review or embarrass the donor or ad- administration and operation of versely affect the foreign re- the Foreign Gifts and Decora- lations of the United States. tions Act of 1966 and subse- (See p. 1.) quent legislation, Executive orders, and regulations. (See The act permits acceptance and P. 37.) retention of gifts of minimal value and decorations for out- The Chief of Protocol, Depart- standing or meritorious serv- ment of State is responsible ice. All other gifts and deco- for administering the act. rations may not be retained and (See p. 2.) are the property of the United States.- (See p. 1.) FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS Reporting of gifts Deficiencies in the act and its The act applies to Presidents, implementing regulations limit Vice Presidents, Members of the the effectiveness of the law. Congress' and employees in all three branches of Federal Gifts and decorations Government, including civilian legislation and military. It does not ap- ply to some experts and con- Implementing provisions of the sultants hired by the Govern- Constitution (see p. 1), the ment. (See p. 4.) 1°66 Act The President, Vice President, -- prohibits Government employ- and Secretary of State and eef; from soliciting gifts and members of their families are decorations, and the principal recipients of gifts from foreign governments. -- discourages acceptance of un- (See p. 4.) solicited gifts from other governments by limiting con- As of September 1, 1974, 542 ditions under which gifts may foreign gifts were reported by be accepted. (See p. 1.) 141 employees of the executive APPENDIX I APPENDIX I and legislative branches to the ascertain whether these were Office of Protocol. (See isolated instances or represen- p. 4.) tative of a more general prob- lem of a lack of reporting. This total does not include a (See pp. 4, 8, and 10.) large number of gifts received by Presidents Johnson or Nixon. Administration of the act Neither had reported to Pro- tocol the gifts recorded by The reporting system under the their Gift Units. (See act relies heavily on voluntary p. 4.) compliance by the recipient. Neither the act nor its regula- Pr-sident Johnson's gifts are tions require that gifts be re- in the LBJ Library in Austin, ported within a specific time, Texas. Most of President nor is there an effective Nixon's gifts are in storage at penalty for noncompliance. the National .rchives. (See pp. 7 and 8.) These deficiencies limit the effectiveness of the law. Gifts received by the Presi- (See p. 15.) dents are handled exclusively by a White House Gift Unit. However, the Chief of Protocol The White House Gift Unit did could have not identify all gifts received by former President Nixon and -- alerted the Congress to dif- members of his family. (See ficulties encountered, pp. 5 to 70) --requested the White House and President Ford has approved new other Federal agencies or procedures relating to the ac- units to report gifts re- ceptance of foreign gifts re- ceived by their employees, ceived by him and his family. GAO believes the new procedures --advised gift recipi'.nts of will improve reporting and con- the provisions of the act, trolling these gifts under the and act. (See p. 7.) -- retained or prepared records As of March 1975, Vice Presi- of gifts known to have been dent Rockefeller's staff and received but not reported. the Department of State'c (See pp. 17 and 18.) staff were developing new procedures for handling gifts. Individuals receiving gifts (See p. 13.) often are in the higher civil service grades or hold elective Records GAO h3as examined indi- or high appointee positions. cate that some Government of- GAO noted a reluctance on the ficials may have received gifts part of the Office of Protocol which, up to the present, have to approach such individuals not been reported to the Chief concerning requirements of the of Protocol. GAO was unable to act. (See p. 18.) 10 APPENDIX I APPENDIX I Here are other arpects of the act and its regulations re- to the General Services Admin- quiring clarification o: istration for disposition. change: The Chief of Protocol was un- able to locate all gifts, in- -- Regulations do not explain dicative of inadequate control. that the act applies to gilts (See pp. 29 and 31.) given by officials of any foreign governmental subdivi- Generally, the General Services sion, not solely national Administration advises suitable Government units, such as governments. (See p. 20.) museums, that items are avail- -- Regulations fail to explain able. If there are no quests, re- that all gifts whether given the items may be sold. as a personal or state gift, are under the provisions of As of September i, 1974, 433 the law. (See p. 20.) gifts had been turned over to the General Services Adminis- --Neither the regulations nor tration. Of these, 283 were the act state whether or not on hand and 143 were trano- gifts from foreign quasi- ferred, with the remaining 7 government organizations or being sold by the Administra- tion. multinational organizations need to be reported. (See One museum, to which gifts had p. 