3.314 Human Resources
In the event of a conflict between the terms of this policy and any existing policy, this policy will take precedence. If a topic has also been addressed in other policy statements or manuals of MSU, the procedures and statements contained therein are hereby reaffirmed and made a part hereof for all purposes. For more information, see MSU Policy 3.325: Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outside Employment and Activities.
B. General Principles and Standards of Ethical Conduct
Each officer and employee of MSU is expected to obey all federal, state, and local laws and is subject to disciplinary action for a violation of those laws.
Principles of Ethical Conduct:
Standards of Ethical Conduct:
[NOTE: Replaces MSU Policy 3.346 (Standards of Conduct for State Employees); see Texas Government Code §572.051(a)]
C. Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest is a significant outside interest of a MSU employee or one of the employee’s immediate family members that could directly or significantly affect the employee’s performance of their University responsibilities. The proper discharge of an employee’s university responsibilities could be directly or significantly affected if the employment, service, activity or interest: (a) might tend to influence the way the employee performs his or her University responsibilities, or the employee knows or should know the interest is or has been offered with the intent to influence the employee’s conduct or decisions; (b) could reasonably be expected to impair the employee’s judgment in performing his or her University responsibilities; or (c) might require or induce the employee to disclose confidential or proprietary information acquired through the performance of University responsibilities.
Conflicts of interest are prohibited. University employees may not have a direct or indirect interest, including financial and other interests, or engage in a business transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the employee’s duties for the University. MSU employees must comply with applicable disclosure, approval, and management plan requirements in MSU Policy 3.325: Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Employment and Outside Activities.
1. Ethics Commission Financial Disclosure Statements
2. Disclosure of Interest for Non-CEO's
All MSU employees who are authorized to execute contracts on behalf of MSU, who exercise discretion with regard to the management of MSU, or who exercise discretion with regard to the investment or management of MSU funds shall file annually with the President a report disclosing the following information regarding themselves, their spouses, and their dependent children (if the reporting individual had actual control over that activity at any time during the preceding calendar year.):
3. Disclosure of Interest in Property to be Acquired
As state officers, members of the Board of Regents and the President is are required by Tex. Gov’t Code §553.002 to disclose any legal or equitable interest in property that is to be acquired with public funds. Such disclosure shall be made by filing an affidavit containing specific information as required by statute. The affidavit must be filed with the county clerk of the county in which the individual resides and the county clerk of each county in which the property is located. Such filing must be completed within ten (10) days before the date on which the property is to be acquired by purchase or condemnation. "Public funds" includes only funds collected by or through a government.
c. An MSU employee or official has a financial interest in a person if the employee or official:
d. A financial interest prohibited by this section does not include a retirement plan, a blind trust, insurance coverage, or an ownership interest of less than one percent in a corporation.
[See Texas Government Code §2261.252]
[See Texas Education Code §51.9337(c)(6)]
Detailed MSU policies regarding travel regulations may be found in sections 2-15 through 2-18 of the MSU Handbook of Fiscal Regulations and Procedures, or by contacting the MSU Business Office.
1. Transportation, Meals, and Lodging
a. MSU employees are entitled to receive the following when traveling to conduct official state business:
2. Improper Travel Reimbursement
When an MSU employee engages in travel for which compensation is to be received from any source other than MSU funds, the employee shall not submit a claim under the provisions of the MSU travel regulations. An MSU employee who receives an overpayment for a travel expense shall reimburse MSU for the overpayment.
3. "Official Business" for Purpose of Travel
To qualify for travel reimbursements and use of MSU vehicles, the purpose of a trip must be "state business" or "official business" of MSU. State or official business is the accomplishment of a governmental function directly entrusted to MSU, including the reasonably necessary means and methods to accomplish that function.
4. Per Diem for Employees Travel Under Contracts and Grants
Employees traveling under contracts and grants (federal, state, private) shall be reimbursed for travel expenses and allowances on the same basis as other MSU employees, except in those instance where the terms of the contract or grant specify travel guidelines and reimbursement rates which differ from State of Texas reimbursement rates.
5. Travel Bonus (Frequent Flyer) Awards
MSU employees who earn credit with airlines, hotels, car rental companies, etc., for official travel are not required to account for such credit or to use such for official travel only.
6. State Credit Cards
MSU employees may not use state credit cards for personal expenses. State credit cards may only be used for legitimate MSU travel business expenses. Payment of charges on individual cards is the sole responsibility of the individual employee. MSU shall not be responsible for the charges, regardless of the types of charges. Employees may use state credit cards to charge for items that, while they qualify as official business, are not fully reimbursable under state and/or MSU guidelines for reimbursement.
