The University is committed to basic values of transparency, integrity of scholarship, and independence, and allows and encourages faculty and staff to engage in outside activities and relationships that enhance the mission of the University. Given this, potential conflicts of interest (COI) and conflicts of commitment (COC) are inevitable. Outside activities should not, however, interfere with an individual’s University obligations. Faculty and staff must not use their official University positions or influence to further gain or advancement for themselves, parents, siblings, spouse or partner, children, dependent relatives, or other personal associates, at the expense of the University.
Guidance on and authority for managing conflicts of interest and commitment are available from several sources, including the University Policy (see, e.g., SPG 201.65-1), Regents’ Bylaws (see, e.g., Bylaw 5.12 – Outside Employment), the State of Michigan Conflict of Interest Statute (P.A. 317 of 1968, Sec. 15.321), U-M Human Resources Procedures on Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment, and policies and reporting procedures developed by U-M units.
Other Policies Relevant to COI and COC
Other Policies Relevant to Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment — A supplement to the procedures for Standard Practice Guide 201.65-1, Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment
The University of Michigan’s Standard Practice Guide 201.65-1 Conflicts of Commitment and Conflicts of Commitment operates in conjunction with the following state law and University policies, as well as with unit policies and with other relevant federal and state law and University policies not listed here.
I. State of Michigan Statute
(P.A. 317 of 1968 State of Michigan Conflict of Interest Law )
The State of Michigan Conflict of Interest Law is set forth as Public Act 317 of 1968, as amended by Public Act 81 of 1984. The State Conflict of Interest Law prevents University employees, or enterprises in which they hold a stipulated interest, from contracting with the University without the explicit approval of the Board of Regents. To obtain such approval, the University employee must disclose any pecuniary interest in the contract, and the Regents must approve the contract by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the full Board membership in open session. The terms of the contract must be disclosed in the official minutes of the Board of Regents, including duration, financial consideration between parties, facilities and services of the University included in the contract, and the nature and degree of the assignment of the University employee for fulfillment of the contract.
II. Regental Bylaws
A. Bylaw 1.13 Business Transactions
Governs University compensation to Regents and University officers.
B. Bylaw 1.14 Regental and Executive/Senior Officer Conflict of Interest Policy
Describes when a Regent or executive/senior officer is considered to have a conflict of interest and the steps he or she must take in that event. The Bylaw is in addition to any obligations imposed on a Regent or executive/senior officer by state law (P.A. 1968, Nos. 317 and 318, as amended).
C. Bylaw 2.16 Gifts to Regents and University Employees
Prohibits individual Regents and University employees from accepting gifts of substantial value from a student enrolled in the University, from any person having business relations with the University, or on the basis of the Regent’s or employee’s position at the University.
D. Bylaw 3.10 Ownership of Patents, Copyrights, Computer Software, Property Rights, and Other
Describes the general guidelines under which ownership for patents, copyrights, computer software, or property rights accrue to the University; to the inventor, author, or creator; or to the University and the inventor, author, or creator by agreement.
E. Bylaw 5.12 Outside Employment
Governs permissible outside employment of full-time faculty members. The Bylaw states, “Each of the governing faculties of the University shall formulate for the guidance of its administrative officers such regulations, appropriate to the fields represented by it, as it may consider necessary to give effect to the general policy defined herein.” The governing faculties of the University may formulate regulations appropriate to the fields those faculties represent to provide guidance to its administrative officers in the implementation of this policy.
F. Bylaw 5.13 Governmental Activities
Describes University policy on University staff members’ holding public office (either elective or appointive).
III. University Standard Practice Guides (SPG)
A. SPG 201.23 Appointment of Relatives or Others with Close Personal or External Business Relationships; Procedures to Assure Equal Opportunity and to Avoid the Possibility of Favoritism (Nepotism)CDescribes University policy on appointment of individuals with close personal or external business relationships and procedures to assure equal opportunity and to avoid the possibility of favoritism.
B. SPG 201.65-0 Employment Outside the University
Permits University employees “to be employed outside the University,” but provides that “the outside employment must not detract from the performance of the duties and responsibilities of the University position, nor may it create a conflict of interest. The use of official position and influence to further inappropriate personal gain or that of families or associates is considered to be unacceptable behavior and in direct opposition to University policy. In a community as diverse and complex as the University, there is always the possibility that the pursuit of individual interests may result in a conflict with those of the University. This places an important responsibility on faculty and staff to recognize potential conflicts and prevent them.
