FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
For Employees For Supervisors
A. FAQs for Employees Requesting Authorization
A widely attended gathering is a meeting, conference, or other event which is expected to be attended by a large number of people representing a wide range of interests (e.g., open to members from throughout an industry or profession) and that will provide expected attendees an opportunity to exchange ideas and views.
When you are invited to an event because of your official position or by a prohibited source and you are not expected to pay for your attendance (i.e., the event will be free to you). Below are examples of events for which you would need to submit a DI-1958:
a. A reception taking place in the evening and hosted by a company regulated by your agency; and
b. A local multi-day conference that you are attending beyond the day you are scheduled to speak in an official capacity.
Yes, it should be used when you are invited to a local event because of your official position or by a prohibited source and you are not expected to pay for your attendance (i.e., the event will be free to you).
A prohibited source is any person, company, or organization that (a) is seeking official action by your “agency”; (b) does/seeks to do business with your “agency”; (c) conducts activities that are regulated by your “agency”; or (d) has interests that might be affected by the performance or nonperformance of your official duties. It also includes an organization a majority of whose members are described in (a)-(d) (e.g., a trade organization).
The term “agency” means the Department in entirety, to include all Bureaus/Offices or, if you are an employee of one of the separate agency components designated in the Department’s supplemental ethics regulations, that particular component. The following eleven components of the Department are designated as separate agency components: (1) Bureau of Indian Affairs (which includes the Bureau of Indian Education); (2) Bureau of Land Management; (3) Bureau of Reclamation; (4) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; (5) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Energy; (6) National Indian Gaming Commission; (7) National Park Service; (8) Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement; (9) Office of Special Trustee for American Indians; (10) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and (11) U.S. Geological Survey.
If you are not sure if a particular person, company, or organization is a prohibited source for you, then contact the ethics team servicing your Bureau/Office for assistance.
Generally, a DI-1958 should be used for local events attended in a personal capacity and taking place outside of work hours whereas a DI-2000 should be used for events attended in an official capacity, but taking place away from your duty station and involving official travel. There may be circumstances, however, where you should use a DI-1958 for local events taking place during work hours or for other events you attend while on official travel, but on your own time. Please see examples below:
a. A DI-1958 should be submitted to obtain advance approval to accept a gift of free attendance at:
i. Local events taking place outside of work hours (e.g., a reception or holiday party); and
ii. Local events involving a registration fee that take place during work hours on one or multiple days and at which you are not presenting any official information on behalf of the agency on the day(s) you intend to attend (e.g., a conference or meeting).
b. A DI-2000 should be submitted to obtain advance approval to accept travel-related gifts offered by a non-Federal source in connection with official travel. Examples of travel-related gifts include the following:
i. Waived registration fee that includes meals, materials and/or other benefits offered to all attendees by the non-Federal sponsor of a multi-day conference or similar event taking place out of state and at which the employee is presenting information on behalf of their Bureau/Office and the employee intends to (1) partake of any one or more of the items included in the registration fee; and/or (2) attend the event on a day(s) other than the day they are presenting information; and
ii. Hotel and/or airfare to attend a conference at which an employee is presenting information on behalf of their Bureau/Office.
No form is required if an employee is attending a local event and only on a day(s) on which they are actually assigned to present information on behalf of their Bureau/Office at the event. If, however, an employee intends to attend a local event on a day(s) beyond the day they are assigned to present information in an official capacity, then a DI-1958 should be completed. In circumstances where such an event involves official travel, then a DI-2000 should be submitted (see also FAQs for DI-2000). Please reach out to the ethics team servicing your Bureau/Office with any questions for further guidance on approval for official speaking engagements.
Fill out the DI-1958 and send it via email to the ethics team servicing your Bureau/Office. Their contact information is located here
The ethics team will review the DI-1958 and provide you written ethics guidance. You must then submit the DI-1958 and ethics guidance to your supervisor for review and approval.
