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Miscellaneous

Conflicts of Interest and Commitment - 1Q9

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 and commitment.

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 integrity of the project, the sponsor, the University, and the public interest. This obligation pertains to both full-time and part-time employees.

This policy sets forth procedures and guidelines that are to be followed in resolving actual and potential conflicts of interest and commitment. This policy applies to all sponsored projects, consulting, and volunteer activities. Certain provisions apply only to employees receiving funding from the Public Health Service (PHS) and other entities requiring financial conflict of interest disclosure.

      1. General Principles

        1. Employees must arrange their external obligations and financial interests so as not to impede or conflict with their duties and responsibilities to the University.

        2. All employees must notify the University of potential conflicts of interest, including potential financial conflicts of interest, and conflicts of commitment by submitting the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form.

        3. Employees must disclose potential financial conflicts of interest that could affect the design, conduct, or reporting of sponsored projects from entities that require disclosure of potential and actual financial conflicts of interest.

        4. Employees may not maintain unacceptable conflicts of interests or commitment.

        5. No person employed by the University may have interests or commitments incompatible with the University. An interest incompatible with the University includes but is not limited to any commitment between an employee and external entity:

          1. that may restrict or impair the employee's ability to perform his/her activities at the University or

          2. that results in the transfer or compromise of existing or potential University rights in intellectual property or

          3. that utilizes University resources without prior written approval of the University.

        6. Charges of violations of this Policy shall be carefully examined. Charges shall be processed in the normal reporting channels. Disciplinary sanctions may range from reprimands to dismissal, pursuant to University policies and any applicable bargaining agreements.

      2. Conflicts of Interest

        1. 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 an associated entity.

        2. 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.

        3. "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.

        4. "Executive position" refers to any position which includes responsibilities for a material segment of the operation or management of a business, including serving on its Board of Directors.

        5. The "family" of an employee includes his or her spouse, minor children, and other persons who are related to the employee biologically or by law.

        6. Unacceptable conflicts of interest include but are not limited to:

          1. diverting to outside entities grant/contract support the University might otherwise expect;

          2. using University and other public resources, including assigned time and facilities, for private gain without proper compensation to or consent from the University;

          3. impeding the dissemination of research information or creative activities;

          4. 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;

          5. using privileged information acquired in connection with the employee's activities for personal gain or unauthorized use;

          6. negotiating or influencing the negotiation of grants and contracts with organizations with which the employee has consulting or other significant relationships;

          7. accepting gratuities or special favors from private organizations with which the University does or may conduct business;

          8. extending gratuities or special favors to employees of an organization under circumstances which might reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to influence the recipients in the conduct of their duties.

      3. Conflicts of Commitment

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. Under Illinois law and University Policy (Policy on Outside Employment for Faculty, Personnel Policies, SIUE, II 26), 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 project 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.

        4. There are two principles that broadly govern conflict of commitment.

          1. As an employee of the University, the individual's commitment and obligation to the University must have priority over the commitments to outside interests.

          2. University resources may not be used either for personal gain, private gain, or in support of outside agencies, without proper approval of the University.

          Unacceptable conflicts of commitment include but are not limited to the following.

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

          3. 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 carefully monitored by the academic unit and not by the individual researcher.

          4. Intellectual Properties: No University employee may cede or transfer rights to patents, licenses, or copyrights of scholarly products to any external agency. Patents, copyrights, or other proprietary rights must be shared by the University in accordance with arrangements set forth in the project or consulting contract and pursuant to the University's Policy Concerning Intellectual Property 1L15.

          5. Use of the University's Name: The individual as well as outside entities may not use the University's name without prior University approval.

        5. 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:

          1. unnecessarily delaying or withholding from publication results of publicly supported activities, while making the results available exclusively to a private organization;

          2. using public funds to conduct activities for private individuals or organizations;

          3. 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;

          4. purchasing major equipment, instruments, materials, or other items for the University from a family member or the private firm in which the investigator serves without the disclosure of such interest;

          5. consulting or holding grants or contracts with two or more private corporations without informing the other parties of concurrent commitments;

          6. transmission to the private firm or other use for personal gain of government-sponsored work products, results, materials, records, or information that are not made generally available (This requirement would not necessarily preclude appropriate licensing arrangements for inventions or consulting on the basis of government-sponsored research results where there is significant additional work by the employee independent of the government-sponsored research.);

          7. using for personal gain or other unauthorized use of privileged information acquired in connection with the employee's government-sponsored activities (The term "privileged information" includes but is not limited to medical, personnel, and security records of individuals; anticipated material requirements or price actions; possible new sites for government operations; and knowledge of forthcoming programs or of selection of contractors or subcontractors in advance of official announcements.);

          8. negotiating or influencing the negotiation of contracts relating to the employee's sponsored project between the University and private organizations with which the employee has consulting or other significant relationships;

          9. accepting gratuities or special favors from private organizations with which the University does or may conduct business in connection with a sponsored project and extension of gratuities or special favors to employees of the sponsor under circumstances which might reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to influence the recipients in the conduct of their duties.

