Conflicts of Interest

General Prohibition

As public employees, all MSU employees are charged by MSU policies and by Mississippi law to avoid conflicts of interest. The potential for conflicts of interest is high in the context of procurement and contracts and outside employment, so particular diligence is required in those areas. These areas are not the exclusive areas; however, and if you have any questions about any activity involving you or your family members or related business, please seek guidance before engaging in the activity.

Policies and State Law

There may be other policies or statutes that prohibit certain conduct in order to avoid conflicts of interest.  The absence of any such policies or statutes from this website does not relieve any employee from his/her obligation to abide by such policies or statutes.

Tips for Avoiding Conflicts of Interest in Purchasing and Outside Employment

This information is provided as a tool for employees; however, any questions should be referred to the Office of Compliance and Integrity (325-5839), the Office of Procurement and Contracts (325-2550) or the Office of General Counsel (325-8131).

  1. Who is charged with avoiding conflicts of interest?

    All public employees – Miss. Code Ann. § 25-4-101 states that public employment is a public trust and that any effort to obtain personal gain is a violation of that trust that should be avoided.

  2. What activities are prohibited?

    A number of actions and activities are prohibited by Mississippi Code Annotated § 25-4-105. Of particular importance for purposes of MSU purchases – including soliciting and approving quotes, requesting contract approval and advertising and approving bids – and for requests to engage in outside employment, the following are precluded:

    1. An MSU employee serving as a contractor, subcontractor, or vendor of MSU except under very limited circumstances; or

    2. An MSU employee obtaining or attempting to obtain a pecuniary benefit (other than his salary) for himself, for relatives or for a business with which he is associated; or

    3. An MSU employee performing work (outside of is MSU employment) for a company or entity that contracts with MSU where such employee earns $5,000 or more per year from that outside company; or

    4. An MSU employee owning 10% or more of a company that performs work for MSU; or

    5. An MSU employee soliciting or approving a contract for services or other purchase where the company to provide the service or goods employs his or her spouse, or his or her parents, siblings or children (or the spouses of those persons); or

    6. An MSU employee soliciting or approving a contract for services or other purchase where the employee (or his relative) is engaged in discussions with that company regarding potential employment; or

    7. An MSU employee procuring goods or services from MSU at an auction or at a sale when those goods and services are not offered to the general public at a uniform price; or

    8. An MSU employee intentionally using or disclosing information gained through his/her position at MSU in a manner that could result in financial benefit to the employee, his relatives or any other person if such information is not public information; or

    9. An MSU employee receiving payment to attempt to influence an MSU decision.

  3. Critical Definitions

    1. Relative – The spouse, child, parent or sibling of the MSU employee, together with the spouse of any child, parent or sibling. (Miss. Code Ann. § 25-4-103(q)).

    2. Business with which you are associated – Any business of which the MSU employee or his relative (as defined above) is an officer, director, owner, partner, employee or is a holder of more than ten percent of the fair market value or from which the employee or his relative derives more than $2500 in annual income or over which the MSU employee or his relative exercises control. (Miss. Code Ann. § 25-4-103(d)).

    3. Income – Money or thing of value received, or to be received, from any source derived, including but not limited to, any salary, wage, advance, payment, dividend, interest, rent, forgiveness of debt, fee, royalty, commission, or any combination thereof. (Miss. Code Ann. § 25-4-103(i)).

    4. Material Financial Interest – A personal and pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, accruing to the MSU employee or his/her spouse, either individually or in combination with each other.

      According to Mississippi law, the following are not material financial interests:

      1. ownership of less than 10% of a business where the net annual income to the MSU employee and/or spouse is less than $1,000;

      2. ownership of less than 2% of a business where the net annual income to the MSU employee and/or spouse is less than $5,000;

      3. the income as an employee of a relative if neither the MSU employee or the relative is an officer, director, or partner in the business and any ownership interest would not be deemed material pursuant to subparagraph (1) and (2) above; and

      4. the income of the MSU employee’s spouse if the spouse is a contractor, subcontractor or vendor with MSU, and the MSU employee exercises no control, direct or indirect, over the contract between the spouse and MSU.

      Conversely, the following would be (absent extraordinary circumstances) material financial interests (for example only – not an exclusive list):

      1. an MSU employee who receives income of $5,000 or more from a company that serves as a contractor, vendor or subcontractor of MSU, regardless of any ownership interest in that company;

      2. an MSU employee who owns greater than 10 percent of any company that serves as a contractor, vendor or subcontractor of MSU; or

      3. an MSU employee’s spouse who works for a company that is a contractor, vendor or subcontractor of MSU and the MSU employee has any control (direct or indirect) over that contract.