Your DI-1958 will first be reviewed by the ethics team servicing your Bureau/Office for a determination as to whether the event meets certain requirements for acceptance of free attendance under the widely attended gatherings gift exception. Your DI-1958 will then be reviewed and approved or disapproved by your supervisor.
Yes, your DI-1958 must be signed by your supervisor before you attend the event. Advanced written authorization is required by the ethics regulations if you intend to rely on the widely attended gatherings gift exception.
No, your supervisor must approve your acceptance of free attendance at the event you intend to attend in writing, using the DI-1958, and prior to you attending the event. The supervisor approval block on the DI-1958 includes specific findings being made by your supervisor that are required by the ethics regulations in order for the widely attended gatherings gift exception to apply to the gift of free attendance at the event.
Acceptance of free attendance at a widely attended gathering is considered the receipt of a gift. Even though you are receiving the gift in your personal capacity and on your own time, the gift exception in the ethics regulations that is relevant to widely attended gatherings requires a written determination by your supervisor finding that: (1) your attendance at the event is in the interest of the agency because it will further agency programs or operations; and (2) the agency’s interest in your attendance at the event outweighs any appearance concerns with the gift of free attendance.
The “host” of an event is the organization that is responsible for actively organizing, planning, and conducting the event you intend to attend. The “host” of the event provides more than just the physical space at which the event will be held. The “host” also does more than merely provide financial support for the event. On occasion, there may be more than one “host” of an event.
Add up all costs associated with the event such as the registration fee, food, refreshments, entertainment, instruction, or materials provided to all attendees as a part of the event. If the costs are not clear from the invitation, you must ask the host for this information.
Please submit your DI-1958 as soon as possible, but no later than five (5) business days before the event.
It depends on the circumstances.
To be able to bring a guest/spouse to the event, the widely attended gatherings gift exception requires certain conditions to be met: (1) the invitation extended to your spouse or guest must be from the same person that invited you; (2) other attendees of the event will generally be accompanied by a spouse or a guest; and (3) the invitation extended to your spouse or guest must be unsolicited. Additionally, your supervisor must authorize your spouse or guest to accompany you at the event in writing and prior to the event.
You may only bring a staffer to the event on the day you are assigned to participate in the event as a speaker, panel member, or otherwise to present information on behalf of your Bureau/Office or the Department at the event and the accompanying employee is deemed essential by the agency to your participation in the event.
Please consult with the ethics team servicing your Bureau/Office for additional guidance.
Generally, no. The offer of free attendance to a local event, to the extent the event constitutes a widely attended gathering and the offer was extended to you because of your official position or from a prohibited source, is a gift to you personally. Assuming the gift of free attendance is transferable in the first place, if you cannot attend the event and then elect to have another Department official attend the event on your behalf, not only will you be accepting the gift of “free attendance,” which may or may not be permissible under the gift rules applicable to gifts from outside sources, but you will also be giving a gift of free attendance to an employee, which may or may not be permissible under the gift rules applicable to gifts between employees. Also, if the gift of free attendance to the event is not transferable, your election to have another Department official attend the event on your behalf may constitute, or at the very least create the appearance of, the solicitation of a gift on behalf of an alternate attendee.
If you cannot attend an event to which you have been offered free attendance, it is recommended that you inform the person who extended you the invitation that you cannot attend the event. Contact the ethics team servicing your Bureau/Office if you need additional guidance.
Potentially, yes, if you are required to file a financial disclosure report (OGE Form 450/278e). Financial disclosure report filers must report gifts of free attendance accepted under the widely attended gatherings gift exception if the “monetary value of attendance” at the event exceeds a certain amount:
a. If the “monetary value of attendance” does not exceed $166, then the gift of free attendance does not need to be reported on a financial disclosure report. Also, it does not need to be aggregated with any other gifts received from the same source for the purpose of determining if the gift must be reported on your financial disclosure report.
b. If the “monetary value of attendance” exceeds $415, or if it exceeds $166 and you accept other gifts from the same source in excess of $166 each and their aggregate value for the reporting period reaches more than $415, then the gift of free attendance at the event must be reported on your financial disclosure report.
