POL-G-063, Version 1.0, 22 November 2019
Acceptance of gifts and benefits policy
The National Museum of Australia (the Museum) is a major cultural institution charged with researching, collecting, preserving and exhibiting historical material of the Australian nation. The Museum focuses on the three interrelated areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, Australia’s history and society since European settlement in 1788 and the interaction of people with the environment.
Established in 1980, the Museum is a publicly funded institution governed as a statutory authority in the Commonwealth Arts portfolio. The Museum’s building on Acton Peninsula, Canberra opened in March 2001.
This policy provides principles for Museum employees accepting offers of gifts and benefits.
The purpose of this policy is to:
- set guidelines for employees to consider when offered gifts or benefits in the course of their official duties
- establish thresholds for approving acceptance of gifts and benefits.
As a general principle, Museum employees should not accept gifts or benefits. The main risk of accepting a gift or benefit is that it may result in an actual or perceived conflict of interest. At the extreme, it could be perceived as a bribe, which is an offence under the Criminal Code and a breach of the APS and Museum Code of Conduct. It is essential the public is confident the APS is impartial and professional.
However, it is accepted that minor gift giving, and the offer and acceptance of hospitality, is a normal part of doing business and that there are circumstances in which refusal of a gift can cause offence. Balanced judgement and common sense are therefore required when dealing with offers of gifts and benefits, taking into account the reasonable expectations of stakeholders.
To assist employees in making these decisions, an approval and documentation process, based on monetary thresholds, is outlined in section 4.3 of this policy.
4.1 What is a gift or benefit?
A gift or benefit may include, but is not limited to:
- offers of cash or shares, including tips
- meals or other hospitality
- gifts, such as bottles of wine, tickets to events, manufacturer’s samples or personal items
- promotional materials, including clothing or books
- sponsored travel
- benefits under loyalty schemes, such as frequent flyer schemes
- competition prizes at promotional events
- accommodation and hire car discounts
- entertainment, such as meals, seats at sporting or theatre events or golf days
- discounts on goods and services
- free or discounted places on training and development courses (other than contra-deals associated with the presentation of papers).
4.2 Acceptance of gifts or benefits by Museum employees
The overriding philosophies with respect to the acceptance of gifts and benefits by Museum employees in the course of their official duties are transparency and avoidance of any perception of conflict of interest.
Acceptance of gifts or benefits is not appropriate if the person or company providing the gift or benefit is:
- involved in a procurement process (including tender activity) with the Museum
- the subject of a decision within the discretionary power or substantial influence of the Museum employee concerned.
Particular care should also be taken if the person or organisation is in a contractual relationship with the Commonwealth or if the organisation’s primary purpose is to lobby ministers, members of parliament or Commonwealth agencies.
Gifts of cash or shares are never acceptable. Generally it is expected that Museum employees will not accept payment for activities considered part of their normal duties. If an employee is offered a fee to speak at a work-related conference, it may be accepted providing the money is payable to the Museum.
Sponsored travel would not normally be approved. As a general principle, the Museum should meet the expenses associated with work undertaken by its employees. An exception may be considered, for example, where travel costs are being paid by another organisation for an employee to speak at a conference. Offers by companies to fly employees outside Canberra for product familiarisations or business negotiations should not be approved.
It should, however, be noted that this policy does not cover any commercial arrangement between the Museum and other entities whereby the payment of travel costs forms part of the agreed payment for services.
All gifts and benefits received by Museum employees during the course of doing business are considered to be the property of the Museum. Gifts retained by the Museum will be used for the benefit of the Museum or, if this is not practical, donated to the Museum social club or a charity.
4.3 Thresholds for approval of accepting gifts or benefits and required documentation
Employees should, wherever possible, seek permission to accept gifts and benefits in advance.
The Museum thresholds for seeking approval and documenting a gift or benefit are:
- Gifts or benefits with a commercial value of greater than $100 must be approved by the Director, Deputy Director or relevant Assistant Director in writing. The written approval, including details of the gift/benefit, must be included in the Museum’s Gift Register. If the gift or benefit is accepted, the approving official will decide on whether it can be kept by the recipient or remains the property of the Museum.
- Gifts or benefits with a commercial value between $20 and $100 must be approved by the Business Unit Manager in writing (an email is sufficient). Details of the gift/benefit must be included in the Museum’s Gift Register. If the gift is accepted, the Business Unit Manager will decide on whether it can be kept by the recipient or remains the property of the Museum. It would normally be expected that gifts of this value would be kept by the recipient.
- In general, gifts or benefits with a value of $20 or less (except cash and those from a prospective/current provider during a procurement or tender process) need not be declared. However, a Business Unit Manager may instruct staff to disclose these items if they think it appropriate.
5. Definition of terms
Employees — ongoing and non-ongoing Museum employees. The policy does not apply to independent contractors. Accordingly, it is anticipated that contractual arrangements relating to non-employees (including where functions are outsourced to external providers) will address conflict-of-interest principles where appropriate.
Museum volunteers are expected to abide by the requirements set out in this policy as part of their agreement to act as a volunteer with the Museum.
Gifts and Benefits — see section 4.1
Gift Register — the central record of gifts and benefits received by the employees of the Museum
6. Definition of responsibilities
Maintain the Gift Register
Seek approval for acceptance of gifts and benefits
Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Directors, Business Unit Managers
Approve acceptance of gifts and benefits in accordance with the thresholds in section 4.3 and ensure documentation is forwarded to the area responsible for maintaining the gift register.
Public Service Act 1999
Code of Conduct — Guidelines and Procedures, National Museum of Australia APS Values and Code of Conduct, Australian Public Service Commission
This policy covers all employees of the Museum
8.2 Other related policies
Commonwealth procurement rules
Code of Conduct guidelines and procedures
Procurement and probity guidance
Commercial arrangements where third-party entities provide benefits that form part of the agreed payment for services.
8.4 Superseded policies
This policy supersedes Staff circular SC-007 acceptance of gifts and benefits.
Implementation of this policy will be monitored by the Chief Finance Officer and the Assistant Directors.
22 November 2019
12 February 2019
Public and all staff
Gift, benefits, ethic code of conduct
Chief Finance Officer
Staff Circular SC-007, Acceptance of gifts and benefits policy (approved 24 Sep 2004)
Code of Conduct Guidelines and Procedures, National Museum of Australia
National Museum of Australia