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UNIVERSITY POLICY ON CONFLICT OF INTEREST PERTAINING TO SPONSORED PROJECTS
The teaching, research, and service mission of SIUE must be conducted in an objective manner, free from undue influence arising from private or other special interests. The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for recognizing, disclosing, and managing conflicts of interest.
This policy sets forth procedures and guidelines that are to be followed in resolving actual and potential conflicts of interest and commitment pertaining to sponsored projects. This policy applies to all sponsored projects. Employees receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health must also comply with additional policies governing Financial Conflict of Interest (see University Policy).
The University and its employees often benefit from the employee's participation in both public and private outside activities. The University has no interest in setting forth detailed rules that may interfere with the employee's legitimate outside interests.
Employees, in turn, must also ensure that their outside obligations, financial interests, and activities do not conflict or interfere with their commitment to the University. This obligation pertains to both full-time and part-time employees.
- General Principleploes must arrange their external obligations and private financial interests so as not to impede or conflict with their duties and responsibilities to the University. (See the appendix for a discussion of examples of conflicts of interest and commitment.)
- All employees must notify the University of potential conflicts of interests, and employees may not maintain unacceptable conflicts of interests.
- No person employed by the University may have interests incompatible with the University.
- All employees either receiving or participating in sponsored projects funded by the National Institutes of Health must also comply with the University’s Financial Conflict of Interest policy, which takes precedence over this policy in matters of financial conflict of interest.
- Interests incompatible with the University means any commitment between an employee and external entity which:
- may restrict or impair the employee's ability to perform his/her activities at the university, or
- which results in the transfer or compromise of existing or potential University rights in intellectual property, or
- which utilizes University resources without prior written approval of the University.
- Unacceptable conflicts of interest include:
- diverting to outside entities grant/contract support the University might otherwise expect ;
- using University and other public resources, including assigned time and facilities, for private gain without proper compensation to or consent from the University;
- impeding the dissemination of research information; and,
- using a position of influence or authority to involve other employees or students of the University in non-University activities without the consent and supervision of the University.
- A conflict of interest encompasses any situation in which an employee of the University uses or is in a position to use his or her influence or authority within the University to advance his or her own personal or financial interest, or the personal or financial interests of his or her immediate family, or associated entity.
- A significant financial interest of an employee means:
- a 5 percent or more ownership interest in a business, but excluding any interest arising by reason of investment by a mutual fund, pension or other institutional investment fund that the employee does not exercise control, or
- a receipt of or the right to receive income from a business, whether in the form of a fee, salary, allowance, forbearance, interest in real or personal property, dividend, royalty from licensing, rent, or other form of compensation, or any combination that exceeds $5,000 in monetary value.
The following are excluded from the definition of significant financial interests:
- honoraria from occasional lectures,
- isolated, non-recurring consulting activities that result in payments which do not exceed $5,000 from a single source during a calendar year and,
- receipt of University support or royalties for supervised sponsored activities.
Individuals participating in sponsored projects funded by the National Institutes of Health must comply with the University’s policy on financial conflict of interest which takes precedence over the definitions of “significant financial interests” stated above.
- An "associated entity" of any employee means any trust, organization or enterprise other than the University over which the employee, alone or together with his or her family, exercises a controlling interest.
- "Business" means any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, franchise, association, organization, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, business or real estate trust, or any other legal entity organized for profit or charitable purposes.
- "Executive position" refers to any position which includes responsibilities for a material segment of the operation or management of a Business, to include serving on its Board of Directors.
- The "family" of an employee includes his or her spouse, minor children, and other persons living in the same household related to the employee.
- Financial Disclosure:
All Employees submitting a grant or contract must file a Financial Disclosure form if they or members of their immediate family have a significant financial interest that would reasonably appear to be directly affected by the employee's proposed sponsored project.
Employees submitting a grant or contract who do not have a significant financial interest must certify on the "Proposal Checklist, External Grant/Contract" form that no potential conflict of interest exists.
Individuals who must file a Financial Disclosure form must submit the form along with the "Proposal Checklist, External Grant/Contract" form.
Any conflicts of interest identified in the disclosure process must be resolved before the University can approve the individual's activity with an external entity. In addition, a Financial Disclosure form must be submitted immediately by the individual during the effective dates of the activity, if any change in circumstances may create a conflict of interest or commitment.
Definitions and Examples
The University and its faculty often benefit from the faculty's participation in public and private outside activities. This policy has no intention of interfering with faculty members' legitimate outside interests.