      4. Distribution of effort

        1. The way in which an employee divides effort among the various job functions and responsibilities does not raise ethical questions unless the sponsor supporting a project is misled in its understanding of the amount of intellectual effort an employee is actually devoting to the research in question. A system of precise time accounting is incompatible with the inherent character of the work of a faculty member because the various functions performed are closely interrelated and do not conform to any meaningful division of a standard work week. On the other hand, if the project agreement contemplates that an employee will devote a certain fraction of effort to the sponsored project or the employee agrees to assume responsibility in relation to such project a demonstrable relationship between the indicated effort or responsibility and the actual extent of involvement is to be expected.

      5. Consulting for government agencies or their contractors

        1. When an employee engaged in a government-sponsored project also serves as a consultant to a federal agency, his or her conduct is subject to the provisions of the Conflict of Interest Statutes (18 U.S.C. 202-209 as amended) and all other provisions governing special government employees. (See, for example, the United States Office of Government Ethics.) When an employee consults for one or more government contractors or prospective contractors in the same technical field as his or her research project, care must be taken to avoid giving advice that may be of questionable objectivity because of its possible bearing on the employee's other interests. In undertaking and performing consulting services, the employee must make full disclosure of such interests to the University and to the contractor insofar as they may appear to relate to the work at the University or for the contractor. Conflict of interest problems could arise, for example, in the participation of an employee of the University in an evaluation for the government agency or its contractor of some technical aspects of the work of another organization with which the employee has a consulting or employment relationship or a significant financial interest or in an evaluation of a competitor to such other organization.

      6. Sponsors Requiring Financial Conflict of Interest Disclosure (FCOI)

        1. Certain sponsors, including the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) (which oversees agencies such as the National Institutes of Health) require the University and its employees to establish and follow guidelines for recognizing, disclosing, and managing actual and potential significant financial conflicts of interest in relation to the sponsored project. This policy promotes objectivity in research by establishing standards that provide a reasonable expectation that the design, conduct, and reporting of projects will be free from bias resulting from financial conflicts of interest.

        2. Definitions

          1. Conflict of Interest means a state of affairs in which an investigator or his or her immediate family has significant financial interests that could lead an independent observer to reasonably question whether the design, conduct, or reporting of the funded project might be influenced by the possibility of financial gain.

          2. Immediate family means an investigator's spouse, domestic partner, and anyone who receives directly or indirectly more than half of his or her support from the investigator or from whom the investigator receives directly or indirectly more than half of his or her support.

          3. Investigator means the project director or any other person regardless of title who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of a project funded by the sponsor, which may include collaborators, subcontractors, and consultants.

          4. Institutional Responsibilities means an investigator's professional responsibilities on behalf of SIUE, including scholarship, consultation, teaching, professional practice, and University committee membership.

          5. Significant Financial Interest (SFI) means one or more of the following interests of the investigator and those of his/her immediate family that reasonably appears to be related to the investigator's institutional responsibilities. Remuneration includes salary and any payment for services not otherwise identified as salary as well as equity interest including stock, stock option, and ownership interest.

            1. A SFI exists in relation to a publicly traded entity if the value of any remuneration received in the 12 months preceding the disclosure and the value of any equity interest in the entity totals to exceed $5000.
            2. A SFI exists in relation to non-publicly traded entities when the value of remuneration exceeds $5000 or when the investigator and his/her family hold any equity interest or any intellectual property rights and interests. Note that there is no minimum value for equity interest in non-publicly traded entities.
            3. A SFI includes any reimbursed or sponsored investigator travel related to his or her institutional responsibilities. Reimbursed or sponsored travel includes travel that is paid on behalf of the investigator but not reimbursed directly to the investigator.

            The following are excluded from the definition of significant financial interests:

            1. salary, royalties or other remuneration paid by SIUE to the investigator for appropriate grant and contract activity;
            2. intellectual property rights assigned to SIUE and agreements to share royalties related to those rights;
            3. income from investment vehicles such as mutual funds and retirement accounts as long as the investigator does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles;
            4. income from seminars, lectures or teaching engagements sponsored by SIUE; a federal, state, or local agency or institution of higher education; or an academic hospital, medical center or research institute affiliated with a university;
            5. income from service to advisory committees or review panels associated with the same agencies identified in item d above.