16.) been transferred, had.exchanged Neither the act nor its requla- or sold 26 items. Better con- trcl over disposition of gifts tions require an independent appraisal of the gifts. The is needed. (See pp. 29 to 31.) burden of determining a gift's worth--"minimal value' defined Decorations as $50 or less--rests with the recipient. (See p. 17.) ?'ne provisions of the act re- garding decorations are gener- The act also applies to intan- ally being followed. (See pp. 33 and 34.) gible gifts such as travel. However, as a general rule, intangible gifts of more than RECOMMENDATIONS minimal value may not be ac- cepted. The Secretary of State should (See p. 21.) develop clear procedures for Questionable disposition and he recording, control, use of gifts custody of gifts subject and to reporting under the 1966 act. Once a gift is reported to These procedures should in- the Chief of Protocol, he may per- clude: mit its use for official pur- poses or declare it excess per- --Requesting that Federal agen- sonal property and transfer it cies and U.S. missions report to the Chief of Protocol 11 APPENDIX 1 APPENDIX I Federal employees who re- recipients. (See pp. 12, ceived decorations or gifts 13, 23, and 24.) beyond minimal value. The act and its regulations -- Directing the Chief of Pro- limit the State Department's tocol to periodically dis- administrative effectiveness. close to the public, gifts However, actions GAO indicated reported to him; request an the Department could have taken accounting of gifts received were prudent administrative by the Vice President, the steps readily available. White House staff, and Sec- retary of State; and note In addition comments were re- and document gifts retained ceived from the Department of for official use, and gifts Defense, Executive Office of not deposited but known to the President, General Services have been received. (See Administration, and Smithsonian pp. 12 and 23.) Institution and are discussed, where appropriate, in the re- port. AGENCY ACTIONS AND UNRESOLVED ISSUESD - -- MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE CONGRESS In disagreeing with GAO recom- mendations, the Department of GAO believes a need exists to State amend the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act to provide the -- was of the opinion that it basis for adequately implement- could not have taken any ac- ing the constitutional intent tion which would have led to to control the impact of gifts broader compliance with the given by foreign governments. act, Further, a need exists for each branch of the Goveca;ment to es- --said that actions which GAO tablish separate arrangements feels the Office of Protocol to see that the statute is could have taken, were not followed. GAO believes it is taken due to the absence of unreasonable to expect the Ot- enforcement and compliance fice of Protocol to be in a authority, and position to effectively admin- ister the act with respect to --indicated that the Office of the legislative and judicial Protocol's reticence to ad- branches. GAO believes the act vise the Congress of diffi- should be amended to require culties encountered in ad- that ministering the act stemmed from Protocol's inability to --separate entities be respon- effect compliance in a gen- sible for administering the eral way, rather than from act in each branch of the sensitivity toward gift Government, 12 APPENDIX I APPENDIX I -- gifts be reported and depos- clearly accrue to the U.S. ited within a specific period Government as opposed to the of time from receipt, individual, and when approved by an appropriate official of --there be an effective penalty the executive, legislative, for noncompliance with the and judicial branche3. act, --clarify whether the President -- appropriate coverage for or his delegate is authorized temporary or intermittent to dispose of foreign gifts experts and consultants be and decorations without con- provided, sidering restrictions of other statutes governing dis- -- permission be required from posal of U.S. property, and the Secretary of StaLe before selling or trading a foreign -- clarify if a gift from a gift, and member of a foreign Head of State's family is to be con- --responsibility for defining sidered a gift from a for- minimal value be given to the eign government. (See President and be d2fined as a p. 25.) specific dollar value not subject to interpretation When considering the amendment (possibly $100 U.S. retail and administration of the act, price at the time of pur- Congress may wish to consider chase) with consideration be- alternative policy options in ing given by him from time to the interest of perspective. time to making the value re- Four approaches are listed flect inflation factors. below. (See pp. 24 and 25.) --Consenting to the acceptance The act should furtner be of gifts, where their refusal amended to would likely cause offense or lembarrassment or adversely --require public disclosure and affect the foreign relations independent appraisal of of the United States, with .gifts, the recipient permitted to retain those of minimal value --clarify whether gifts from (current approach). quasi-governmental and multi- national organizations are --Consenting to the recipient's included under the provisions retention of gifts of minimal of the act, value, where their refusal would likely caus?: offense or --distinguish and prcvide for embarrassment or adversely the acceptance of intangible affect the foreign reations gifts and emoluments of more of the United States, aIrd than minimal value, such as prohibiting the acceptance travel, where the benefits of gifts above such value. 