C. SPG 201.85 Non-Appointment Related University Compensation
Governs payment of “special stipends,” which are defined as compensation to eligible University staff members who provide additional non-recurring services outside of their regular work schedule or assignment, the payment of honoraria, or the payment of moving and travel expenses in accordance with University policy, and generally limits dean or director approval of special stipends to no more than four days in any calendar month.
D. SPG 303.01 Implementation of Regents’ Policy Concerning Research Grants, Contracts, and Agreements
Establishes implementation SPG guidelines for the acceptability of restrictions on openness in research grants, contracts, and agreements. Faculty members and staff members must not enter into agreements that include a priori limitations on publications of research results, unless approved beforehand by the University. Project agreements that have publication restrictions that violate University policy are subject to the PAF-R process before they can be accepted (see orsp.umich.edu/sites/default/files/resource-download/paf-r.doc).
E. SPG 303.03 Policy Statement on the Integrity of Scholarship and Procedures for Investigating Allegations of Misconduct in the Pursuit of Scholarship and Research
Defines serious academic misconduct and establishes a procedure for investigating and reporting allegations of misconduct.
F. SPG 303.04 Revised Policy on Intellectual Properties: Including Their Disclosure, Commercialization, and Distribution of Revenues from Royalties and Sale of Equity Interests
Amplifies Regents Bylaw 3.10, which speaks to the objectives of the University’s technology transfer/intellectual property development activities. (See also Regents Bylaw 3.10 Ownership of Patents, Copyrights, Computer Software, Property Rights, and Other.)
G. SPG 507.01 General Policy and Procedures [Issued by Purchasing]
Explains the responsibility of each member of the University staff and of the Purchasing Department to ensure that the University does not knowingly enter into a purchase commitment that could result in a conflict of interest. See Section IV, “Ethics, Confidentiality, and Conflict of Interest.”
H. SPG 520.01 Acquisition, Use and Disposition of Property (Exclusive of Real Property) [Issued by Property Control Office]
Prohibits use of property acquired by and used in the University for University-supported activities for personal, for-profit activities or illegal activities.
I. SPG 601.28 Ownership of Copyrighted Works Created at or in Affiliation with the University of Michigan
Copyright includes a bundle of rights—including rights to ownership, reproduction or copying, preparation of derivative works, distribution, public display, and public performance. This policy sets forth general principles regarding this bundle of rights in the University context.
IV. Sponsored Projects Policies
Conflicts of Interest in Sponsored Projects and Technology Transfer
When a faculty researcher on a proposed sponsored project, a member of his or her immediate family, or any key investigator has a significant financial or management interest in a sponsored project, he or she must process a disclosure using the M-Inform disclosure system on Wolverine Access. Learn more about the outside interest disclosure process at research.umich.edu/conflict-of-interest/outside-interest-disclosure/.
When technology transfer is involved, the faculty researcher works with Innovation Partnerships at the U-M. Designated faculty committees review such disclosures to determine whether a conflict of interest exists and, if so, whether the conflict of interest can be managed. The committees develop conflict of interest management plans and recommend Regental action when required. The M-Inform disclosure and the relative background and definitions itself are available on the U-M Office of Research website. School and college policies may also require additional disclosures.
