You’re under no obligation to meet with someone who wants to make a pitch for City business. If you don’t want to meet, here’s a letter you might use that politely declines the meeting but encourages doing business with the City.
***Solicitation Response Template***
If, however, this is a product or service that you think might benefit the City and its citizens, there’s no reason not to learn more -- but you must do so in a way that ensures that the City will get maximum value for tax dollars and that doesn’t either unfairly advantage or disadvantage a prospective vendor. Your actions must also, of course, comply with applicable procurement and ethics rules.
First, suggest that the prospective vendor send you information about the product or service. If you want more information, it’s fine to meet with the prospective vendor in your office to get it. You may not accept a meal or an invitation to an event from a prospective vendor to discuss doing business with the City.
Then, if you think that the proposed product or service would benefit the City, you may not simply procure it from the prospective vendor. Instead, you must follow procurement rules, which require your department to – except in very limited circumstances – solicit bids or proposals for the product or service. The prospective vendor who approached you about the product or service will then have an opportunity to respond to the solicitation, along with any other interested prospective applicants.
IntegrityWorks offers guidance for commonly-occurring situations. These are not the only situations in which ethics rules would apply; they are simply the most common ones. Other guidance may be added to this site as situations warrant.
These guidelines are general guidelines. Because each situation presents its own set of facts, this general guidance isn’t advice on which you can legally rely. If you want to be absolutely sure that your conduct complies with applicable ethics laws, you should seek advice before taking action.