7. Official Travel by Spouses and Relatives of Employees
Spouses and other relatives of employees may qualify to have travel expenses paid by MSU if their presence at a function or on a trip is for an official purpose benefitting MSU and/or the State of Texas. All such travel must be approved in advance by the President. In making a determination of whether the presence of a spouse or relative is for an official purpose, the factors to be considered are the nature and duties of the employee's office, the traditional role, if any of the employee's spouse or relative, the purpose of the particular trip, and the spouse or relative's connection with that purpose. Request for reimbursement of expenses or for direct departmental payment of travel expenses for such persons must be approved in writing by the President.
8. Foreign Travel
Requests for any travel related to official state business outside of the United States for which travel expenses are to be advanced or reimbursed must be approved in writing (may be electronically) by the President or her/his designee (divisional cabinet officer where applicable) in advance of the travel. This requirement does not apply to travel to Canada, Mexico or any state or possession of the United States. [See Texas Government Code §660.024]
E. Benefits, Gifts, and Honoraria
A "benefit" is anything reasonably regarded as pecuniary gain or pecuniary advantage, including benefit to any other person in whose welfare an employee has a direct and substantial interest.
No MSU employee may solicit, offer, or accept any benefit in exchange for his or her decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercises of official power or discretion. A benefit that is otherwise allowed by MSU policy is nevertheless prohibited if it is offered in exchange for official action, as described above.
2. Prohibited Benefits
An MSU employee who exercises discretion in connection with contracts, purchases, payments, claims and other pecuniary transactions or government may not solicit, accept or agree to accept any benefit from any person the employee knows is interested in or is likely to become interested in any contract, purchase, payment, claim, or transaction involving the employee's discretion. This prohibition does not apply to:
3. Food, Lodging, Transportation, and Entertainment Received as a Guest
An MSU employee may accept food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment from persons or entities he or she knows or reasonably should know are interested in or likely to become interested in a contract, purchase, payment, claim, decision, or transaction involving the exercise of the employee's discretion only if the employee is a "guest" as defined by Texas law. An employee is a "guest" if the person or a representative of the entity providing the food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment is present at the time the food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment is received or enjoyed by the employee. All such travel by employees of MSU must be approved in advance by the President. The President is required to report any such benefits valued at over $250 on the annual disclosure statement filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.
4. Gift Items
An MSU employee shall disclose to his or her respective Vice President (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs) any gift received in the course of official business having a value of more than $50. The President shall make such disclosures to the Board of Regents.
5. From Friends, Relatives, and Associates
An MSU employee may accept benefits from personal friends, relatives, or business associates with whom he or she has a relationship independent of his or her official status, so long as the benefit is not offered in exchange for official action or
An MSU employee may accept plaques and similar recognition awards, including achievement and recognition awards from MSU.
An MSU employee may not solicit, accept, or agree to accept an honorarium in consideration for services he or she would not have been asked to provide but for his or her official position or duties. This prohibition includes a request for or acceptance of a payment made to a third party if made in exchange for such services. However, he or she may accept the direct provision of or reimbursement for expenses for transportation and lodging incurred in connection with a speaking engagement at a conference or similar event. Meals provided as part of the event or reimbursement for actual expenses for meals may also be accepted. Participation by the employee must be more than merely perfunctory.
If an MSU employee provides tickets to a public official to allow the official and/or his guests to attend an event, an officer or employee of MSU will serve as host to the official, and must attend the event.
2. Perishable Food Items
An MSU employee may provide public officials with small, infrequent gifts of perishable food items delivered to the offices of the public officials. These are not considered to be "benefits" for purposes of the provision of the Penal Code prohibiting such.
3. Expenses for Public Officials
MSU may pay expenses in order to furnish information to state officials relevant to their official positions, including presentations about the programs and services of MSU.
4. Use of Official Authority Prohibited
No MSU employee may use his or her official authority or influence, or permit the use of a program administered by MSU, to interfere with or affect the result of an election or nomination of a candidate or to achieve any other political purpose. No MSU employee may do any act or attempt to interfere with anyone who seeks to pay, lend, or contribute private funds or private property to a person or political organization for political purposes. Any MSU employee who violates either of these provisions is subject to immediate termination of employment, in accordance with the Texas Government Code.
5. Use of MSU Funds or Property
No MSU employee shall expend or authorize the expenditure of any MSU funds, services or supplies for the purpose of influencing the outcome of any election, or the passage or defeat of any legislative measure. No MSU funds may be expended for the payment of full or partial salary of any employee who is also the paid lobbyist of any individual, firm, association, or corporation.
