Governance, Ethics and General

Gifts from Vendors or Others Doing or Seeking to do Business with the University

Section: Governance, Ethics and General Policies
Policy Name: Gifts from Vendors or Others Doing or Seeking to do Business with the University
Policy Owner: Vice President and General Counsel
Responsible University Office: Office of General Counsel
Origination Date: 1997
Revisions: November 2012; January 2015
Legacy Policy Number: 4-17
  1. SCOPE OF POLICYThis policy addresses the solicitation or receipt of gifts from vendors doing business with the University of Delaware and applies to all University employees.
  2. DEFINITIONSAs used in this policy, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated.
    1. A “gift” is a tangible or intangible gift, gratuity, favor, service, or other benefit of any value solicited or received from a vendor. A gift may consist of cash, gift certificate, volunteered service, or other thing or service of value.
    2. A “vendor” is an outside organization that is a seller of goods or services to the University, is doing business with the University, or is known to be seeking to do business with the University. The term includes any individual who is an officer, trustee, or staff member of an outside organization.
    3. An “employee” is a person employed on a full-time or part-time basis by the University of Delaware, including a faculty member, staff member, or other person who is paid compensation by the University through its payroll system.
    4. An “immediate family member” is an employee’s
 spouse or domestic partner,
 parent, grandparent, child or dependent, sibling, or spouse or domestic partner of any of the above.
  3. POLICY STATEMENTThe University of Delaware is committed to the highest standards of integrity and fairness and strives to avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in its dealings with vendors and others doing business or seeking to do business with the University. Consistent with this commitment, University employees and members of their immediate families are expected to uphold the integrity of the University when interacting with individuals or outside organizations that are sellers of goods or services to the University, are doing business with the University, or are known to be seeking to do business with the University. Along with exercising prudent business judgment, employees and members of their immediate families are expected not to compromise business relations or business transactions by soliciting or accepting a gift from any individual, company, or organization seeking any advantageous action by, or relationship with, the University.
    1. No employee or immediate family member shall accept a gift from a vendor, except as provided in Section III.C, III.D, or III.G of this policy. An unsolicited gift covered by the prohibition in this Section III. A shall be returned to the donor.
    2. An employee who is involved in preparing plans, specifications, or estimates for University construction contracts, awarding or administering such contracts, or inspecting or supervising construction may not solicit or accept a gift or allow an immediate family member to accept a gift from any vendor who has a current contract with the University, has performed under a contract within the past two (2) years, or is known to be a potential bidder on a University contract.
    3. An employee, other than an employee covered by Section III.B of this policy, and an employee’s immediate family member may accept:
      1. A plaque, trophy, nonmonetary award, or retirement commemoration;
      2. A gift of a promotional item without significant value that is routinely distributed by a vendor to a client and commonly given to large numbers of employees (illustrative examples being key chains, tee-shirts, thumb drives, promotional literature, coffee mugs, or similar items). Any gift of a promotional item worth $25 or more shall be presumed to be a gift of significant value;
      3. Informational or instructional materials that are commonly given by vendors to large numbers of employees (illustrative examples being booklets, audio or video tapes, digitized instructional materials, and similar items);
      4. Goodwill exchange gifts when an employee represents the University on a mission abroad or as part of a visit to another domestic institution or when officials from other institutions visit the University. Because refusing a gift could offend the hosting officials, such a gift can be accepted. If the gift is valued at $150 or more, it shall become the property of the University and disposition shall be determined by the employee’s supervisor or department head;
      5. Reimbursement of reasonable costs associated with the employee’s attendance at a business meeting with a vendor at the vendor’s place of business, provided that such reimbursement is approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor;
      6. A business meal with a vendor or prospective vendor or at a professional meeting or conference, provided that (a) the meal is primarily for business and not social purposes, and (b) the employee’s acceptance of the meal invitation is approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor. Illustrative examples of a permissible business-related meal include a visit to the vendor’s business as part of an investigation of a vendor’s capability to service the University, or to review a new product or new facilities; or a lunchtime break during an all-day meeting with the vendor. Repetitive business meals at the vendor’s expense are discouraged. A meal associated with socializing or entertainment at which University business is not discussed is not considered a business meal and is prohibited when paid for in whole or in part by a vendor;
      7. Reimbursement of reasonable costs associated with attendance at a seminar, class, or course (“learning opportunity”) offered by a vendor if the learning opportunity relates to the employee’s professional responsibilities at the University and if attendance at the learning opportunity is approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor;
      8. No-cost or reduced-cost participation in a holiday party, picnic, or charitable fundraising event sponsored by a vendor, provided that attendance at the event is approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor.
    4. An immediate family member who is employed by a vendor may accept normal gifts made by the vendor as part of the employment relationship.
    5. An employee involved in awarding or administering grants or contracts using federal or other government funds is prohibited by law from soliciting or receiving gratuities, favors, or anything of monetary value from current or potential contractors or sub-contractors.
    6. Supervisors and department heads are responsible for ensuring that this policy is communicated to and understood by employees in their unit and that it is effectively enforced.
    7. Occasionally a vendor sponsors an event of social, cultural, or community significance attendance at which would enable employees to promote University priorities by socializing or networking. If the President of the University or the President’s designee determines that it is in the University’s best interest for employees to attend such an event, then the President or the President’s designee may approve exceptions to this policy authorizing employees to attend at the vendor’s expense and to consume food and drink provided by the vendor to all attendees.
    8. An employee who violates this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
    9. Any employee who feels aggrieved by any decision of a supervisor made under this policy shall be entitled to file a grievance and to have that grievance adjudicated under the applicable University grievance procedure.