Procurement Communication Policy

The Illinois Procurement Code (30 ILCS 500/1-1 et seq.) requires procurement communications be reported to the Illinois Procurement Policy Board.  The statute states, in general, "any written or oral communication received by a State employee who, by the nature of his or her duties, has the authority to participate personally or substantially in the decision to award a State contract and that imparts or requests material information or makes a material argument regarding potential action concerning a procurement matter, including, but not limited to, an application, a contract, or a project, shall be reported to the Procurement Policy Board, and, with respect to the Illinois Power Agency, by the initiator of the communication, and may be reported also by the recipient." 30 ILCS 500/50-39(a).

The Southern Illinois University Ethics Office will try to help guide you through questions you may have regarding such communications and reporting. However, each employee is responsible for making the ultimate determination as to whether a particular communication should be reported. Conversely, employees are permitted to make a good faith determination and may wish to review the FAQs provided below.  Each scenario or question will undoubtedly involve various and unique facts and circumstances for you to consider. If you feel that the communication should be reported, you are obligated to do so.

It is important to note that the guidance given by the Ethics Office or campus representatives does not constitute legal advice.

You can find further information, including frequently asked questions, at the Procurement Policy Board's website and by referencing the relevant statute.

On February 17, 2011, the Executive Ethics Commission (EEC) repealed the emergency rules adopted on January 7, 2011. The EEC rules were intended to interpret and implement the Procurement Communications Reporting Requirement.

As a result of the EEC's repeal of its rules, the Office of the Governor developed and distributed on February 22, 2011 new guidance for Agencies under its jurisdiction, as a temporary measure in response to the repeal by the EEC. Effective December 2016, the guidance issued by the Office of the Governor in February 2011 has been updated to reflect changes in the law, policy, and practice of implementing this section of the Procurement Code.

Please carefully read the attached document Guidance Regarding Procurement Communications Reporting Requirement 30 ILCS 500/50-39 as it will supersede all other interpretations of the Procurement Communication Reporting statute 30 ILCS/50-39.

1. Who is required to report?

Under the statute, all employees who communicate with vendors (verbally or in writing) may be required to report their communication. This may include p-card holders, fiscal officers and delegates, principal investigators, deans, directors, business managers, support staff, and members of a procurement selection committee.  University employees who have no participation/influence on procurement decisions are not required to report communications under the Procurement Code.

Please note, University employees who are issued the authority to make procurement decisions may not delegate procurement decisions to individuals that are not recognized as having procurement authority.  In accordance with University policy, improper delegation of authority can lead to removal of procurement authority.

All employees involved in the procurement of goods and services will be required to take training on the PPB website.  An employee training module/tutorial [pdf] is available.  

2. What communication should be reported?

The intent of the law is to increase transparency and stop inappropriate interference from vendors, lobbyists, and others into University purchasing decisions.

The law requires you to report all material communications with vendors that attempt to influence your purchasing decisions.  A material communication is defined as “any written or oral communication received by a State employee that imparts or requests material information or makes a material argument that a reasonable person would believe was made for the purpose of influencing procurement decisions, including but not limited to:

  • establishing or defining a procurement need or method of source selection;
  • drafting, reviewing, or preparing specifications, plans or requirements;
  • drafting, reviewing, or preparing any invitations for bid, requests for proposals RFP, requests for information, sole source procurement justifications, emergency procurement justifications, or selection information;
  • evaluating bids, responses, and offers;
  • publishing notices to the procurement file or the contract file;
  • letting or awarding a contract;
  • determining the contents of the procurement file or the contract file;
  • resolving protests;
  • determining inclusion on prequalification lists;
  • identifying potential conflicts of interest;
  • determining vendor performance evaluations;
  • approving change orders or renewal or extension of an existing contract;

3. Examples of the procurement communications that require reporting.

Example #1: I am a medical doctor and am having a discussion with a medical equipment vendor regarding the best equipment option for a particular medical procedure. Am I required to report this communication via the Procurement Communications Reporting System?

Yes, this communication may develop into to a “sales pitch,” and steer the purchaser towards a certain product and if it does, it is probably material and should be reported.  If, however, the communication is limited to facts such as the features and price of the equipment, it might not be material and need not be reported.

Example #2:  A committee of 10 housing staff has been formed to review furniture for a new residence hall. This committee is responsible for meeting with vendors while the vendors showcase their product and answer committee members' questions. Ultimately, a furniture purchase will be made based on results of the bid responses. Am I responsible for reporting each of these meetings within the Procurement Communications Reporting System?

Yes, unless the communications with the vendors are made publicly in a public forum.  Otherwise, each university employee who “receives” this communication must report it separately.

Example #3:  Do most change orders, including those with negative dollar values (overall contract price decrease) or changes to scope that may contain increases or decreases in price, have to be submitted to the Procurement Policy Board's Web site?

Yes, Section 50-39(a) of the Procurement Code specifically mentions change orders, so they need to be reported so long as the vendor or another person is attempting to influence the decision to make the change order, i.e., it is a “material” communication.  Please note, the EEC insists that change orders are effectively new procurements, so you can’t avoid the procurement code law by calling something a change order.

Example #4:  A committee is evaluating a RFP for a Bookstore provider and we want to invite 2 to 3 vendors to campus for presentations.   Do I have to report my communication with each vendor to invite them to campus? Will each committee member who sits in on the presentation be required to file a report for each vendor separately?   

