ConflictS of Interest
Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment
Employees of Florida Atlantic University may engage in outside employment, consulting, and other similar activities. These activities further the dissemination and use of the knowledge and expertise developed at the University and may also advance the professional competence and reputation of the faculty and staff members. Thus, participation in outside activities may often serve the mission of the University in addition to benefiting individual employees. Such activities and the financial interests of faculty and staff members are of concern if they result in conflicts with the employees' duties and responsibilities to the University or the University’s mission. Faculty and staff members may participate in outside activities and hold financial interests as long as the activities and interests do not conflict with their duties and responsibilities and/or the mission of the University.
A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person has a personal interest in or receives a personal financial, economic, professional or personal gain or advantage of any kind from the person’s position with the University in a manner that may (or may appear to) inappropriately influence the person’s professional judgment, compromise the person’s abilities to carry out institutional responsibilities, adversely affect the educational programs and professional careers of individual students and faculty members, or misuse or re-allocate University personnel and resources for private gain. A conflict of commitment is a situation involving competing interests with an individual’s distribution of effort between a University appointment, obligation, and commitment and external professionally-related or personal activities. External activities may include teaching at another institution; consulting and other professional activities; and business activities related to outside entities including start-up companies. A conflict of commitment can arise when the external activities, which may be with or without compensation, burden or interfere with the employee’s primary obligations and commitments to the University.
Conflicts of interest include a variety of situations in which an employee is faced with conflicting loyalties. Traditionally of most concern are those situations in which regard for a private interest may lead to a disregard of the faculty or staff member’s duties toward the University and its mission. Most often these arise when personal economic interests conflict with the duties toward the institution. Conflicts may also arise in instances in which the faculty or staff member will not receive any economic benefit from the outside activity.
There are many regulations and laws that must be considered in the area of conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. As state employees, the faculty and staff of the University are bound by the Florida Code of Ethics. The University also has regulations and policies and has entered into collective bargaining agreements dealing with outside activities and conflict of interest. Further, as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the University and its employees must also be compliant with applicable NCAA bylaws and rules.
All FAU employees possessing at least a .5 appointment at the University, other than student employees, OPS employees and graduate teaching assistants, and any University employee engaged in the design, conduct, or reporting of research regardless of FTE, full-time, or part-time status are required to complete an outside activity report in a form directed by the University on or before September 30 of each year (or within thirty (30) days of the commencement of employment with FAU if this occurs after September 30). If an employee has no information to disclose, a report must still be completed. If a change in the information presented occurs prior to the next reporting date, a new disclosure report must be submitted for approval. The disclosure and approval must occur prior to the commencement of a new activity or interest. Separate disclosures are also required for all sponsored projects.
If the activity or interest commences without disclosure and approval, and a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment is later determined, the employee may be asked to cease or modify the activity or divest itself of the financial interest. If the failure to report involves an employee engaged in the design, conduct, or reporting of research, they may be subject to other sanctions.
The primary purpose of the disclosures is to identify those activities and interests that pose potential conflicts of interest and/or conflicts of commitment. Outside activity reports should be completed in Workday. There are two outside activity report forms--one form for reporting outside activity Outside Activity Report (Activity to Report) and one form for those who have no outside activity to report Outside Activity Report (No Activity to Report).