Approved COI/COC Unit Implementation Policies
- Architecture & Urban Planning Faculty
Architecture & Urban Planning Staff
- Art & Design Faculty
Art & Design Staff
- Business and Finance
- Dentistry Faculty
- Division of Public Safety and Security
- Education Faculty 2016
Education Staff 2018
- Engineering Faculty 2019
Engineering Staff Disclosure Form
- Environment and Sustainability Faculty
Environment and Sustainability Staff
- Executive Officers and Presidential Direct Reports
- Information Faculty 2009
Information Staff 2016
- Institute for Continuing Legal Education Staff
Institute for Continuing Legal Education Staff Disclosure Form
- Institute for Social Research Faculty and Staff 2021
- Kinesiology Faculty 2018
- Law Faculty 2015
- LSA Faculty
LSA Staff 2008
- Life Sciences Institute Faculty and Staff 2021
- Michigan Medicine
- Music, Theatre & Dance Faculty
Music, Theatre & Dance Staff
- Nursing Faculty 2018
Nursing Staff 2018
- Pharmacy Faculty
Pharmacy Staff 2008
- President Office Staff
- Provost Office for Deans and Directors
Provost Office Staff
- Public Health Faculty
Faculty Consultation Form
Public Health Staff
- Public Policy Faculty 2018
Public Policy Staff
- Rackham Graduate School Faculty
Rackham Graduate School Staff 2015
- Ross School of Business Faculty 2012
Ross School of Business Staff
- Social Work Faculty
Social Work Staff
- UMOR Faculty and Staff
- Student Publications
- University Audits
University Audits Disclosure Form
- University Library Librarians
University Library Staff
- University Musical Society
- University of Michigan Dearborn Faculty 2013
University of Michigan Dearborn Staff 2013
- University of Michigan Flint Faculty
University of Michigan Flint Staff
- Vice President for Communications
- Vice President for Development
- Vice President and General Counsel 2021
- Vice President for Government Relations
- Vice President and Secretary Staff
- Vice President for Student Affairs
Vice President for Student Affairs Disclosure Form
Tools for Developing Implementation Policies
- A Guide to Discussions in the Schools, Colleges, and Research Institutes
- Templates for Unit Implementation Policies (for Faculty and for Staff)
- Checklist of Elements in Unit Implementation Policies
Tools for Supervisors and Managers
- Steps to Consider After the President Approves Your Unit’s COI/COC Implementation Policy [PDF]
- Tutorial for FACULTY on Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment
- Tutorial for STAFF on Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment
- Template for Unit PowerPoint Presentations on Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment [PPT]
- Scenarios and Questions: A Training Tool [PDF]
- Basic Steps to Take After an Employee Discloses a Potential Conflict of Interest or Conflict of Commitment [PDF]
Frequently Asked Questions
General Questions about the Policy
Q: What constitutes a COI or COC?
A: It is neither possible nor necessary to define precisely what interests or activities will constitute a COI or COC in all circumstances. Instead, the Standard Practice Guide (SPG) requires disclosure of potential COIs or COCs, as defined in the SPG and in school, college, or unit implementing policies. Potential COIs and COCs are inevitable and are not, in and of themselves, problematic. Rather, it is important for faculty and staff to disclose potential COIs and COCs so that they can be evaluated and, if necessary, managed.
As defined in the SPG, a potential COI exists whenever personal, professional, commercial, or financial interests or activities outside of the University have the possibility (either in actuality or in appearance) of: (1) compromising a faculty or staff member’s judgment; (2) biasing the nature or direction of scholarly research; (3) influencing a faculty or staff member’s decision or behavior with respect to teaching and student affairs, appointments and promotions, uses of University resources, interactions with human subjects, or other matters of interest to the University; or (4) resulting in a personal or family member’s gain or advancement at the expense of the University. A potential COC exists when a faculty or staff member’s external relationships or activities have the possibility (either in actuality or in appearance) of interfering or competing with the University’s educational, research, or service missions, or with that individual’s ability or willingness to perform the full range of responsibilities associated with his or her position.
Each school, college, and unit (with faculty consultation and approval) is required to have procedures to evaluate disclosures of potential COIs or COCs to determine whether a potential conflict exists under the circumstances at issue, and if so, how to manage that potential conflict.
Some examples of potential COIs that might be disclosed, but may or may not require further action include, but are not limited to, situations in which: (1) a researcher conducting sponsored research expects to receive a large consulting fee from the pharmaceutical company whose product is being tested; (2) a faculty member is in a position to direct University business to his or her spouse’s company; (3) a faculty member expects to receive an honorarium for a lecture that the faculty member will be giving at a conference sponsored by a for-profit business; and (4) a staff member uses University resources to promote outside business interests. After the faculty member or staff member discloses a potential COI, under the unit’s implementation policy the appropriate University administrator(s) would evaluate the potential conflict and, if necessary, develop a plan to manage or eliminate the conflict.
Some examples of potential COCs that might be disclosed, but may or may not require further action include, but are not limited to, situations in which: (1) a faculty member intends to devote effort to preparing course materials for use at another university; (2) a staff member seeks to accept a position in an outside business; and (3) a faculty member wishes to engage in external research that would ordinarily have been conducted within the University. Again, following disclosure the appropriate University administrator(s) would evaluate the potential conflict and, if necessary, develop a plan to manage or eliminate it.
Q: Why does the SPG require faculty and staff to reveal a potential COI or COC?
A: Disclosure is important for several reasons. Disclosing and managing potential COIs or COCs, as needed, helps preserve the University’s and the individual faculty or staff member’s reputation for integrity within the higher education community. It also responds to the legitimate expectations placed upon a public university.
