Financial Disclosure Policy for Federally Funded Projects

Policy

The University and its faculty often benefit from the faculty's participation in both public and private outside activities. The University has no interest in setting forth detailed rules that may interfere with faculty members' legitimate outside interests.

Faculty members/investigators, 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 faculty.

In accordance with Federal regulations, the University has a responsibility to manage, reduce, or eliminate any actual or potential conflicts of interest that may be presented by a financial interest of a faculty member/investigator. Thus, the University requires that faculty member/investigators disclose any significant financial interest that may present an actual or potential conflict of interest or commitment in relationship with a federally sponsored project.

Faculty members/investigators are required to make full and timely disclosures to the University of all outside financial activities and/or financial holdings related to their federally funded grant and research activities. They must also disclose equities and position of immediate family members which could create a conflict of interest or the perception of same between their University obligations and the family member's outside activities and/or financial holdings.

The areas of potential conflict may be divided into two categories. Conflicts of Interest are defined as situations in which faculty members/investigators may have the opportunity to influence the University's business decisions in ways that could lead to personal gain or give improper advantage to members of their families or associates. Conflicts of Commitment are defined as situations in which faculty members/investigators' external activities interfere or appear to interfere with their paramount obligations to their students, colleagues, and the University.

Guidelines

In those circumstances in which the University is engaged in or intends to engage in a federally funded project with a commercial organization, or has subcontracted or intends to subcontract to an external organization under one of the University sponsored federal projects, a conflict of interest may occur when a faculty member/investigator's affiliation with the federal government or external organization involved in the project meets the following criteria:

  1. The faculty member/investigator is an officer, director, partner, trustee, employee, advisory board member, or agent of an external organization or corporation assisting in the funding of the federally sponsored project or providing goods and services under a sponsored project in which the faculty member/investigator is participating in any capacity.
  2. The faculty member/investigator is the actual or beneficial owner of more than five percent(5%) of the voting stock or controlling interest of such organization or corporation, and;
  3. The faculty member/investigator has dealings with such organization or corporation from which he or she derives income of more than $10,000 per year, exclusive of dividends and interest.
  4. The faculty member/investigator's immediate family meet any of the criteria stated in a-c above.

Each faculty member/investigator participating in a University federally sponsored project must disclose whether or not he or she has external affiliations that may constitute a conflict by falling within the criteria stated in paragraphs a-d above. A disclosure must be completed prior to the University's acceptance of the federally sponsored project or issuance of purchase order or subcontract for the acquisition of goods and services. The disclosure form(attachment 1) is to be sent to the Office of Risk Management through the faculty members/investigator's department chair or dean. Positive disclosures will be reviewed by a Conflict Review Committee consisting of the Vice Provost for Research, the Asst. Att. General, the Director of the Research and Sponsored Programs, and the Director for Risk Management.

In reviewing the positive disclosures, the Conflict Review Committee will be guided by the following practices and apply them as may be appropriate:

  1. Assure adherence to relevant University policies, state laws, and procedures, the Faculty Handbook, and other University documents the Conflict Review Committee may deem appropriate.
  2. Consider the nature and extent of the financial interest in the relationship of the faculty member and the external organization.
  3. Give special consideration to the terms and conditions of sponsored project agreements that may mitigate or complicate the given situation.
  4. Consult with and obtain additional information from the faculty member as either the Conflict Review Committee or the faculty member/investigator feel may be helpful in resolving actual or potential conflicts.
  5. Act in a timely manner so as not to delay unduly the conduct of the federally sponsored project.
  6. Conclude that the University may take one of the following actions:
    1. Accept the sponsored project award.
    2. Not accept the federally sponsored project award.
    3. Accept the sponsored project subject to suitable modifications in either the sponsored project award document or the external organizational affiliation of the faculty member or faculty member's family.

If the faculty member/investigator is dissatisfied with the Conflict Review Committee's conclusion, the faculty member may appeal to the Provost who will consult with the faculty member/investigator and the Conflict Review Committee as the Provost deems necessary and appropriate for the particular circumstance. The decision of the Provost shall be final.

Violations of this policy, such as willful concealment of financial interests, may result in sanctions being imposed upon the violating individual. The Conflict Review Committee will review allegations of violations and will make recommendations regarding the imposition of sanctions to the Provost. The decision of the Provost with regard to the imposition of sanctions shall be final.

Records pertaining to each disclosure will be maintained in strict confidence by the Research and Sponsored Programs. Access to such records will be limited to the faculty member/investigator, the Conflict Review Committee, the Provost, and others who have legal right to review the records.

It shall be the responsibility of the designee of the Conflict Review Committee to inform the federal agency funding the project that the institution is unable to satisfactorily manage a conflict of interest.

Page Updated 12.12.2011