Purchasing


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  • Ethics in Public Contracting

    Any attempt to realize personal gain through public employment by conduct inconsistent with the proper discharge of the employee's duties is a breach of a public trust. In order to fulfill this general prescribed standard, employees must also meet the specific standards set forth in Section 9.203 (Employee Conflict of Interest), Section 9.204 (Gratuities), Section 9.205 (Prohibition Against Contingent Fees), and Section 9.206 (Restrictions of Employment of Present Employees).

    Employee Conflict of Interest

    It shall be a breach of ethical standards for any employee to participate directly or indirectly in a procurement when the employee knows:

    • The employee or any member of the employee's immediate family has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement
    • A business or organization in which the employee, or any member of the employee's immediate family, has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement
    • Any other person, business, or organization with which the employee or any member of the employee's immediate family is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment is involved in the procurement
    • After discovering an actual or potential conflict of interest, an employee will promptly file a written statement of disqualification and withdraw from further participation in the transaction involved. The employee may, at the same time, apply to the Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion as to what further participation, if any, the employee may have in the transaction.

    Notice of this prohibition will be in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Ethics Commission.

    Section 9.203 (Employee Conflict of Interest) of the Mississippi Procurement Code covers instances in which a state employee involved in procurement is actively negotiating for employment with a contractor or prospective contractor. Such an employee must disqualify himself or herself from participation in a procurement involving such prohibition regarding any further participation in that procurement. Offers of employment under certain circumstances may also be gratuities which are prohibited by Section 9.204 (Gratuities) of the Mississippi Procurement Code.

    Gratuities

    It will be a breach of this regulation for any person to offer, give, or agree to give any employee or former employee, or for any employee or former employee to solicit, demand, accept, or agree to accept from another person, a gratuity or an offer of employment in connection with any decision, approval, disapproval, recommendation, preparation of any part of a program requirement or a purchase request influencing the content of any specification or procurement standard, rendering of advise, investigation, auditing, or in any other advisory capacity in any proceeding or application, request for ruling, determination, claim or controversy, or other particular matter, pertaining to any program requirement or proposal therefore.

    Gratuities Prohibition

    In addition, the gratuity or offer of employment must be made in relation to any proceeding or application, request for a ruling, determination, claim or controversy, or other particular matter, to constitute a breach, and in connection with any of the following: Decision, Approval, Disapproval, Recommendation, Preparation of any part of a program requirement of a purchase request, Action to influence the content of any specification or procurement standard, Rendering of advice, Investigation, Auditing, Other advisory capacity.

    Prohibition Against Contingent Fees

    It shall be a breach of ethical standards for a person to be retained, or to retain a person, to solicit or secure a state contract upon an agreement or understanding for a commission, percentage, brokerage, or contingent fee, except for retention of bona fide employees or bona fide established commercial selling agencies for the purpose of securing business.

    Influence Peddling

    The prohibition in Section 9.205 (Prohibition Against Contingent Fees) covers influence peddling and particularly that which might occur when a former state official is hired on a contingent basis by a business seeking state contracts.

    Improper Influence

    A business employee or a commercial selling business should be conclusively presumed not to be bona fide if the Ethics Commission determines that improper influence has been or is being used to secure a state contract.

    Restrictions on Employees

    Employment of Present Employees

    Except as may be permitted by regulations or rulings of the Ethics Commission, it shall be a breach of ethical standards for any employee who is participating directly or indirectly in the procurement process to become or be, while such an employee, the employee of any person contracting with the governmental body by whom the employee is employed. Notice of this provision shall be provided in accordance with opinions promulgated by the Ethics Commission.

    Purchasing Under Terms of a State Contract

    Section 25-4-105 of the Mississippi Code states, "No public servant shall use his official position to obtain pecuniary benefit for himself other than that compensation provided for by law, or to obtain pecuniary benefit for any relative or any business with which he is associated." This means that anyone purchasing a product is free to negotiate the best price possible with the seller but any attempt to tie the sale of a state contract based upon employment with a governmental entity could be considered to be a violation of the ethics law.

    Buying Surplus Property

    Section 25-4-105 (3) (b) states, "No public servant shall be a purchaser, direct or indirect, at any sale made by him in his official capacity or by the governmental entity of which he is an officer or employee, except in respect of the sale of goods and services when provided as public utilities or offered to the general public on a uniform price schedule.