Carnegie Mellon University

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Carnegie Mellon University expects all members of the university community to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards in all domains. The university’s Code of Business Ethics and Conduct (the “Code”) reflects the university’s well-established policies and principles governing the behavior of all members of the university community when working for the university, and is intended to function as a useful summary of ethical principles and to emphasize the importance of observing these principles. As such, the Code draws on the ethical and behavioral standards set forth in many separate university policies and principles, as well as applicable laws.

As stated in the Code, the university is subject to numerous laws and regulations that govern the various activities of the university as an employer, government contractor, institution of higher education, and entity operating overseas. The university expects all members of the university community to familiarize themselves with the federal, state and local laws and regulations that apply to their activities and conduct themselves in compliance with such laws and regulations. Noncompliance, even when inadvertent, can have severe consequences to the members involved and to the university, including civil liability, loss of funding, reputational harm, and in extreme cases criminal prosecution or sanctions.

To assist members of the university community and further their understanding of laws applicable to university activity overseas, the Office of the General Counsel has provided the following guidance on complying with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).

As a general matter, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA make it unlawful to bribe a foreign official for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business for or with or directing business to any person, or for the purpose of otherwise securing an improper advantage. Although this basic prohibition against bribery is relatively straightforward, the terms used in the FCPA have special definitions that make the statute broader than it initially seems.

The university complies with the FCPA in its dealings with foreign officials, as that term is defined in the law. The university expects all members of the university community to comply with the FCPA as well, and expects them not to take any action that could cause the university not to be in compliance with the FCPA. The Office of the General Counsel is responsible for ensuring compliance with the FCPA. To that end, the Office of the General Counsel has published detailed FCPA Guidance.

The Office of Human Resources— Learning and Development ("L&D") in collaboration with the Office of the General Counsel provides training to members of the university community on various laws and regulations that apply to university activities, and how such laws are complied with. In addition, various university departments provide FCPA training to their personnel engaged in overseas activities. View the FCPA training materials.

As a supplement to the FCPA training materials provided on this website, the Office of the General Counsel has also prepared a set of frequently asked questions regarding the FCPA to assist members of the university community in understanding certain issues presented by the FCPA.

The Office of the General Counsel and the University Contracts Office have standard language concerning FCPA compliance to be included in all third party contracts used overseas, such as vendor agreements, consultant agreements, honorariums, purchase order terms and conditions, etc.

Each member of the university community has the responsibility to ask questions, seek guidance, and report suspected violations of the Code, this guidance, or any other applicable law or regulation, contractual or other obligation of the university, or of university policy or procedure. Individuals are encouraged to report possible FCPA violations through standard management channels, such as to their immediate supervisor or other appropriate university officials. However, an individual who for any reason feels uncomfortable reporting a suspected violation through established channels may file an anonymous report through the University’s Ethics Reporting Hotline.

Reports of suspected violations may be made confidentially, and even anonymously, although the more information that is given, the easier it is to investigate the reports. A report of a suspected violation is a service to the university and will not in itself jeopardize employment with the university.  That is, no person who makes a good faith report of a suspected violation will be reprimanded or retaliated against in any way.

The Office of the General Counsel has prepared a set of FAQs regarding the FCPA. If you have other questions regarding the FCPA or this guidance please contact Dan Munsch in the Office of the General Counsel.

The FCPA materials presented on this website are also available in PDF format.