Activities that are clearly permissible include:
- acceptance of royalties for published works and patents, or of honoraria for papers and lectures;
- payments as a consultant to an outside entity, provided that the time commitment does not exceed University policy and that the arrangement does not alter the faculty member's commitments to the University, and;
- service on boards and committees of outside entities that does not distract from the faculty member's obligation to the University.
The definitions and examples listed below are intended to aid the University's employees and appropriate review bodies in identifying conflicts of interest. Identifying conflict situations and documenting steps taken to manage these conflicts serves to protect the employee and the institution, as well as assures that the University will remain eligible for Governmental-sponsored research.
While it is difficult to conclusively define distinct types of conflicts of interest, it is useful to divide conflicts into the following categories.
1. Conflicts of Interest
A "conflict of interest" encompasses any situation in which an employee of the University uses, or is in a position to use, his or her influence and authority within the University to advance his or her own personal or financial interest, or the personal or financial interests of his or her immediate family.
Examples of these types of conflicts may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Use for personal gain or unauthorized use of privileged information acquired in connection with the employee's sponsored activities.
- Negotiation or influence upon the negotiation of grants and contracts relating to the employee's sponsored agreement between the University and private organizations with which the employee has consulting or other significant relationships.
- Acceptance of gratuities or special favors from private organizations with which the University does or may conduct business.
- Extension of gratuities or special favors to employees of the sponsoring agency, under circumstances which might reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to influence the recipients in the conduct of their duties.
2. Conflicts of Commitment
A "conflict of commitment" encompasses any situation in which outside activities undertaken by the individual are sufficiently demanding of the individual's time and attention as to interfere, or appear to interfere, with his or her obligations to the University. A conflict of commitment may also occur if the individual is concurrently conducting activities sponsored by a federal, state, or local public agency and a private corporation.
Conflicts of commitment may arise between the individual and the University as a result of consulting agreements, grants and contracts with outside agencies, and individual or family involvement in private financial interests. Under Illinois law, all full-time faculty of the University are required to obtain the prior written approval of the Chancellor of the University, or the Chancellor's designee, before undertaking, contracting for, or accepting anything of value in return for research or consulting services from any external person or organization. Further, the law requires retrospective reporting, through the filing of an annual statement by the employee, indicating the amount of actual time spent on such outside research or consulting services. There are two principles that broadly govern conflict of commitment;
- As an employee of the University, the individual's commitment and obligation to the University must have priority over the commitments to outside interests.
- University resources may not be used either for personal gain, private, gain, or in support of outside agencies, without proper approval of the University.
Examples of such conflicts may include:
- Commitment of Time: Ordinarily, University employees are given the opportunity to pursue outside interests that are consistent with the mission of the University. However, if the time commitment to these activities becomes excessive, the educational mission of the University will suffer.
- Commitment of Resources: Individuals who are engaged in non-University activities may not use University resources without prior approval of the University. Such resources include the use of University research labs or instrumentation, use of computer facilities, or the use of classrooms or other facilities. These facilities may be used in outside activities with the University's permission if the external or private entity agrees to provide suitable compensation to the University.
- Commitment of Other Individuals: In general, individuals may not involve graduate or undergraduate students in outside activities unless it can be demonstrated that participation in these activities affords a substantial educational benefit for the student. Cases involving use of students must be closely monitored by the academic unit, and not by the individual researcher.
- Intellectual Properties: No University employee may cede or transfer rights to patents, licenses, or copyrights of research results to any external agency. Patents, copyrights, or other proprietary rights must be shared by the University in accordance with arrangements set forth in the research or consulting contract and pursuant to the University's Policy Governing Research Involving Patents and Copyrights.
- Other Considerations: The individual as well as outside entities may not use the University's name without prior University approval.
Conflicts of Commitment may also arise if the employee is simultaneously engaged in publicly and privately sponsored activities. In this case, it is the responsibility of the university to insure that public funds designated for the activity are not channeled to private individuals or organizations, and that results from publicly financed activities are appropriately disseminated. Examples of these types of conflict may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Unnecessarily delaying or withholding from publication results of publicly supported activities, while making the results available exclusively to a private organization.
- Using public funds to conduct activities for private individuals or organizations.
- Redirecting a sponsored project to serve the research or other needs of a private firm without disclosure to the University and to the sponsoring agency.
- Purchase of major equipment, instruments, materials, or other items for the University from the private firm in which the investigator serves, without the disclosure of such interest.
- Consulting or holding grants or contracts with two or more private corporations without informing the other parties of concurrent commitments.