Disclosure may help protect a faculty or staff member from liability where federal or state law imposes an obligation to manage COIs or COCs. For example, federal law imposes such an obligation for federally sponsored research and disclosure in this area is already required. Because failure to comply with this obligation can jeopardize the University’s eligibility for federal funding, disclosure is in the best interest not only of the individual faculty or staff member involved, but of other members of the University community and the University itself.
Q: Why does the University want to know how I spend my time on weekends or vacation? Isn’t this an invasion of my privacy?
A: The University does not want to know how a faculty or staff member spends his or her time on weekends or vacations unless those activities or interests may, either in appearance or in actuality, interfere with, compromise, or bias the faculty or staff member’s fulfillment of his or her University obligations, or otherwise conflict with the University’s interests.
For faculty members, the obligation to disclose potential COCs stems not only from SPG 201.65-1, but also from Regents Bylaw 5.12. That Bylaw states that a “full-time member of the faculty shall not during the academic year be employed for remuneration by other agencies than the University except with approval of the proper University authorities” and that “[w]henever outside employment is permitted in connection with a ‘part-time’ appointment, the portion of time which is engaged by the University shall be stated in the appointment notice and in the budget.”
Q: Does this mean the University wants faculty and staff to cut back on their external activities?
A: The University encourages external activities and relationships that enhance the mission of the University. In fact, the SPG specifically recognizes the right of faculty and staff members to acquire and retain outside interests of a professional, personal, or economic nature. The SPG also acknowledges, however, the importance of ensuring that faculty and staff members’ outside interests are not in conflict with University interests or with the individual employee’s commitment to the University, to the University’s students, sponsors, patients, donors, or to other parties to whom the University has a duty.
Q: What steps does the University expect me to take to determine whether any of my family members are involved in activities that cause me to have a potential COI or COC with the University?
A: The SPG requires disclosure when faculty or staff members are aware of relevant family activities that create a potential COI. It is up to the unit to determine whether and when further inquiry is appropriate. The steps a faculty or staff member should take will depend on the circumstances. For example, where the potential conflict is significant, additional inquiries may be necessary to ensure that a faculty or staff member has made full disclosure of family interests or activities that may constitute a COI.
Q: What if a faculty or staff member is uncertain whether a given situation constitutes a potential COI or COC?
A: The faculty or staff member does not need to decide whether there is a conflict. Instead, whenever there is any possibility of a conflict, the individual should discuss the matter with the person designated by the unit to handle potential conflicts. That person may decide there is no potential conflict, that any potential conflict can be easily managed, or that a more ambitious management plan must be adopted.
Q: What if, as a faculty member or staff member, I don’t disclose a potential COI or COC in a timely manner because I was not aware a potential conflict existed? How will the University respond?
A: The faculty or staff member should disclose the potential conflict as soon as he or she realizes that disclosure may be warranted. The dean, director, or his or her designate will consider the circumstances in deciding how to respond. In many cases, he or she will find the faculty or staff member’s lack of awareness to be reasonable and understandable. In some cases, he or she may require that the faculty or staff member receive additional training or counseling. Where there is a serious actual conflict and the faculty or staff member’s failure to disclose appears unreasonable, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken.
Q: As a faculty member or staff member, if I disclose a potential COI or COC will I have a say in the plan that is developed to “manage” this conflict? Is the management plan “negotiable”?
A: The SPG states that the appropriate administrator(s) will develop a plan to manage a COI or COC “in consultation with the faculty or staff member.” Also, each unit must include procedures in its implementation policy for considering any concerns a faculty or staff member has about the scope or details of the conflict management plan. These procedures could involve a standing faculty committee and/or use existing dispute procedures.
Q: As a faculty member or staff member, what if I have questions? Whom can I contact for information?
A: For general questions, faculty and staff can contact the relevant deans’ offices of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. If you would like to suggest adding a question to the FAQ that is not answered here, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions regarding publications and sponsored project funding, faculty and staff can contact the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Disputes and Appeals
Q: As a faculty member or staff member, can I dispute a determination as to whether a potential COI or COC exists, and, if so, to whom can I dispute that determination?
A: A faculty or staff member can dispute any action or decision related to a potential COI or COC. The appropriate forum for dispute will depend upon existing University policies for handling faculty and staff disputes, as supplemented by any dispute procedures that the unit has developed. These unit dispute procedures must coordinate with, and cannot substitute for, existing University policies for handling disputes.
