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Gratuities and Kickbacks

The Purchasing Department encourages university employees to understand and follow regulations regarding gratuities and kickbacks—the acceptance of items of value from vendors and others interested in selling goods or services to the university. The following information offers an overview of the provisions prohibiting gratuities:

The Utah Procurement Code provisions related to acceptance of gifts apply to university employees engaged in two roles:

1. Procurement Participants: Employees preparing for, administering, conducting, or making decisions regarding a procurement process; those making a recommendation/award regarding a procurement contract or decision to obtain a procurement item from a particular party; and those evaluating a bid, quote, or response during a procurement process.

2. Procurement Contract Administrators: Employees who administer a current procurement contract including making payments, ensuring compliance with the contract, auditing, or enforcing the contract.

If you are currently engaged in either of these roles, then the prohibition on gifts and gratuities applies to you and your family members. This means is it unlawful for an interested vendor to give you a gift and for you to accept the gift. “Gift” includes travel, meal, lodging, money, loan, entertainment tickets, etc.—regardless of the value.

However, there are some exceptions. First, there is a very narrow exception for “hospitality items” valued at less than $10. Hospitality items include a pen, stationery, toy, pin, trinket, snack, nonalcoholic beverage, or appetizer. It does not include a meal, money, ticket, admittance to an event, entertainment, travel, or lodging. Hospitality items may be accepted from a vendor as long as the value of hospitality items from one vendor does not exceed $50 in one year.

There is also an exception for “contributions” to public entities as long as the contribution is not made with the intent to influence a procurement process or administration of a procurement contract. This exception includes the following:

  • It is lawful for a vendor to provide a voluntary donation to the university for the university’s use. This includes donation of money, services, or other items of value.
  • It is also permissible for a vendor to provide to the university admission to a seminar, supplier fair, charitable event, fundraising event, or similar event relating to the function of the university.
  • It is also lawful for a vendor to sponsor a university event or for a vendor to purchase a booth at an event sponsored by the university.

In general, we recommend separating those engaged in procurement activities and administration of procurement contracts from those engaged in development and other activities involved with donations/contributions. By clearly differentiating these roles and having separate employees fulfill these duties, it will alleviate the potential for the appearance of a violation of these provisions.

We recognize some university business units and organizations may adopt and practice rules more stringent than those outlined here. If there is any question about the propriety of any conduct, please don’t hesitate to contact the Purchasing Department or the Office of General Counsel for further guidance.

Utah Procurement Code:

Part 24 Unlawful Conduct and Penalties

Title 63G Chapter 6a Part 24 Unlawful Conduct and Penalties
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Title 63G Chapter 6a Part 5 Section 506 – Small Dollar Purchases (dividing small procurements)
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