The Board of Regents’ Policy Guidelines on Gifts

Governor Roy Barnes has established an Ethics in Government Policy for employees of the Executive Branch of the State to encourage a commitment of fidelity to the public interest for the people of Georgia.

The Board of Regents has established policy (Policies 802.16 through 802.1603) congruent with the Governor’s Ethics in Government Policy and established its expectations for employees of the University System of Georgia.

I  Prohibited Receipt of Gifts by University System Employees.

An employee of the Board of Regents shall not directly or indirectly solicit, receive, accept, or agree to receive a thing of value by inducing the reasonable belief that the giving of the thing will influence his/her performance or failure to perform any official action.

An employee of the University System of Georgia or any other person on his/her behalf, is prohibited from knowingly accepting, directly, a gift from any vendor or lobbyist as those terms are defined in Georgia statutes (O.C.G.A. 21-5-70(6) and 45-1-6(a)(5)b;  If a gift has been accepted by the employee on behalf of the institution, it is subject to reporting requirements of the Board of Regents.  If the gift is accepted, the person receiving the gift shall not maintain custody of the gift for any period of time beyond that reasonably necessary to arrange for the transfer of custody and owner- ship of the gift.
For purposes of this policy a gift is defined as lodging, transportation, personal services, a gratuity, subscriptions, membership, trip, loan, extension of credit, forgiveness of debt, advance or deposit of money, or anything of value.  A gift shall not include:

a. Food or beverage consumed at single meal or event; Provided the value is reasonable under the circumstances but in no event exceeds $100 per person;
b. Food, beverages, and registration at group events to which substantial numbers of employees of an institution are invited;
c. Food, beverage, or expenses afforded employees, relatives or others that are associated with normal and customary business or social functions or activities;
d.  Actual and reasonable expenses for food, beverages, travel, lodging and registration provided to permit participation in a meeting related to official or professional duties if participation has been approved in writing by the Chancellor, the institution President, or his/her designee;
e. Promotional items generally distributed to the general public;
f. Textbooks, software, and instructional materials to be reviewed by teaching faculty; an award, plaque, certificate, memento, or similar item given in recognition of the recipient’s civic, charitable, political, professional, private or public service or achievement;
g. Legitimate salary, honoraria, benefit, fees, commissions, or expenses associated  with the recipient’s non-public business, employment, trade, or profession;
h. Gifts from a person or entity who is neither a lobbyist nor a vendor as those terms are defined in State Statutes, nor a student or patient at an institution;
i. Consulting fees, honoraria, or financial benefits from sponsors or foundations, received in conformance with the University System, campus policies, and Georgia law;
j. Gifts to or from University System foundations or other separately incorporated, charitable entities.
II.  Appearance of Conflicts of Interest
An employee shall make every reasonable effort to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.  An appearance of conflict exists when a reasonable person will conclude from the circumstances that the employee’s ability to protect the public interest, or perform public duties, are compromised by personal interest.  An appearance of conflict can exist even in the absence of a legal conflict of interest.  Employees are referred to State Conflict of Interest Statutes O.C.G.A§45-10-20 through §45-1070 and Board of Regents Policies 802.16 through 802.1603
III.    Other Rules of Conduct
1. Every employee shall make an effort determine whether  he/she  has a conflict of  interest  or appearance of  conflict before taking any action.
2. Every employee shall continually monitor, evaluate,  and manage his/her personal financial and professional affairs to ensure the absence of  conflicts of interest and appearance of conflicts.
IV.     Violations
A violation of this policy may subject an employee to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
Questions regarding the interpretation of this policy may be addressed to
Mr. Ronald B. Stark,
Associate Vice Chancellor of Audits
or Ms. Betsey Neely,
Associate Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs

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