Bulletins

Notice To All CUNY Employees Of Their Obligations

May 11, 2007 | Advisory Memoranda

A copy of the State Ethics Law and Regulations are available upon
request from the college’s ethics officer (labor designee) or the
State Ethics Commission (1-800-87 ETHICS), or online at
www.dos.state.ny.us/ethc/ethics.html. Ask for a copy of the blue
ethics booklet.

HONORARIA AND TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENTS

I. Annual Reports.

Annual reports of honoraria (all references to honoraria herein
include travel reimbursements) for the April 1st to March 31st year
(form attached) must be filed with the college president, or
designee, who in turn must file a compilation with the State Ethics
Commission by June 1st. Only those employees who actually receive
honoraria must file the reports. The regulations on honoraria and
travel reimbursements (See Sec. 930) apply to all college
employees. Honoraria forms completed by college employees should
be filed with the college’s ethics officer (labor designee) no
later than May 15, and then reviewed by the college president and
filed directly with the State Ethics Commission by the college.

II. Prohibited Honoraria.

The Regulations of the State Ethics Commission prohibit the receipt
of honoraria (including travel reimbursements) from individuals,
companies, organizations, unions, vendors and contractors which
negotiate with (e.g. unions), do business with, or are interested
in doing business with the University (or a college). The
regulations, for example, prohibit vendor paid travel to view
demonstrations of a vendor’s products or services. These
prohibitions also apply to college employees serving as board
members and officers of related entities (e.g. auxiliary enterprise
board, college association, foundation, etc.) as part of their
official duties or within the scope of their employment with the
college. Employee travel reimbursements for such purposes,
however, may be made by the University when appropriate.
Instructional staff employees (i.e., faculty) with appointments in
academic departments, however, are exempt within their discipline
from the regulations on honoraria.

III. Prior Approvals.

An employee may also seek prior approval for the receipt of an
honorarium (including travel reimbursements) from the college
president. If the request for prior approval is approved, the
request and approval must then also be forwarded to the State
Ethics Commission. If an employee has doubts about the propriety
of accepting an honorarium, the employee should consult with the
college’s ethics officer and then consider whether to file a
request for prior approval or not accept the honorarium.

PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES

All college employees are covered by the statutory prohibitions in
the State Ethics Law. Particular attention should be paid to the
prohibitions in the following sections of the State Ethics Law
(Public Officers Law).

(a) Section 73(3)(b). Prohibition on the practice of law before
the State Court of Claims.

(b) Section 73(4)(a). Prohibition on doing business with a
State agency in excess of twenty five dollars ($25), except through
a contract awarded after public notice and competitive bidding.

(c) Section 73(5). Prohibitions on acceptance of gifts in excess
of seventy five dollars ($75), as discussed below. New Executive
Order # 1 prohibits the acceptance of any gift more than nominal
value.

(d) Section 73(7)(a). Prohibitions on appearances before State
agencies.

(e) Section 73(8). Revolving Door Provision. Prohibition on
appearing, practicing or receiving compensation for any such
services before the employee’s former State agency (CUNY) for two
years after termination of employment; and lifetime prohibition on
appearing or practicing before any State agency or receiving
compensation for any such services with respect to any matter which
the employee was personally involved with during his or her
employment with the State agency (CUNY).

PROHIBITED GIFTS

The Public Officer’s law prohibits solicitation, or acceptance by,
employees of any gift valued at $75 or more under circumstances in
which it could be inferred that the gift was intended to influence
or reward the recipient for performing official duties.

A gift is anything of value given to an employee including money,
services, loans, travel, meals, refreshments, entertainment,
hospitality, or discounts. The value of a gift is determined by
its retail cost of purchase. If a ticket is involved, the gift is
the face value of the ticket even if a portion of the ticket price
is donated to charity or you could otherwise get it at a discounted
price. Where there are multiple gifts, including meals, the
aggregate value of the individual gifts within a twelve month
period will be considered to determine whether they total $75.

Employees are prohibited from accepting gifts over $75 from
individuals, companies, organizations, unions, vendors and
contractors that negotiate with, do business with, or are
interested in doing business with the University or any of its
colleges. These prohibitions also apply to college employees
serving as board members and officers of related entities (e.g.
auxiliary enterprise board, college association, foundation, etc.)
as part of their official duties or within the scope of their
employment with the college. Limited exceptions are provided for
gifts received when it is clear that they derive from a personal or
family relationship (i.e., the donor cannot charge or deduct the
item as a business expense) and meals received by all participants
in a group at an educational or professional function when related
to the employee’s responsibilities, but not travel and lodging.
When a gift may not be given to an employee, the donor may not
offer the gift to the employee’s family or to an individual the
employee designates.

Executive Order No. 1
Establishment of Ethical Conduct Guidelines

Application: This executive order applies to all officers and
employees of all state agencies, departments, boards, commissions
and other instrumentalities of the state, which include CUNY, who
serve at the pleasure of the Governor or their appointing
authority, which in the case of CUNY is the Board of Trustees.
This creates an anomaly in that not all of CUNY’s officers and
employees serve at the pleasure of the Board. In order to ensure
that all of CUNY’s officers and employees will be subject to the
same ethical standards, the Chancellor will recommend to the Board
at its February meeting the adaptation of a policy applicable to
all officers and employees that contains the same provisions as the
executive order. This executive order also applies to members of
all public authorities who are appointed by the Governor. Since
CUNY is not a public authority, it does not apply to its Trustees.
Accordingly, the Chancellor will also recommend to the Board at its
February meeting the adaptation of an amendment to the Code of
Conduct applicable to the Trustees that contains the same
provisions as the executive order.

Prohibition Against the Receipt of Gifts: Individuals covered by
this executive order are prohibited from accepting gifts of more
than nominal value where the circumstances would permit the
inference that (a) the gift was intended to influence the
individual in the performance of official business; or (b) the gift
constituted a tip, reward or sign of appreciation for any official
act by the individual. This prohibition applies notwithstanding
the provision of the Public Officers Law § 73(5), which permits
gifts of up to $75 in value under certain circumstances.