Gifts & Gratuities

The Code of Ethics bans anything of value given by or received from a prohibited source. There is no de minimis exception for gifts.

Prohibited Sources

A prohibited source is any person, company, or entity that is doing business with the City, seeking to do business with the City, actively promoting or opposing city legislation, has a matter pending before a city agency, is registered as a lobbyist with the State Ethics Commission, or has interests that could be substantially affected by the performance of the employee’s official duties.  It may include non-profit organizations and city partners, such as Central Atlanta Progress.

Example: A neighborhood civic association that frequently opposes rezoning is a prohibited source and may not give free tickets to city councilmembers, members of the Urban Design Commission, or employees in the planning department.

No Personal Gifts

Employees may not accept personal gifts of cash, meals, golf, tickets, or honoraria.  Citizens who want to reward city employees for excellent service may tell the employee's supervisor or write an email to the department head.

Example: An employee who accepts reservations for ballfields may not accept a $50 gift certificate from an adult league that reserves softball fields in Piedmont Park every season.

Example: A customer service clerk who handles payments of water bills can not accept $20 from a citizen who received special assistance in paying his monthly bill.

Gifts Allowed

There are 11 exceptions to the ban on gratuities. The most important ones permit officials and employees to accept reasonable meals at a public event, travel to conferences, and gifts to the City.

Reasonable meals at public events. Employees may accept reasonable meals and refreshments furnished in connection with their appearance in an official capacity at a public, civic, charitable, or non-profit ceremony, event, convention, or conference. It doesn’t matter if the event sponsor is a city contractor or vendor.

Example: Employees in the Department of Information Technology may accept a lunch that is provided as part of a seminar sponsored by a city vendor when the event is open to employees of other private companies and governments in the metro Atlanta area.

Gifts to the City. Gifts may be accepted on behalf of a department or city agency when disclosed on a city gift report.

Example: Fleet Services may accept trucks donated from United Parcel Services.

Holiday gift rule. The holiday gift rule allows employees to accept a gift on behalf of the agency from a city contractor or vendor when the gift is perishable, of modest value, and shared with the public or others in the office.

No Free Tickets

City officials and employees generally may not accept free tickets to any entertainment or athletic event that is offered because of the individual's position with the City, unless they are performing an official duty at the event. Examples of an official duty are throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game, meeting with officials from other governments, or officially welcoming visitors at a public event on behalf of the City.

Example: The City Attorney may accept tickets from the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority to attend opening day of the baseball season when attorneys representing the state and other local governments will also be present in the authority’s box.

Example: The Fire Rescue Department may accept 100 circus tickets offered to the agency, provided that it distributes the tickets fairly and without favoritism to the staff or the community and discloses the gift on an online gift report form.

Other Things of Value that May Be Accepted

There are other exceptions that allow officials and employees to accept (1) awards, plaques, certificates, mementos, novelties, or similar items given in recognition of public service; (2) nominal gifts from representatives of other governments; (3) gifts from family members; and (4) campaign contributions.

Code of Ethics

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Atlanta, GA 30303