Academic Catalog


VII.Community Standards and Policies: D. Conflict-of-Interest for Federal Grants

Consistent with the University's general Conflict-of-Interest Policy governing related actions of Board members, University Officers and members of the Administrative Staff of the University, all decisions made by faculty and staff engaged in any research-related activities funded, or to be funded, by federal funds are made solely on the basis of a desire to promote the best interests of the University, the federal agency providing the funding for the research, and the federal government. It is therefore the policy of the University:

That each Investigator of a federally-funded grant disclose to the University, on a continuing basis, all the Investigator's relationships, business affiliations and significant financial interests that reasonably appear to be directly and significantly affected by the research or educational activities funded, or proposed for funding, by any federal funding agency or in entities whose financial interests would reasonably appear to be directly and significantly affected by such activities. The Investigator must provide all required financial disclosures at the time the proposal is submitted and must be updated during the pendency of the award on an annual basis via the completion of a conflict-of-interest questionnaire.

For the purposes of this conflict-of-interest policy, the term “Investigator” is defined as the Principal Investigator of the grant, Co-Principal Investigators, and any other person at the University who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research or educational activities funded or proposed for funding by any federal agencies. The Investigator is considered to be “affiliated” with an organization if the Investigator or a member of the Investigator's immediate family (i.e., spouse and dependent children):

  1. is an officer, director, trustee, partner, employee, or agent of such organization; or
  2. has financial interests in business enterprises or entities of over $5,000; or
  3. is either the actual or beneficial owner of more than 5% of the voting stock or controlling interest of such organization when aggregated for the Investigator, the Investigator's spouse and dependent children; or
  4. has any direct or indirect dealings with such organizations from which the Investigator knowingly is materially benefitted.

The Investigator is considered to have “significant financial interest” when the Investigator, a spouse, or dependent children receive, or is beneficiary, to anything of monetary value, including, but not limited to, salary or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria); equity interests (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interests); and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights). The term does not include:

  1. salary, royalties or other remuneration from the University;
  2. income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit entities; or
  3. income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities; or
  4. financial interests in business enterprises or entities if the value of such interests does not exceed $5,000 or represent more than a 5% ownership interest for any one enterprise or entity when aggregated for the Investigator, the Investigator's spouse, and dependent children.

All required disclosures must be directed in writing to the Vice President for Finance and Management, or their designee, who, with the Provost and, when necessary, the President and University Counsel shall have responsibility for administration of this policy. This will include reviewing the financial disclosures, which have been made, determine whether an actual or potential conflict of interest exists, and determine what conditions or restrictions, if any, should be imposed by the institution to manage, reduce, or eliminate any conflicts of interest which may exist. In the event that a conflict of interest is considered to exist (or potentially exist), certain conditions or restrictions will be imposed by the aforementioned parties to manage, reduce, or eliminate the potential conflict.

These include: public disclosure of the Investigator's significant financial interests (as defined above), monitoring of research by independent reviewers, modification of the research plan, divestiture of significant financial interests, or the severance of relationships that create the actual or potential conflicts. In the event that any of the above are undesirable or unobtainable, the disqualification from participation in the portion of the federally funded research that would be affected by the significant financial interests will be considered in addressing the potential conflict-of-interest. However, if, in the opinion of the Vice President for Finance and Management or their designee and the Provost, it is determined that imposing conditions or restrictions would be either ineffective or inequitable, and that the potential negative impacts that may arise from a significant financial interest are outweighed by interests of scientific progress, technology transfer, or the public health and welfare, then the research may be allowed to proceed without imposing any conditions or restrictions.

If the University finds that it is unable to satisfactorily manage an actual or potential conflict of interest, the Vice President for Finance and Management, or their designee, will notify the federal agency involved and keep them appropriately informed. In these situations, the reviewers shall present their findings in writing to the President with recommendations for corrective action.

The President, in consultation with University legal counsel as appropriate, will make a decision regarding sanctions, communicating the decision to the faculty member. All records of financial disclosures and actions taken to resolve actual or potential conflicts of interest will be retained for a period of at least three years after the letter of the termination or completion of the grant award to which they relate, or the resolution of any government action involving the records.

The processes and procedures described hereinabove for cases involving federal monies shall be interpreted consistent with NSF GPM Provisions, Section 510, involving conflicts-of-interest and may be expanded as necessary to comply with said standards or successor federal standards as may be applicable to financial conflicts-of-interest and scholarly activities.