Compliance and Ethical Behavior

TO:         Faculty, Staff, and Student Employees

FROM:    G.P. “Bud” Peterson, President
               Georgia Institute of Technology

RE:         Compliance and Ethical Behavior

On May 18, EVP for Administration and Finance Steve Swant shared a memo with Administration and Finance leadership titled “The Importance of Oversight, Compliance, and Ethical Behavior.” The messages contained in that memo are so important that I want to share them with all Georgia Tech employees.

At Georgia Tech, ethics is always a top priority. It is paramount that all employees realize their role in maintaining the public trust as we utilize federal, state, and philanthropic resources to fulfill our mission of education, research, public service, and economic development. The administrative officers, faculty, staff, student employees, and affiliated individuals with Georgia Tech are expected to abide by its policies and Code of Ethics, as well as all state, federal, and when applicable, international laws, in the performance of their job-related duties. The Georgia Tech Policy Library (http://policylibrary.gatech.edu) is designed to provide employees with ready access to all Institute and Board of Regents policies. Questions regarding specific policies can be directed to the policy owner or to this website.

It is critical that all Georgia Tech leaders model the highest ethical standards and provide the oversight needed to ensure that we maintain a culture of integrity and good stewardship. A leader who visibly demonstrates the highest ethical standards can help to reinforce a highly ethical culture within their circles of influence, and I strongly encourage all of our campus leaders to incorporate a regular focus on ethics in your team meetings. 

As we close out this fiscal year, we must be especially mindful of the following four areas:

  1. Oversight of discretionary expenditures for events, off-sites, and other non-mission-critical items. For any such expenditures, the expectation is that we will thoroughly review the funding amount and structure, purpose, and expected outcomes to assure compliance with all governing policies and practices; document the business rationale as an institutional investment of time and funds; and complete a reasonable review of the activity or expenditures to demonstrate whether the expenditures should go forward.
  2. Timekeeping. With the relatively new Fair Labor Standards Act practices and given the distributed nature of our work, it is more important than ever that all staff are complying with requirements for reporting time, reporting leave, and fully accounting for any personal and professional activities as required by policy. Flextime and telecommuting arrangements should be appropriately approved and documented.
  3. Gratuities and gift compliance. While these items can take many forms, ranging from a simple meal purchased to vendor-sponsored events, all employees are expected to fully comply with all regulations and expectations for vendor, or potential vendor, interactions. Specific guidance on acceptance of gifts by University System of Georgia employees is provided by Board of Regents policyhttps://www.usg.edu/policymanual/section8/C224/#p8.2.13_gratuities.
  4. Conflict of interest, extra compensation, and outside professional activities. It is essential that all policies and regulations be followed related to outside entities and professional activities external to Georgia Tech. Conflicts of interest must be identified, reviewed, approved, and appropriately managed per Institute policy. While staff do not have the faculty’s ability to consult as part of their roles at Georgia Tech, all employees should be aware of USG requirements for outside activities https://www.usg.edu/policymanual/section8/C224/#p8.2.15_outside_activities.

If you have questions related to any of these areas, please contact your HR business partner.

By keeping our ethical responsibilities and compliance rules, regulations, and responsibilities top of mind, maintaining accountability and modeling ethical behavior, we can ensure that Georgia Tech remains a place of integrity and responsible stewardship.

Thank you for your commitment as we pursue continued excellence in all we do.