Q: As a faculty member or staff member who believes I have been wrongly accused of failing to adhere to a conflict management plan, is there a grievance procedure available to me?
A: A faculty or staff member can appeal actions or decisions related to COIs or COCs using existing University dispute or grievance policies for faculty and staff. Faculty or staff who wish to dispute decisions or actions of one of the two established COI committees – the Office of the Vice President for Research Conflict of Interest Review Committee and the Medical School Conflict of Interest Board – must follow the processes established by that committee. If a school, college, or unit has developed additional procedures for responding to disputes or appeals relating to COIs or COCs, those procedures must coordinate with, and cannot substitute for, existing University policies for handling disputes.
Q: As a faculty or staff member who has been disciplined for allegedly violating the COI/COC policy, how can I appeal the disciplinary action?
A: A faculty or staff member can appeal a disciplinary decision under existing University policies for handling faculty and staff disputes. If an individual school, college, or unit has adopted additional procedures for handling COI or COC disputes and appeals, the additional procedures must coordinate with, and may not substitute for, existing University policies for handling disputes.
Confidentiality of Records and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Questions
Q: If I disclose a potential COI or COC, will the information I provide be treated as confidential?
A: University administrators must respond appropriately to all potential COIs or COCs that arise under this policy. Within this context, they must make every reasonable effort to preserve confidentiality and protect the privacy of all parties in the course of investigating and managing a potential COI or COC. (See Regents Bylaw Bylaw 14.07 Privacy and Access to Information and SPG 201.46, Personnel Records – Collection, Retention, and Release.)
In some cases, an administrator must disclose a potential COI or COC to others. For example, if a conflict exists within the context of a federally sponsored project, the University must disclose the existence of that conflict to the federal government and must indicate whether it has managed that conflict. Also, the University may need to disclose certain information when responding to requests for information under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Q: Are all unit implementation policies across the University the same?
A: No. Because the University is so decentralized, a one-size-fits-all unit implementation policy is not feasible. Therefore, each unit has tailored its guidelines to the mission and activities of that unit. For example, attending business lunches may be an important part of some staff members’ responsibilities in certain units—but not in other units. Even where such lunches are part of a staff member’s responsibilities, the unit may have procedures in place to ensure that the staff member doesn’t improperly influence University decisions.
Q: Are written communications related to potential or actual COIs and COCs (e.g., email messages, memoranda, and written management plans) subject to release through FOIA?
A: FOIA permits persons to make requests to review or receive copies of University documents. While there are various exemptions to FOIA’s disclosure requirements, the courts have interpreted the exemptions narrowly. When no exemption applies, the University must provide the requested documents.
Because of its commitment to employee privacy, the University considers every reasonably applicable exemption to maintain confidentiality. This practice would, of course, apply to information generated by the implementation of COI/COC policies and procedures. The University would, for example, invoke an exemption for documents that contain private information that is personal in nature, as well as for communications within the University that discuss the proper approach for managing the conflict under consideration. Because the courts have interpreted FOIA exemptions narrowly, however, it is unlikely that the University will be permitted to protect all information pertaining to potential COIs and COCs. For example, courts typically require disclosure of information that is strictly factual in nature (e.g., the names of the principals of an entity doing business with the University), that is otherwise publicly available from another source (e.g., stockholder disclosure forms available through the Securities and Exchange Commission website), or that is received from third parties (e.g., vendor disclosures to the University through IRS Form W-9).
Questions Related to the Development of School, College, and Administrative Unit Implementation Policies
Q: How long do I need to keep records related to disclosures and conflict manage plans?
A: Often the documentation related to a potential conflict disclosure and its management fall into multiple record categories. For example, some of the documents may be “Business and Financial records” governed by the document retention requirements of SPG 604.01. This SPG mandates a 7-year retention period when the particular documents relate to sponsored research, and sets other retention periods for other types of business and financial records. Other documents may fall into the category of “Personnel Records” governed by the document retention requirements of SPG 201.46, although generally this would not be the case. See SPG 201.46 ¶ II.A.2.g. Rather, records related to the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment would in general be considered “Operating Unit records.” See SPG 201.46 ¶ II.E.2.
Currently there is not a University-wide standard for retention of Operating Unit records. However, after discussions with Human Resources and the Office of the General Counsel, the Provost recommends retaining Operating Unit records related to a potential conflict of interest or commitment that do not fall under SPG 201.46 orSPG 604.01 for a period of three years after the potential conflict no longer exists.