13 .APPENDIX I APPENDIX T -- Co'.senting to the recipi- --Prohibiting the acceptance of elit's acceptance and re- any gifts by Federal employ- tention of all gifts, where ees. (See pp. 25 to 28.) their refusal would likely cause offense or embarrass- GAO has drafted a revised stat- ment or adversely affect ute, based on the current ap- the foreign relations of proach and the problems identi- the United States. fied during this review. (See app. V.) 14 *APPENDIX II APPENDIX II REVISED STATUTE A BILL To amend and improve 5 U.S.C. S7342. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That 5 U.S.C. §7342 is hereby repealed and the follow- ing new section is substituted therefor: 57342. Receipt and disposition of foreign gifts and decorations. "(a) For the purpose of this section-- "(1) 'employee' means-- "(A) an employee as defined by section 2105 of this title; "(B) an expert or consultant while under contract with the United States or any agency, department, or establishment, thereof pursuant to section 3109 of this title; " iC) an individual employed by, or occupying an office or position in, the government of a ter:itory or possession of the United States or the District of Columbia; "(D) a member of a uniformed service; "(E) the President; "(F) a Member of Congress as defined by section 2106 of this title or any Delegate to the Congress; and "(G. a member of the family and household of an individual described in subparagraphs (A)-IF) of this paragraph; 1/ 1/ This provision would reenact subsection (a)(l)(F) of the existing act. For discussion of problems created by this provision and the countervailing considerations, see p. 16 of our report, ID-75-51, March 26, 1975. 15 APPENDIX II APPENDIX II "(2) 'foreign government' means-- "(A) all units of foreign governmental authority, including foreign national, state, local, and municipal governments; "(B) international and multinational organizations whose membership is composed, in whole or in part, of foreign governments as defined in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph; 2/ and "(C) an agent or representative of a .oreign government as defined in subpara- graph (A) and (B) of this paragraph, whether acting in an official or private capacity; "(3) 'gift' means a present or thing, other than a decoration, tendered by or received from a foreign government, but does not include assistance for which the Congress consents to the acceptance pursuant to section 108A of the r:utual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended ; "(4) 'decoration' means an order, device, medal, badge, insignia, or emblem tendered by or received from a foreign government; "(5) 'minimal value' means a retail value at time of acceptance not in excess of $100 in the United States; provided that every three years from the date of enactment of this section, 'minimal value' shall be redefined in regulations prescribed by the Administrator of the General Services Administration in consultation with the Secretary of State to reflect changes in the consumer price index for the prior three-year period; provided further that regulations of the employing agencies of the Government may define 'minimal value' for their employees to be less than the value prescribed under this paragraph; 2/ It is unclear under the existing act whether gifts from such organizations are subject to the act. 16 APPENDIX II APPENDIX II "(6) 'employing agency of the Government' means the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for Members and employees of the House of Representatives; the Select Committee on Standards and Conduct for Senators and employees of the Senate; the department, agency, office, or other entity in which an employee is employed for all other legislative branch employees and all executive branch employees; and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for judicial branch employees. "(b) An employee may not-- "(1) request or otherwise encourage the tender of a gift or decora- tion; or "(2) accept a gift or decoration except in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) and (d). "(c) (1) Congress consents to-- "(A) the accepting and retaining by an employee of a gift of minimal value tendered or received as a souvenir or mark of courtesy; and "(B) the accepting by an employee of a gift of more than minimal value when it appears that to refuse the gift would likely cause offense or embar- rassment or otherwise adversely affect the foreign relations of the United States; provided, however, that a gift of more than minimal value is