        3. Financial Disclosure

          SIUE must report promptly to the sponsor any conflicts of interest SIUE has identified, including those of its subrecipients and subcontractors, and provide assurance that the interests have been managed prior to expending any funds under an award if:

          1. bias is found with the design, conduct or reporting of the project; or

          2. an Investigator fails to comply with SIUE's FCOI policy or a FCOI management plan; or

          3. a FCOI management plan appears to have biased the design, conduct, or reporting of the funded project

            Any conflicts of interest identified in the disclosure process must be resolved before the University can approve the individual's activity on the project. The University must complete and document retrospective reviews within 120 days of the University's determination of noncompliance for SFIs not disclosed in a timely manner or previously reviewed or whenever an FCOI is not identified or managed in a timely manner. In addition, the public must have access to the investigator's Financial Disclosure form.

        4. Procedures

          Procedures for this Policy will be managed by the Graduate School in compliance with all state and federal rules and regulations. These procedures may be revised by the Graduate School as necessary.

        5. Training

          Each investigator must complete FCOI training prior to engaging in a project requiring FCOI disclosure. Investigators must complete training every 4 years and immediately when any of the following occurs:

          1. SIUE finds the investigator noncompliant with its policy or a management plan; or

          2. the investigator is new to SIUE; or

          3. the SIUE policy changes in a manner that significantly affects requirements.

        6. Record Keeping

          The University must maintain FCOI-related records for at least 3 years after the termination of the activity (date of the final financial report and progress report to the funding agency).

        7. Sanctions

          Charges of violations of this Policy shall be carefully examined. Charges shall be processed in the normal reporting channels. Disciplinary sanctions may range from reprimands to dismissal, pursuant to University Policies and any applicable collective bargaining agreements.

          When the Department of Health and Human Services determines that a PHS/NIH-funded research project of clinical research whose purpose is to evaluate the safety of effectiveness of a drug, medical device, or treatment has been designed, conducted, or reported by an Investigator with a FCOI that was not managed or reported by SIUE as required by regulation, the Investigator shall:

          1. disclose the FCOI in each public presentation of the results of the research;

          2. request an addendum to previously published presentations.

      7. Permissible Activities

        1. Employees may accept royalties for published works and patents and honoraria for papers and lectures subject to the "Policy on Use of Material from which Instructors May Profit," (SIUE personnel policies II-37 in the faculty handbook).

        2. Employees may accept payments as a consultant to an outside entity provided that the time commitment does not exceed University and unit policy and that the arrangement does not alter the faculty member's commitments to the University.

        3. Employees may serve on boards and committees of outside entities that does not distract from the faculty member's obligation to the University.

      8. University Responsibility

        1. SIUE shall make known to the sponsor:

          1. the steps it is taking to assure an understanding on the part the University administration and employees of the possible conflicts of interest or other problems that may develop in the foregoing types of situations

          2. the organizational and administrative actions it has taken or is taking to avoid such problems, including:

            1. accounting procedures to be used to assure that sponsor funds are expended for the purposes for which they have been provided and that all services which are required in return for these funds are supplied;
            2. procedures that enable it to be award of the outside professional work of staff members participating in sponsored projects if such outside work relates in any way to the sponsored project;
            3. the formulation of standards to guide the individual University employees in governing their conduct in relation to outside interests that might raise questions on conflicts of interest;
            4. the provision within the University of an informed source of advice and guidance to its employees for advance consultation on questions they wish to raise concerning the problems that may or do develop as a result of their outside financial or consulting interests as they relate to their participation in sponsored projects.

The above process of disclosure and consultation is the obligation assumed by the University when it accepts funds for projects. The process must, of course, be carried out in a manner that does not infringe on the legitimate freedoms and flexibility of action of the University and its employees that have traditionally characterized a university. It is desirable that standards and procedures or the kind discussed be formulated and administered by members of the university community themselves, through their joint initiative and responsibility, for it is they who are the best judges of the conditions which can most effectively stimulate the search for knowledge and preserve the requirements of academic freedom. Experience indicates that such standards and procedures should be developed and specified by joint administrative-faculty action.

Approved by Chancellor effective 8/21/14.
This policy was issued on September 15, 2014, replacing the March 22, 2004 version
Document Reference: 1Q9
Origin: OC 3/12/04; GR 13/14-11

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