Please note that the threshold amounts change every three (3) years. The last change was published in June 2020 and is applicable as of January 1, 2020.
Yes, please keep a copy of your approved DI-1958 and ethics guidance for your records.
Yes. In most cases you cannot use the widely attended gatherings (WAG) gift exception if (1) the gift of free attendance to the event is provided by a registered lobbyist or a registered lobbying organization, or (2) if the person who invited you to attend the event, regardless of who is providing the gift of free attendance, is a registered lobbyist.
There may be instances, however, where you will be able to rely on the WAG gift exception if the registered lobbying organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, institution of higher education, or media organization.
Check with your ethics team on the application of the WAG gift exception if you are subject to the Ethics Pledge and your event involves a registered lobbyist or a registered lobbying organization.
You should reach out to the person who invited you and ask them directly (1) if they are a registered lobbyist; and (2) if the host of the event is either a registered lobbyist or a registered lobbying organization.
You can also search the Senate database
and the House database
to determine whether the person who invited you and/or the event host is a registered lobbyist or a registered lobbying organization.
Your ethics team also is available to assist you.
FAQs for Supervisors Reviewing/Authorizing an Employee's Request for Authorization
First consider whether your employee (or any other member of your staff) is participating in any official matter(s) involving, or that are of interest to, the person/entity who extended the invitation. Second consider whether this particular person/entity has any business before or seeks to do business with your Bureau/Office or the Department, is regulated by your Bureau/Office or the Department, is in litigation involving your Bureau/Office or the Department, or will otherwise be impacted in any way by any deliberation, determination, or action by your Bureau/Office or the Department.
For example, if the person/entity has submitted a contract proposal or a request for a grant with the Department, those would be pending official matters that could affect their interest. Similarly, if the person/entity has or seeks a lease(s), a permit(s), or other similar benefits, or if the organization represents companies, industries, or entities who seek such benefits, then those would be pending official matters that could affect their interest as well.
Note that when there are pending official matters of interest to the person/entity who invited the employee, you should consider the nature and sensitivity of the employee’s role in the matter(s), and the importance of the event at which the employee is requesting approval to attend or participate to your agency or office.
A helpful tool to assist you identify whether the person/entity who invited the employee has any official matters pending before your Bureau/Office or the Department is the USA spending website https://www.usaspending.gov/
There can be a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:
a. Sharing Bureau/Office or Department information with event attendees;
b. To publicize the Bureau’s/Office’s or Department’s position with event attendees;
c. To clarify the Bureau’s/Office’s or Department’s position with event attendees;
d. To keep the Bureau/Office or Department current on outside information; or
e. To gauge the reaction of the public/interested parties to Bureau/Office or Department business.
Although no single factor is determinative in assessing whether your Bureau’s/Office’s interest in the employee’s attendance outweighs the concern that the employee may be, or may appear to be, improperly influenced in the performance of duties if they were to accept the gift of free attendance, you may consider the following relevant factors:
a. The importance of the event to your Bureau/Office or the Department;
b. The nature and sensitivity of any pending matter affecting the interests of the person who extended the invitation and the significance of the employee’s role in any such matter;
c. The purpose of the event;
d. The identify of other expected participants;
e. Whether acceptance would reasonably create the appearance that the donor is receiving preferential treatment;
Whether the Government is also providing persons with views or interests that differ from the donor with access to the Government; and
g. The market value of the gift of free attendance.
You may consider the same factors noted in FAQ No. 3 above. However, rather than focusing on the interest of the Bureau/Office or the Department, you should focus on how a reasonable person having knowledge of all of these factors would react, and more specifically, whether they would question the employee’s impartiality or question the integrity of the Bureau/Office or Department if the employee were to accept the gift of free attendance at the event.