6. Voting and Political Participation
As employees of the State of Texas, MSU employees have the rights of freedom of association and political participation guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions, except as limited by valid state laws. MSU employees shall be allowed sufficient time off to vote in public elections with deduction from pay or from accrued leave time.
7. Employees as Candidates and Officeholders
MSU employees may run for election and serve as members of the governing bodies of school districts, cities, towns, or other local governmental districts. No campaign activities may be conducted during official business hours unless the employee has requested and received permission to use leave time for such purpose. Any employee elected to such a position my not receive any salary for serving as a member of such governing bodies. It is the policy of MSU that an employee who intends to be a candidate for any public office, other than a local office for which no emolument of any kind is received, must resign unconditionally from employment with MSU prior to announcing his or her candidacy.
8. Political Contributions from Employees
MSU employees may make personal contributions to candidates for office and political organizations with the exception that no state employee may contribute personal services, money, or goods of value to a candidate campaigning for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.
G. Dual Office Holding
1. Non-elective State or Federal Office
An MSU employee may hold non-elective offices with boards, commissions, and other state and federal entities provided that the holding of such office:
Such appointments must be approved by the President. Prior to the President, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or Vice Presidents accepting an invitation to serve in an additional non-elective office, the Board of Regents must determine that the appointment meets the two requirements stated above. The Board must also make an official record of any compensation to be received by the President, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or Vice Presidents from such appointment, including salary, bonus, per diem or other types of compensation.
2. Positions of Employment with Government Agencies
MSU officers may hold other positions of employment with agencies, boards, commissions, or other entities of government so long as the holding of such positions is consistent with the prohibitions against dual office holding in the Texas Constitution. Consulting arrangements with federal, state, or local governmental agencies of a detached and independent advisory nature are not considered to be appointments of such agencies.
H. MSU Property and Services
1. Misuse of Authority
2. Misuse of Official Information
It is a violation of state law if an MSU employee in reliance on information to which he or she has access in his or her official capacity and which has not been made public:
From time to time MSU employees may need to make personal telephone calls during working hours. Normally, such use does not result in additional costs or damage to MSU and generally will not hinder the day-to-day operation of any office. Incidental use of MSU telephones during working hours by an MSU employee for local calls is not considered to be misapplication of state property, and is permissible so long as it does not unduly interfere with the employee's assigned responsibilities or the normal functioning of an office. Use of the telephone is considered to be misapplication of state equipment if it results in additional costs being incurred by MSU, including long distance charges, or damage to the equipment.
4. Personal Computers
University-owned computers and electronic mail services may be used for incidental personal purposes provided that the use does not:
Use of university computers or electronic mail services to download, post or transport material that is illegal or in violation of university contracts is considered a violation of the university's Principles of Ethical Conduct.
5. Other MSU Equipment
No MSU employee shall entrust state property to any state official or employee or to anyone else to be used for other than state purposes. An MSU employee shall not use MSU equipment or property for his or her own benefit or pleasure.
6. MSU Vehicles
No MSU employee shall use any vehicle owned by MSU for any purpose other than official business of MSU. Employees may not use such vehicles in connection with any political campaign or for any personal or recreational activity. The President may assign vehicles for permanent use or twenty-four hour use when determined to be critical to the operations of MSU (examples: police and maintenance).
1. Supplementary Pay and Perquisites:
*Person is defined by §311.005 of the Texas Government Code to include a corporation, organization, government, or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, and any other legal entity.
2. Outside Employment and Activities
MSU employees are expected to devote their time and talents to their assigned duties and responsibilities. University officials recognize the common practice of faculty and staff holding more than one employment or position due to needs, interests, or development. Employment and/or participation in activities outside the University is both permitted and encouraged as long as it does not interfere with the employee’s University duties and responsibilities or create a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment. Conflicts of interest must be avoided in all instances of outside employment. For more information, see subsection C6 of this policy and MSU Policy 3.325: Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Employment and Outside Activities.
Refer to the MSUPolicy # 3.323to review MSU policies concerning employee nepotism.
4. Sexual Harassment
All MSU employees are expected to comply with the provisions of the MSU Policy #4.161relating to sexual harassment. The employment and education environment throughout MSU shall be free from all forms of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. Conduct constituting sexual harassment is specifically prohibited and will result in appropriate sanctions.
5. Confidential Information
All MSU employees shall not disclose confidential information gained through employment with MSU or use such information for his or her personal benefit. Refer to MSU Policy #4.149 to review the MSU policy concerning Open Records and Public Disclosure of Information.
J. Sanctions for Noncompliance with Ethics Policy