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Policy: Acceptance of Gifts and Special Benefits from Vendors 

Date: 03/10/08 Policy ID: FIN-019 Status: Final

Policy Type: University
Contact Office: Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services
Oversight Executive: Vice President for Management and Budget
Applies To: Academic Division
Table of Contents: 

Policy Statement

  1. Goods and Services
  2. Travel Privileges and Unused Tickets
  3. Vendor Paid Travel


Reason for Policy: 

Acceptance of gifts or other special benefits from vendors can give the appearance of impropriety, compromise the employee’s integrity or potentially place an employee in a conflict of interest situation.  In certain circumstances, the employee also could be subject to criminal prosecution.

Policy Summary: Employees may not accept gifts or other benefits of value from vendors for services performed within the scope of their official duties as University employees.
Definition of Terms in Statement: 

Gifts or Other Special Benefits: Money, meals, loans, entertainment, advances, favors, special discounts, certificates, coupons, services, free merchandise or any other thing of value.

Vendor: Any entity that supplies goods or services.
Policy Statement: 

An employee of the University must not solicit or accept any gift, payment, loan or anything else of more than nominal or minimal value from a bidder, offeror, contractor, or subcontractor. Items of nominal value bearing advertising, such as matchbooks, calendars, rulers, or note pads, may be accepted in circumstances that will not affect the integrity of the University Procurement process. This does not prohibit employees from buying goods or services, or obtaining loans, for their personal use where they pay consideration equal to that of the general public for the goods, services or loans; nor does it prohibit employees from accepting meals or beverages from vendors when offered to a large group of people at a trade show, exhibit or other professional meeting.

This policy does not apply to consulting agreements or other contractual arrangements where University employees are providing services to an outside vendor.

  1. Good and Services:
    All goods and services acquired by the University, through purchase, gift or otherwise, become the property of the University. Discount coupons or other things of value received in connection with a procurement transaction, even if not included in that transaction, also become the property of the University. Any department receiving such items should notify the Director of Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services within three business days of the receipt.

    If the item can be used for University business by the department making the original purchase, the department will be authorized to retain the item. If the item cannot be used by the department, Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services will assist in the transfer of the item to another department which can use it or surplus it. Under no circumstances can the item be given to or retained by an employee for his/her personal use.

Gift of goods or services – past, present or future – to the University or to an individual cannot influence the selection of a vendor to provide goods or services to the University.

  1. Travel Privileges or Unused Tickets:
    Any special privileges received from University travel, i.e., reduced rates, free services, free trips, free gifts, etc., or any unused portions of air or rail tickets, belong to the University and must be disclosed when submitting the travel reimbursement. These special privileges/unused tickets should be reported to the traveler's department and be used to reduce other appropriate travel expenses.

  2. Vendor Paid Travel:
    Travelers may not seek reimbursement for travel expenses directly from the vendor but should coordinate travel reimbursement with their department administrator. The University may seek reimbursement for travel of its employees from a vendor or potential vendor. In some circumstances, arrangements may be made for vendors or potential vendors to reimburse the University for travel expenses incurred by University employees to inspect or be trained on new equipment; to visit a site where goods or services can best be evaluated; or for some other purpose which is in the best interests of the University.

Vendor Paid Travel
Whether payment is made by the vendor or by the University:

  1. Employees must notify the applicable Vice President in writing at least one month in advance of such travel to ensure adequate time for review. The employee must provide the name of the vendor, the dates of the trip and the estimated value of the trip. The employee must also explain the reason for the trip and the benefit of the trip to the University.

  2. If pre-approved by the Vice President, the University employee may accept the trip. The traveler must seek reimbursement for travel expenditures from Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services, following the same procedure outlined under Travel Basics. The traveler is bound by the same conditions and spending limits prescribed for regular travel on official University business as outlined in the procedure for Travel Reimbursement and in policy FIN-030, Payment or Reimbursement of Travel Expenses.

  3. The employee’s supervisor should notify their department administrator to contact the vendor for the reimbursement. The reimbursement should be made payable to the University of Virginia (not the individual traveler) and deposited to University funds.
Related Information: 

Preparing Payment Vouchers
Conflict of Interest Policy
Reporting Fraudulent Transactions
Coordination of Development Activities at the University of Virginia 
Policy on Consulting by Faculty of the University of Virginia

Policy Background: 
Major Category: Finance and Business Operations
Category Cross Reference: 
Next Scheduled Review: 03/10/14
Approved By, Date: Policy Review Committee, 03/10/08
Revision History: Updated 4/11/11.
Supersedes (previous policy):  Acceptance of Gifts or Other Special Benefits from Vendors to the University, VII.D.5
Preparing Payment Vouchers/Reimbursing Departments through Vendor Paid Travel, Procedure 6-101.