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Workplace Practices: Conflict of Interest


SECTION: HR - Workplace Practices NEXT REVIEW DATE: May 2017
APPROVED: May 2015 REVIEWER: Director of Human Resources
APPROVED BY: William C. Rickle, S.J. REVISION DATE: June 2016
  REVISION NUMBER: 1

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1.0 PURPOSE

This policy governs all employees of the University (Administration, Faculty, and Staff) who have an interest in, or has a family member having an interest in, any organization or company having or seeking to have financial dealings with the University or having an interest in any organization that is in direct competition with a service provided by the University.

2.0 POLICY

2.1 Policy Statement

Faculty, Administration, and Staff employees are expected to avoid impropriety, or the appearance of impropriety, in the performance of their duties on behalf of the University. Employees are expected to fulfill their University duties and administer University resources in furtherance of the University's mission and interests and may not use either their position or the knowledge gained on their job to inappropriately influence University decisions for their personal advantage or that of their family or their friends.

2.2 Procedures

2.2.1 Employees must disclose potential conflicts of interest in writing and obtain advance approval to proceed before initiating any transaction or engaging in any decision on behalf of the University. Failure to disclose potential conflicts may result in University disciplinary action in conformance with the Corrective Action policy. The University may require senior administrators to annually disclose potential conflicts for consideration.

2.2.2 This policy describes common conflict situations, sets forth University expectations regarding the avoidance of conflicts of interest, and describes the mandatory process for disclosing potential conflicts of interest. No policy can address specifically every conceivable situation that might entail a conflict of interest. As a general principle, employee's should avoid any actions or situations that might result in or create the appearance of using their association with the University for private financial gain, according unwarranted preferential treatment, losing independence or impartiality, or adversely affecting the University's reputation or public confidence in its integrity. Such conflicts include:

  • Financial Conflicts - Employees must remain independent from vendors, contractors, suppliers, firms or organizations doing business with the university. Employees may not accept money, gratuities, gifts, favors, entertainment, or reimbursement of expenses from individuals or groups of individuals representing vendors, contractors, suppliers, firms or organizations with which the University has business dealings if acceptance might reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to influence the employee in the conduct of the employee's duties on behalf of the University.
  • Externally Funded Research - Disclosure and management of potential conflicts of interest with respect to externally-funded research projects are governed by the Faculty Handbook.
  • Employment Conflicts - Employees and their immediate family members many not be assigned to positions in which one would have direct or indirect administrative or supervisory responsibility for the other or be in a positon to influence the terms or conditions of the other's employment. Employees may not sign-off on payroll, personnel forms that affect their own salary, or approve reimbursement of their own expenses or those of a direct supervisor.
    In a similar fashion, Conflict of Commitment and Loyalty situations include:
  • Commitment - An employee's outside employment, consulting, and professional activities are governed by the appropriate Handbook or University policy. Full-time employees may engage in non-University employment, consulting, or professional practice only when such work will be performed outside University duty hours, while on leave from the University (paid, unpaid, or release time), and the work will not interfere with the performance of the employee's professional duties and responsibilities to the University. Pre-approval from the senior executive administrator responsible for the employee's work performance must be obtained before the employee accepts assignments other than the employee's primary work assignment.
  • Loyalty - Employees may not transmit to a private firm or use for personal gain any University or University-related work products, research results, materials, records, information, or other resources that are not made generally available to the public. This includes information noted within the Information Security policy.

2.3 Definitions

2.3.1 Conflict of Interest - A situation in which the interests of an employee and the interests of the University diverge, or may appear to diverge. Conflicts can arise when there is a potential for an employee, the employee's family members, or the employee's friends to benefit personally as a result of the employee's involvement in a University activity or decision. Conflict may also arise when the employee has non-University interests or duties that could possibly influence how the employee acts in performance the employee's duties on behalf of the University. Actual impropriety is not necessary for a conflict of interest to arise: the appearance or potential for a conflict can be just as damaging as actual self-dealing. A conflict of interest can occur:

