Ethics Policy

Purpose & Scope of the Policy

The County of Bucks is committed to maintaining high standards for performance based on fair, ethical, and professional business practices. This policy describes the conduct and ethics required of all County employees who participate in the purchasing process, and addresses issues including authorization for purchases, unauthorized purchases, employee-vendor relationships, conflict of interest, personal purchases, acceptances of gratuities by employees, and relationships with vendors.

Bucks County also requires ethical conduct from those who do business with the county. Contracts will contain a clause stating that any effort to influence an employee to violate the standards of the Code is grounds to void the contract. Vendors to the government are required to certify that they will not attempt to influence any employee to violate the Code.


The following definitions are included for clarity in this policy:

  • Unauthorized Purchases: a purchase for which (1) the individual has not been delegated the authority to make a purchase against the specified fund; (2) the individual has not been delegated the authority to make a purchase of a particular item; (3) the item to be purchased cannot be purchased against the specified fund; (4) there are insufficient funds to cover the expenditure; or (5) the proper purchasing procedures have not been followed.
  • Near Relative: spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, or in-laws and step-relatives in the same relationship

Applicability & Authority

This policy on Purchasing Conduct and Ethics applies to all county purchasing activities.

It is a new policy and thus supersedes any county practices in existence prior to its effective date. It will be incorporated into the next revision of the Purchasing Department Policy and Procedures manual.

Detailed Policy Statement

Violation of Policy

Employees who violate this policy may be subject to disciplinary actions as per applicable union contract.


The Purchasing Director is delegated the responsibility of procuring all material, supplies, equipment and services for the using agencies of County Government by the County Commissioners. Excluded from this authority are contracts for construction, renovation of County property or such transactions that the County Commissioners may wish to perform themselves or consent to have someone other than the Purchasing Director handle. Purchasing authority can be delegated by the Purchasing Director to authorized individuals under specific circumstances, such as blanket orders, assigned Purchase Orders and Purchase Card transactions.

Purchases may only be made by employees who have received authorization from the County Commissioners or the Purchasing Director.

Employee-Vendor Relationship

Purchases, lease of goods, or contracts for services shall not be made from any employee or near relative who has an employee-vendor relationship unless there has been a specific determination by the Purchasing Director that the goods or services are not available either from commercial sources or from the County's own facilities.

Conflict Of Interest

No employee of the County shall make, participate in, or attempt to influence any decision if the employee knows or has reason to know that he/she has a financial interest in the outcome of that decision.

Personal Purchases

County employees shall not use County credit, purchasing power, or facilities to make purchases of goods or services for themselves or for non-county activities.


County employees shall refrain from accepting gifts, entertainment, favors or services from present or potential suppliers to the County that might influence, or appear to influence, purchasing decisions. Employees may accept trivial items as a matter of courtesy, but may not solicit them.

Vendor Relationships

In carrying out their purchasing responsibilities, County personnel shall:

  • Avoid restrictive specifications
  • Avoid the intent and appearance of unethical or compromising practices
  • Conduct business with potential and current suppliers openly, fairly, equitably, and in an atmosphere of good faith
  • Encourage competition through open, equitable and fair practices
  • Know and observe fair, ethical, and legal trade practices and remain alert to the legal ramifications of purchasing decisions
  • Promote positive supplier relationships through courtesy and impartiality in all phases of the purchasing cycle