FAQs on the University's gifts and entertainment policy

In September 2014, Penn State instituted AD86, “Acceptance of Gifts and Entertainment.” The policy limits the dollar amount of gifts and entertainment an individual may receive from a company or individual that is conducting current or potential business with the University to a value of $100 or less.

The following are frequently asked questions that the Office of Ethics and Compliance has compiled during the first months of implementing this policy University-wide.

Who is affected by AD86?

The policy covers any individual Penn State employee who is in a position of authority to make or influence a decision to select or recommend particular companies, individuals or services for University business purposes.

How do I know if AD86 applies to me?

You are covered by the policy anytime you are in a position to make or influence a decision to select or recommend a particular company, person or service for University business. For example, if you are on the selection or recommendation committee or are asked to provide feedback on a particular software package before your unit or the University purchases it or enters into a contract with the software company, you would be covered by AD86 with respect to that software company.

Are students considered to be conducting business with the University?

Yes. Students purchase services from the University, including educational services. Any employee who has a decision-making capacity with respect to a student’s services with the University (including assigning grades) is prohibited from receiving certain gifts or entertainment from students according to the guidelines of AD86.

What is the maximum amount of a gift or entertainment that I may accept?

AD86 limits the amount of a gift or entertainment to $100. Your unit or department may have more restrictive limits or policies in addition to AD86.

What should I do if a current or potential business partner with the University offers me a gift or entertainment worth more than $100?

If you know of the pending gift or entertainment in advance, you must get approval and guidance from the Office of Ethics and Compliance. If you are offered the gift or entertainment “on the spot” without warning, you should politely decline it if it will not damage the relationship with the current or potential partner. If it would cause harm, you may accept the gift or entertainment, but the Office of Ethics and Compliance must be notified so that appropriate donation of the gift or entertainment may be made (or comparable value if it is a consumable).

Whom do I contact to seek an exemption from AD86?

To receive approval for an exemption, you must first have your supervisor’s written approval. Then you must receive written approval from the Office of Ethics and Compliance.

A vendor or company has asked that the University certify that a gift or entertainment they are offering does not violate Penn State’s gifts and entertainment policy. Who provides the University’s approval?

The University Ethics Officer is the designated official to certify these requests.

How long does it take to receive a required or requested approvals and/or exemption?

The University Ethics Officer is the designated official to approve requests. Depending upon the nature of the request and the information provided, it may take 1-5 days to review the necessary information for each request.

Whom do I contact if I have questions about the policy, particularly if a particular gift, entertainment, conference, trip or lodging could be affected?

If you have any questions about the policy, please contact the Office of Ethics and Compliance at 814-867-5088 or universityethics@psu.edu.


Last Updated June 29, 2015