Vendor Gift and Gratuities Policy
Updated January 2010
The purpose of these guidelines is to assist suppliers in understanding and following the procedures of the Aurora System Logistics Department. System Logistics consists of:
Employees of Aurora Health Care, including all its affiliates ("Aurora"), are responsible to conduct all Aurora business actions with honesty, integrity and fairness. The purpose of this policy is to set forth guidelines for employee behavior that will contribute to fair and effective interactions with Vendors seeking to sell their products or services to Aurora, to eliminate what might be perceived by patients and others served by Aurora as inappropriate Vendor influence, and to comply with all applicable laws and regulations that govern such interactions.
In addition, the ability of Aurora's purchasing staff to negotiate the best possible pricing for facilities in the Aurora system is dependent upon a process that is free of undue Vendor influence. Ensuring such a process enables Aurora to make purchasing decisions based upon what is best for our patients and other people we serve.
For the purposes of this policy, "Vendor" means a company, including any employee, agent, or representative of the company that currently supplies or has the potential to supply products or services to Aurora Health Care. This does not include Group Purchasing Organizations (GPO's), nor professional associations (for example, AHA, AMGA, AMA, etc.)
Aurora employees may not accept any gifts from a Vendor unless expressly permitted by this policy. Employees must avoid taking any action that could give the appearance or suggestion that Vendor relationships may be influenced by improper or illegal considerations. In addition, employees may not request gifts for their personal benefit. When in doubt about the appropriateness of accepting a gift from a Vendor, employees should check with their supervisor for review/approval.
- No gifts or promotional items (such as pens, notepads, mugs, etc.) may be accepted from a Vendor while on the premises of an Aurora facility.
- Gifts of nominal value may be accepted when offered and received outside of an Aurora facility as long as the sum of the gifts are valued at $100 or below, and are not in the
form of cash or cash equivalents (such as gift cards, gift certificates, stocks, bonds, etc.). These gifts of nominal value may not be brought to or kept in an Aurora facility.
Examples of permissible gift situations include, but are not limited to:
- An employee may accept promotional items from a Vendor at an external business meeting, such as a pen or coffee mug.
- An employee may accept nominal gifts at a Vendor's exhibit during a professional/educational conference.
- An employee may accept promotional items during a site visit for the purpose of evaluating a Vendor's products.
- Participating in Vendor-sponsored raffle events at external conferences is permissible, even if the value of the gift is greater than $100, as long as all conference attendees are allowed to participate.
- Gifts related to patient education, such as skeletal models, posters, etc., may be accepted because they are for the benefit of Aurora's patients.
- Vendors are prohibited from providing food on the premises of an Aurora facility unless doing so is part of an educational program that will benefit patient care. Each vendor may do so no more frequently than once per month.
B. Social Events and Business Courtesies
It is permissible, at times, to accept an occasional meal or other invitation offered by a current or potential business associate. As a general rule, the cost must be reasonable. If the total cost for the Aurora employee exceeds $300, approval by a senior vice president is required prior to accepting the invitation. To be acceptable, the occasion must meet the following guidelines:
- The cost and location must be reasonable and not extravagant;
- Paid expenses for any long distance travel costs or overnight lodging are paid by the individual, not by the Vendor;
- The invitation is for an ordinary business meal or gathering during which the host is present and business is conducted or is for a networking event at a conference;
- The meeting is necessary and for legitimate business purposes, and not for personal benefit; and
- The invitation does not include family members or guests, unless the invitation is related to a local charitable event.
C. Educational Support
- Subsidies to underwrite the cost of continuing education conferences or professional meetings at Aurora facilities contribute to the improvement of patient care and therefore are permissible. Subsidies may used for refreshments or speakers at educational sessions. The contributing Vendor(s) may be given recognition for their contribution.
- All Vendor-supported contributions for educational support, whether or not related to Continuing Medical Education ("CME"), must meet the following guidelines:
- All educational grant funds must be reported to the Aurora Grant Development Office. Educational grants $10,000 may only be applied for and managed by the Aurora Grant Development Office.
- The primary purpose of the education is the dissemination of objective scientific information or educational activity;
- Acceptance of educational support is not conditioned on or related in any way to current or future business relationships with the Vendor;
- The Vendor's support is of minimal individual value, but promotes the educational nature of the conference; and
- For events sponsored by Aurora, Aurora makes all decisions regarding the educational content of the event and an Aurora employee supervises the event.
- Employees may attend free off-site educational conferences sponsored by Vendors.
- It is permissible for an Aurora employee to participate in Vendor-paid off-site education and/or training that requires travel and/or overnight lodging only with prior written approval by a vice president.
D. Charitable Contributions
- Bona fide charitable contributions by Vendors to the Aurora Health Care Foundation are permissible as long as the Vendor does not condition the contribution on transacting or conducting business with Aurora. For example, a Vendor may make a charitable contribution to the Foundation in lieu of holiday baskets or other gifts that are made as an expression of good will. Other non-conditioned contributions throughout the year are also permissible.
- Soliciting charitable donations from Vendors is prohibited unless doing so under the auspices of an officially sponsored philanthropic process such as an Aurora-wide effort to solicit grants or charitable donations, as long as the solicitation to the Vendor is not conditioned upon transacting or conducting business with Aurora.
E. Site Visits, Seminars, Other Trips
Site visits, seminars, and other trips from Vendors are appropriate when:
- The Vendor-sponsored event has a business component associated with it. An example would be an event that provides either an exchange of peer information or an opportunity to build Vendor relationships that will benefit Aurora;
- Attendance is required as part of the performance of an individual's job duties. For example, a site visit as part of a formal capital equipment purchase or the selection of a supply item, which has the approval of the site administrator or purchasing director leading the procurement process, is permissible; or
- The event is shown to directly benefit Aurora and has been specifically and formally negotiated by the purchasing department as part of an equipment purchase.
F. Other Travel Expenses
- A Vendor may pay for reasonable travel expenses when the subsidized individual is:
- Presenting at a conference;
- Participating in a meeting for the purpose of reviewing a sponsored research protocol;
- Participating as a member of a governmental panel;
- Discussing, promoting, or showcasing Vendor products or services and this relationship/activity is explicitly defined in an existing contract;
- Participating in a site visit as described in D. above;
- Providing expert advice or product feedback to the Vendor at the Vendor's home site, and such advice or feedback is for the benefit of Aurora (for example, participation in a user group);
- Providing education to the Vendor regarding Aurora's processes, policies, contracting methodology at the Vendor's home site; or
- Participating as part of an approved "speakers bureau" engagement.
- In all cases, travel expense reimbursement by a Vendor is prohibited when:
- Reimbursement is extended to the employee's spouse or family member;
- The primary focus is social with minimal or no business activity; or
- The event location or travel arrangements are extravagant.
G. General Prohibitions
The following general activities are prohibited:
- Accepting any gifts, business courtesies, educational support, or other funds, regardless of value, from Vendors during the negotiation phase of any contract that requires a formal Request for Proposal (RFP.).
- Accepting any unsolicited rebates/kickbacks from Vendors after the purchase of a product or piece of equipment from that Vendor. These after-purchase kickbacks may be construed as having influence on Aurora's decision-making process and may affect Aurora's leverage to negotiate better pricing with a Vendor.
- Accepting services or supplies for free or at less than fair market value as an inducement to obtain contracts for any other services or supplies.