Gifts from Vendors

  1. What is the rule on personal gifts from vendors?

    The New Jersey State Ethics Commission has interpreted the State Conflicts of Interest Law that any personal gift from a current or prospective vendor to public employees is inappropriate. Minor exceptions are discussed below.
  2. What about snacks and meals at a meeting at a vendor location for university business?

    Snacks, coffee, juice, and similar items are allowed. Accepting meals from a vendor is not permissible under the rules established by the Ethics Commission. However, it is all right if the university pays for the meals or if the employee reimburses the vendor for the meal. If there is an important approved occasion which university employees are attending as part of their job, then the university will make arrangements to reimburse the vendor for the cost of the meals.
  3. Can university employees receive meals from vendors when attending free vendor training on complex systems, which is usually an all-day event with meals served?

    The State Ethics Commission will not allow public employees to accept meals from vendors under any circumstances. If attendance at the training event is deemed valuable to the skills of university employees, then the university will pay the vendor for the cost of the meals.
  4. I attend conferences for which Rutgers has paid an attendance fee. I know that some of the meals are subsidized by vendors. Is it all right to accept those meals at the conference?

    Yes. The meals are included in the conference fee.
  5. At a conference, am I able to accept “give aways” from vendors?

    Certainly you can accept anything that might be evaluated for possible university use as vendors often give samples of their products away for these purposes.

    You may accept items of truly nominal value, such as give-away pens, hats, and cups. On the other hand, you will not want to use vendor-branded items at work as it could convey a bias and closer association with the vendor than is the case. Here you are expected to use your best judgment.
  6. Can I attend special vendor events at a conference at which food and liquor are generally served without charge? These are largely networking events for the sales staff of the vendor.

    No. This is essentially socializing with vendors with the vendor paying for the food and drink. Remember, vendor staff are sales people. Vendors are interested in selling their products, so the purpose of any vendor event is to create a favorable impression in order to have an employee buy their product. Your attendance at such an event creates an appearance of impropriety. The State Ethics Commission regularly underscores this as a significant potential minefield for creating problems of bias in public-sector procurement. Even when a public employee is not actually biased when participating in a subsequent decision respecting a vendor, there is still the problem of these events creating an appearance of impropriety including receiving a personal benefit on account of one’s public employment.
  7. Can I accept holiday gifts from vendors?

    No. Vendors will be advised by email that these gifts are inappropriate and that vendors should make their best efforts to inform their staff that gifts to Rutgers employees are inappropriate. This notice will become part of all purchase orders and will be on the procurement website which should curtail offers of holiday (or other) gifts. 
  8. What should I do if I receive a gift from a vendor?

    If you receive a gift from a vendor, immediately contact the ethics office at or (732) 743-3344. The gift will either be returned by the ethics office or donated to a charitable organization identified by the University. The ethics office will instruct on the proper method for disposing of the gift and send a letter to the vendor.
  9. Can vendors give gifts to the university?

    Yes. Vendors often support the university with gifts of equipment or make financial gifts, but individual employees should not be the beneficiaries of these gifts. See the University Donor Gift Policy 40.2.13 [PDF].