Conflict of Interest Policy

 
 
Document Number:
RISK-0009
Revision #:
v2.0
Document Owner:
Risk Management
Date Last Updated:
5/3/2021
Status:
Approved

General Description

Policy Summary:

Conflicts of interest occur when employees are in a position to influence decisions on policy, purchases or research where they may directly or indirectly receive financial benefit or give improper advantage to associates/family. Conflicts of commitment arise when employees are involved in outside activities that substantially interfere with their primary responsibility to Trinity University

For purposes of this policy,  employees include all faculty, staff, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and other third parties. Italicized words are defined in the Terms and Definition section.
 

Purpose:

Trinity University expects all employees to exercise good judgement, professional commitment, and the highest ethical standards in their extramural activities that can in any way affect Trinity University. Trinity University promotes objectivity in research by establishing standards to ensure that the design, conduct, and reporting of research will be free of any financial conflict of interest. Every employee has an obligation to avoid any activity, agreement, business investment or interest, or other situation that could be construed to be in conflict with the Trinity University's interest or to interfere with the employee's duty to serve the Trinity University. Where existing outside interests contravene the policy, the employee will be permitted a reasonable period, not to exceed three months, to make adjustments or to manage the conflict as approved by the Conflict of Interest Committee. 

Scope:

This policy applies to all faculty, staff, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and other third parties.

Exceptions:

  1. Specific exceptions may be made by the Conflict of Interest Committee upon application in writing by the employee. Such exceptions shall be wholly discretionary and shall be adopted at such times and under such conditions as will serve the interests of Trinity University
  2. The Conflict of Interest Committee will determine whether an actual or potential conflict of interest exists, and determine what conditions or restrictions, if any, should be imposed by Trinity University to manage, reduce or eliminate such conflict of interest. Each member of the Conflict of Interest Committee must be in attendance to consider the exception. Absentees will be considered negative votes. The President of Trinity University will make the decision in the case of a tie vote.
Policy Content
  1. No employee shall have a direct or indirect interest in any business enterprise that is a competitor of the university or has dealings with the university as a supplier. An employee in a position to influence a university business decision for which he/she may receive material benefit should disclose the nature of the conflict to his/her immediate supervisor, and, where possible remove himself/herself from involvement in the decision. If the individual(s) continue to participate in the decision process, discussion with supervisors and documentation of the potential conflict should be presented to the Conflict of Interest Committee. 
  2. No employee shall seek or receive, for personal or any other person's gain, any payment, whether for services or otherwise, loan (except from a bank), gift or discount of more than nominal value, or entertainment that goes beyond common courtesies usually associated with accepted business practice from any business enterprise that is a competitor of the university or has current or known prospective dealings with the university as a supplier or could benefit from your submission of research data. 
  3. No employee shall, for personal or any other person's gain, deprive the university of any opportunity for benefit that could be construed as related to any existing or reasonably anticipated future activity of the university.
  4. No employee shall, for personal or any other person's gain, make use of or disclose confidential information learned as a result of employment by the university. Any information that has been acquired in connection with sponsored research by university members cannot be withheld from the sponsoring organization(s) for personal benefit.
  5. No employee shall have any outside interest that materially interferes with the required time or attention that the employee must devote to the university. Employees should not undertake or orient activities to serve the needs of an outside organization at the expense of fulfilling the mission of the university.
  6. Before considering outside employment or consulting activities, an employee should discuss with his/her appropriate supervisor potential conflicts of commitment or interest. Employees regularly involved in consulting activities from which they profit financially, are not in conflict as long as:
    1. ​University resources (laboratories, studios, equipment, computational facilities, and/or human resources) are not used more than incidentally without reimbursing the university.
    2. Such activities do not unduly interfere with the time and energy committed by the individuals to their primary responsibilities to the university. The allowable amount of time dedicated to consulting will be governed by the Consulting Policy.
    3. Such involvement does not inhibit the publication of research findings developed in the course of the individual's regular university activities.
  7. ​The university actively encourages involvement in professional organizations, panels, advisory commissions, government, charitable and community organizations. However, such involvement should not become so dominant that university members no longer effectively satisfy their responsibilities to the university. 
  8. Faculty members must exercise prudence in directing students and supervised employees toward activities from which the faculty might financially benefit. If a potential conflict exists, faculty are encouraged to consult their department chair or dean for an independent evaluation of the activities' educational merits.
  9. No employee shall act or be involved in any situation that potentially conflicts with the principle that this policy is intended to implement.
Performance Evaluation

Consequences of Policy Violation:

Violation of this policy may be grounds for disciplinary action. Trinity University will make the final determination for disciplinary action. Many actions are available and may be taken in a fashion consistent and commensurate with the nature of the proven acts of misconduct. Examples include:
  • Suspension of eligibility to seek external funding or IRB approval, or to supervise research students
  • Probation
  • Reduction in rank or salary
  • Suspension or termination of employment
The AVPAA:B&R shall be responsible for appropriate dissemination of this policy.
Requirements

Approvals:

  • VP for Finance and Administration
  • VP for Academic Affairs

Terms and Definitions:

Term:

Definition:

Activities
Includes both direct activities and financial interest in the activities of other businesses.
Business
Any corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, franchise, association, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, trust, or any other legal entity organized for profit. This does not include mutual funds over which the investigator has no control, or any governmental committee, community, political, academic, charitable, religious, social, or professional non-profit organization.
Conflict of Interest Committee (CIC)
A group made up of all Vice Presidents charged with determining what to do in cases of employees’ conflicts of interest.
Employee
Includes all faculty, staff , contractors, vendors, volunteers, and other third parties.
Equity Interests
Ownership or control of stock, stock options, or other investment instruments.
Facilities
Excludes theemployee’s office, office equipment, and incidental supplies (e.g., copying, fax, internet service) .
Family
Spouse and dependent children.
Intellectual Property
Includes organized information, ideas, fabrication methods, devices, or substances that are patented or copyrighted or have that potential, and that are partially or fully owned by Trinity University. Excludes any intellectual property for which the investigator or employee holds a license from Trinity University or which is in the public domain.
Investigator
The principal investigator, co-principal investigators, and any other person at the institution who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research or educational activities funded by a federal grant.
Trinity University
Includes all divisions and departments operated by Trinity University.
Research Integrity Committee (RIC)
A group composed of the AVPAA:B&R, the Controller, and the chairs of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). This group is charged with reviewing disclosures of significant financial interest related to externally funded programs in order to determine if a conflict of interest exists. If a conflict of interest exists, the RIC can devise and recommend a plan to manage the conflict to the CIC.

Significant Financial Interest
Means 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 applicant institution; (2) Any ownership interests in the institution, if the institution is an applicant under the SBIR Program; (3) Income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit entities; (4) Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities; (5) An equity interest that when aggregated for the Investigator and the Investigator's spouse and dependent children, meets both of the following tests: Does not exceed $10,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value, and does not represent more than a five percent ownership interest in any single entity; or (6) Salary, royalties or other payments that when aggregated for the Investigator and the Investigator's spouse and dependent children over the next twelve months, are not expected to exceed $10,000.
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
Means the extramural research program for small business that is established by the Awarding Components of the Public Health Service and certain other Federal agencies under Pub. L. 97-219, the Small Business Innovation. 
Public Health Service (PHS)
Means an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and any components of the PHS to which the authority involved may be delegated.
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Revision History Log:

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v2.0
5/3/2021 7:07 AM
Gary Logan
v1.0
8/2/2019 2:14 PM
Jennifer Gilmore Adamo