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City manager takes action on gift solicitation

City Manager Wayne Cauthen announced today a series of measures aimed at tightening City policies and practices regarding gifts, including the solicitation of gifts by City departments.

These actions come after the City's internal auditor conducted an investigation into the recent solicitation of gifts by the City's Convention and Entertainment Centers Department for door prizes for the department's holiday party. After learning of the solicitation, the City Manager's Office directed the return of the gifts and letters of apology were sent to all solicited firms. The city manager ordered an investigation by the internal auditor.

"It is important that our citizens and contractors are assured that City employees conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards in every aspect of their duties and responsibilities. We cannot tolerate any implication or perception of favoring or disfavoring any vendor or contractor based upon how that firm responded to a request for a gift or gratuity," Cauthen said.

Cauthen said the following actions are being taken to prevent future incidents from occurring:

    1. City ethics training will specifically address the issue of gifts; the solicitation of gifts/prizes by the City and its employees; what constitutes solicitation; and when, if ever, and under what circumstances such solicitation may be acceptable.

    2. Every two years, City employees will be required to certify that they have reviewed and understand the City's ethics policies and are aware of the ethics hotline and other means of reporting suspected violations of ethical conduct.

    3. Standard contract language will include a statement requesting vendors to report any suspected improper conduct by City employees or representatives to the internal auditor.

    4. Departments will be encouraged to review any issue or proposed action that could be perceived as a potential violation of ethical standards with the City's Committee on Administrative Service Ethics.

    5. Information in the City's Human Resources Policy Manual regarding the solicitation of gifts will be reviewed and clarified.

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