deemed to have been accepted on behalf of the United States and, upon acceptance, shall become the property of the United States; provided further, that an employee may accept gifts of travel expenses such as transportation, food, and lodging of more than minimal value from a foreign government only when the employing agency of the Government determines that (1) the 17 APPENDIX Ii APPENDIX II employee is on official business, (2) the expenses would otherwise be reimbursable by the United States, and (3) the circumstances and conditions make acceptance of such expenses necessary. The Secre- tary of State shall promulgate uniform guidelines for the use of the Government to implement this proviso. "(2) Within 60 days of acceptance of a gift of more than minimal value, the donee shall-- "(A) deposit the gift for disposal with the Secretary of State or his delegate; or "(B) subject to the approval of the employing agency of the Gov- ernment and the concurrence of the Secretary of State, deposit the gift for official use with the employing agency of the Govern- ment. Within 30 days of termin- ation of the official user the employing agency of the Govern- ment shall deposit the gift for disposal with the Secretary of State. "(3) when a donee deposits a gift of more than minimal value for disposal or for official use under subsection (c)(2), or within 30 days of acceptance of travel expenses as provided in subsection (c)(l)(B); the donee shall file a statement with the Secretary of State containing the information prescribed in subsection (f) of this section for that gift. 18 APPENDIX II APPENDIX II "(d) Congress consents to the accepting, retaining, and wearing by an employee of a decoration tendered in recognition of active field service in time of combat operations or awarded for other outstanding or unusually meritorious performance, subject to the approval of the employing agency of the Government and the concurrence of the Secretary of State. Without this approval and concurrence, the decoration is deemed to have been accepted on behalf of the United States, shall become the property of the United States, and shall be deposited by the donee, within 60 days of acceptance, with the Secretary of State or his delegate for official use or disposal. "(e) Gifts and decorations that have been deposited with the Secretary of State or his delegate for disposal shall be (1) returned to the donor, or (2) forwarded to the General Services Administration for trans- fer, donation, or other disposal in accor- dance with the provisions of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (63 Stat. 377). However, no gift or decoration that has been deposited for disposal shall be sold except with the approval of the Secretary of State or his delegate after determining that the sale will not adversely affect the foreign rela- tions of the United States. Gifts and decorations may be sold by negotiated sales. 3,/ "(f) As soon as practicable after December 31 of a calendar year but no later than January 31 of the succeeding year, the 3/ It is the view of the State Department and General Services Administration that the present Foreign Gifts and Decor- ations Act contains an independent grant of authority to dispose of U.S. property. If this proposed subsection (e) is not enacted, the Congress should place some restrictions on the types of disposition that may be authorized. 19 APPENDIX II APPENDIX II Secretary of State shall compile a listing of all statements filed in accordance with subvsection (c)(3) and shall cause the listing to be published in the Federal Register. The listing shall include the following information for each gift reported: "(1) the name and position of the employee; "(2) a brief description of each gift accepted; "(3) the foreign government that presented each gift; and "(4) the date of acceptance of each gift. "(g) (1) The Secretary of State shall prescribe regulations to carry out the purpose of this section. These regulations shall be implemented by ,ilch of the employ- ing agencies of the Government for their employees. "(2) The employing agency of the Government shall document cases in which there is reason to believe that an employee has violated this section and refer such cases to the Department of Justice; obtain an independent appraisal of gifts when necessary; and take other similar actions necessary to carry out the purpose of this section. "(h) (1) Any employee who fails to deposit a gift cf more than minimal value as required under subsections (c)(2)(A) or (B) of this section shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than twelve months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. 20 APPENDIX II APPENDIX II "(2) The penalty authorized in 18 U.S.C. §641 for unlawfully converting property of the United States shall apply to the !-.lawful retention of gifts of more than minimal value." 21
Actions Recommended to Make the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act More Effective
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-06-23.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)