  • When an employee, a member of the employee's family, or an organization in which the employee or a family member has a significant ownership interest, a managerial function, or other material interest, receives a financial or other benefit from knowledge or information which the University deems "private-confidential," "restricted," or proprietary to the University.
  • When an employee influences or participates in negotiations, or enters into a contract to purchase goods and/or services, for the University from an organization in which the employee, or a member of the employee's family, has a financial interest, a managerial function or other relationship and may provide financial gain.
  • When an employee uses for personal financial gain "private-confidential" or "restricted" information designated by the University, other University information, or assists an outside organization in obtaining a preferred position with respect to such information.
  • When an employee accepts gratuities, gifts, or travel of more than nominal value (in excess of $100.00) from an individual, a group of individuals, vendors, contractors, suppliers of goods and/or services to the University, or from others seeking information from, or association with, the University.
  • A significant ownership interest is defined as any partnership, limited liability company, or professional corporation in which the employee or a family member is a partner, member, or shareholder with an ownership interest in excess of 5%.
  • A management function is described as being a trustee, director, general manager, partner, principal officer, key employee, consultant or agent of any entity other than a tax-exempt organization under Section 501c; and
  • A material interest is described as a personal interest that may affect decisions, has the capacity to influence an employee's consideration of, and vote on, a particular matter, or a personal interest is clearly present.
  • Any entity in which you or your family members own more than 35% of the combined voting power, profits interest, or beneficial interest, whether directly or indirectly, individually or collectively.

2.3.2 Employee - Faculty, Administration, and Staff whether full-time, part-time, or temporary / adjunct.

2.3.3 Family Member - Employee's spouse or domestic partner, ancestors (including parents and step-parents) and their spouses/domestic partners, siblings (including half-siblings and step-siblings) and their spouses/domestic partners, and children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren (whether natural, adopted, or step) and their spouses/domestic partners.

2.4 Many conflicts of interest do not necessarily imply intentional wrongdoing but must be recognized and managed nonetheless. For example, the use of either University resources (equipment, facilities, staff, or paid work time) or the University name for personal gain is prohibited.

2.5 Certain activities are generally not to be construed as conflicts of interest and need not be reported. These include: receiving royalties for published scholarly works and other writings (over the amount of any University-provided subvention); accepting honoraria for papers and lectures; accepting prizes and awards for professional achievement.\

2.6 Reporting Conflicts of Interest, Commitment and Loyalty

2.6.1 All employees are required to disclose to the University, as they arise and at minimum annually, all potential conflicts of interest, commitment or loyalty. Employees engaged in sponsored programs must disclose potential conflicts at the time of the grant proposal or issuance of the subcontract.

2.6.2 Senior Executives, Department Heads / Chairs, Directors, Deans, and all individuals in a leadership position These individuals must review and discuss reported conflicts of interest with their employees each year; reported conflicts and their resolution should then be reviewed at the appropriate Senior Executive Leadership level. Conflicts of commitment and loyalty must be eliminated; conflicts of interest must be managed or avoided. If agreement between the employee and the Senior Executive Leadership Level cannot be reached, the employee may seek review and decision by the President or his designee and such decision shall be final.

2.7 Disclosure of Potential Conflicts

2.7.1 Conflicts of interest can best be defused or eliminated by advance voluntary disclosure and independent review. Employee's must disclose potential conflicts of interest in writing and obtain advance approval from the Senior Executive Leadership Team (direct reports of the President) to proceed before initiating any transaction or engaging in any decision on behalf of the University. All conflict of interest disclosures are held in the strictest confidence possible and are protected under the University's Information Security policy. Failure to disclose potential conflicts may result in University disciplinary action in conformance with the Corrective Action policy

2.7.2 Except where an alternative disclosure and approval process is specifically provided for as set forth in this policy, employees must report to the Senior Executive Leadership Team any potential conflicts of interest that may affect transactions or decisions to which the University is party. Disclosure must be made as soon as the employee becomes aware of the potential conflict.

2.7.3 Designated employees (generally senior administrative, financial, or departmental heads) are required to annually disclose any actual or potential conflicts of interest by submitting a University disclosure statement to the appropriate University official specified at the time of the annual disclosure. The disclosure is designed to facilitate University compliance with IRS requirements that certain information be reported and made public on its annual information return, IRS Form 900. To avoid asking the employee to prepare multiple disclosure statements, the form provided seeks information in compliance with the University's Conflict of Interest policy.

3.0 AUTHORIZATION

The Director of Human Resources, in conjunction with the President or his designee, has the authority to change or modify this policy at any time, with or without notice, to maintain compliance with regulatory changes and Board of Trustee mandates.

4.0 ATTACHMENTS

Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form
Information Security policy
Code of Conduct policy


 


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