It appears that the communication to invite the vendors to campus is not an attempt to influence a procurement decision, so no reporting is required.  However, the communication with the vendors during the presentations would be material and an attempt to influence a purchasing decision; therefore, it should be reported unless it was held in a public forum.

4. What types of communications are excluded?

  • Communications with vendors in a public forum or during a meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act
  • Communications about procedural matters (due dates, how many copies are required, etc.)
  • Communications made between employees
  • Unsolicited communications with vendors providing general information about products or services.
  • Communications received in response to the procurement process provided that the communications are made in accordance with the instructions contained in the procurement solicitation, procedures, or guidelines.
  • Statements made to the employees of the Executive Ethics Commission (but, pursuant to the statute, not statements received from the EEC if material and not otherwise exempt).
  • Communications which are privileged, protected or confidential under law including, but not limited to, the attorney-client privilege.
  • Communications that are part of a formal procurement process.
  • Communications with an existing vendor about rendering services or goods for a current contract.  Note any change order or contract extension discussions require reporting.
  • Communications regarding matters exempt from the Illinois Procurement Code in section 30 ILCS 500/1-10 are not reportable;
    1. Contracts between State governmental bodies
    2. Grants
    3. Purchase of care
    4. Hiring of an individual as an employee and not as an independent contractor, whether pursuant to an employment code or policy or by contract directly with that individual
    5. Collective bargaining contracts
    6. Purchase of real estate
    7. Contracts necessary to prepare for anticipated litigation, enforcement actions, or investigations
    8. Procurement expenditures by the Illinois Conservation Foundation when only private funds are used
    9. Procurement expenditures by the Illinois Health Information Exchange Fund

5. Examples of the procurement communications not required to be reported:

Example #1: If I use my p-card to make a purchase do I need to report the purchase?

In the vast majority of cases reporting would not be required.  Only if there is a communication from the vendor that requests a change in how the University conducts business or suggests or proposes changes in a purchasing decision.

Example #2:  As a faculty member and grant applicant, I am required to develop a preliminary budget for grant applications. My project will require the acquisition of equipment. To develop a reasonable budget, I need to contact potential vendors for an informal/non-binding estimate. Am I required to report each of these communications via the Procurement Communications Reporting System, realizing that I may not be awarded the grant or have the opportunity to procure the equipment in future years?

No.  If the faculty member is simply seeking quotes, it would not appear that the communication was made for the purpose of influencing a procurement decision. Instead, the vendor is communicating facts about a current price.

Example #3:  If I attend a vendor expo or similar event whereby multiple vendors are on-site showcasing their products, do I need to report the discussions I have at the event?

Discussions that are more general in nature where you are simply learning basic facts about companies and their offerings would not need to be reported under the public forum exemption.  Also, the routine collection of literature or promotional items does not need to be reported as well. However, any discussions that go into greater detail regarding a current or future need, extending beyond the basic information-gathering, could be considered material in regard to procurement decisions and would therefore need to be reported.

Example #4:  My department is purchasing commodities through an existing IPHEC contract. Are procurement communications related to an IPHEC contract required to be reported?

No. Contracts exist for commodities available through an IPHEC agreement; hence, no reporting is required. Per the Procurement Policy Board, communications related to purchases under an existing contract do not require reporting unless the communication is related to the execution of a change order.

Example #5:  If I call three vendors for prices on an item or service and place an order with the vendor offering the lowest price, do I need to report any of the calls?

Normally no; but, if a vendor tries to influence the University’s buying habits in addition to or rather than offering a price, the communication should be reported.

Example #6:  If I have contact with a potential sub-grant contractor to obtain information on a grant request, do I need to report the communication?  Do I need to report contract communications with a sub grant agency?

No, since grants to the University or issued by the University are exempted from the procurement code.

Example #7:  If I contact multiple vendors for information that I intend to use for creating bid specifications, do I need to report each of the vendor communications?

Not necessarily.  If the communication is simply about prices, parts numbers, availability, dates of delivery, etc., the communication would not be material and need not be reported.

Example #8:  If I contact a vendor and ask for a price to repair office furniture and then place an order, do I need to report the communication?

No, only if the vendor tried to change your buying decision.  An example would be if a vendor told you that you needed to replace rather than repair the furniture.

Example #9:  I contacted a vendor asked for a price to repair a piece of equipment, issued a requisition, and found additional repairs were needed after the vendor started the project.  Do I report the change order if I found the additional needed repair?

No, unless the vendor is attempting to change your purchasing decision.  Furthermore, in this change order example, the communication is not material, so it need not be reported.

6. How do I file a report?

SIU has no control over the PPB reporting system. Please contact the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) at 312-814-3648 or 217-524-3648 for issues related to accessing or use of the system.

7. What needs to be reported?

  • When:  date and time of the communication along with the duration
  • Where: location of people involved, or phone numbers for callers
  • Who: the identity of each person involved (name & job title)
  • What was communicated:  Detailed summary of the discussion, request, and response

The on-line reporting tool will allow you to enter your information and to submit your report directly to the PPB.

8. What happens to my communication report after it has been filed?

All reported procurement communications are reviewed electronically, submitted and then made available to the general public on the PPB website.

9. Is there a deadline or timeframe for filing a report?

Reports should be submitted upon receipt of a communication; but no more than 30 days after receipt of the communication.

10.  Are there penalties for not reporting a procurement communication?

Guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Also, State employees who knowingly and intentionally fail to comply with the reporting requirements may be subject to suspension or discharge. 30 ILCS 500/50-39(e).

11.  If I need some guidance who can I contact?