Once the retention period for a document has expired, the record keeper (generally, the unit conflict of interest/conflict of commitment manager) should purge the records from the files. Because the information within these records will usually be personal, private, and confidential, the records should be destroyed by shredding or other appropriate means to help ensure that the unit maintains confidentiality.
Q: What COI/COC related documentation should the schools, colleges, and administrative units maintain in their files (e.g., in personnel files)? Is a written record always necessary or appropriate?
A: The dean, director, or designate may decide on a case-by-case basis whether documentation is appropriate. This decision will depend upon such considerations as the nature of the potential or actual conflict under review; the University employee’s role at the University and with any external entity; and how long the potential conflict is expected to exist. As a general rule, the unit should record and retain information that documents the disclosure, the evaluation of that disclosure, and any plan developed to manage a potential conflict.
Questions from Academic Leaders and Supervisors
Q: What are the ways in which deans, directors, or supervisors can “manage” COIs or COCs?
A: The dean, director, or designate will select an appropriate means of managing a particular potential COI or COC. A non-exhaustive list of actions that he or she might take, depending on the circumstances, include:
- Deciding that no action is necessary;
- Documenting that the faculty or staff member disclosed a potential COI or COC and the dean or director (or his or designate) investigated the circumstances and decided no significant problem exists;
- Following up on potential COIs or COCs by making appropriate disclosures inside and outside the University;
- Modifying or limiting the faculty or staff member’s duties to minimize or eliminate the conflict;
- Securing the agreement of the faculty or staff member that he or she will modify or suspend outside activity, use of University resources, or other activities that create the potential conflict; or
- Prohibiting certain outside activity as inconsistent with University obligations.
Q: What type of sanctions can a dean of a school or college or a director of an administrative unit issue to a faculty member or a staff member who has violated the policy by failing to disclose a conflict? By failing to abide by a conflict management plan?
A: Violations of the policy may be considered misconduct and could lead to the full range of disciplinary sanctions, as the dean or director deems appropriate under the circumstances.
Q: As an administrator, what if I have questions? Whom can I contact for information?
A: For general questions, faculty and staff can contact the relevant dean’s offices or the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. If you would like to suggest adding a question to the FAQ that is not answered here, please contact email@example.com.
For questions regarding publications and sponsored project funding, faculty and staff can contact the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Questions Related to Coordination with Other University and External Policies
Q: The SPG procedures require the unit-level implementation procedures to address standards for the solicitation and acceptance of gifts. Which University policy covers gifts?
A: Regents Bylaw 2.16 Gifts to Regents and University Employees, states: “No Regent or University employee will accept any gift of substantial value from any student, or any person having business relations with the University, or anyone else based upon the Regent’s or employee’s position at the University.”
Q. How does the University’s COI and COC policy compare with the requirements of external agencies?
A: The University’s approach to addressing COIs and COCs is in compliance with agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Links are provided below to just a few such agency conflict policies:
Q: How will the process of disclosing a COI or COC dovetail with the University’s policy and procedures for sponsored projects?
A: Two faculty committees – the Office of the Vice President for Research Conflict of Interest Review Committee and the Medical School Conflict of Interest Board – with established procedures already exist to review disclosures of investigators’ significant financial or management interests in sponsored research and in intellectual property licenses to faculty start-ups. The SPG does not change the function of these committees. Although the SPG does not require academic units to establish additional faculty committees to review and manage disclosures, units may have chosen to do so.
Q: Some conflict of interest situations require Regental approval. What are they?
A: Under state law most contracts (direct and indirect) between the UM and a UM employee require Regents approval, including contracts for purchasing good and services.
As an example of a direct contract, if the UM wanted to purchase a product that a current UM employee manufactures in his or her basement, a Regents Action Item that informs the Regents of the proposed purchase would be required before the UM could finalize the contract. As an example of an indirect contract, if the UM wanted to purchase a product from a corporation for which a current UM employee has sole ownership or is an officer of, a Regents Action Item would be needed because the contract would be with the UM employee, albeit indirectly.
University Procurement (Purchasing, Stores, and Business Services) handles Regents Action Items for contracts for the purchase of goods and services. The Office of the Vice President for Research handles Regents Action Items for contracts involving sponsored research or licensing of University copyright and patent rights.
Q: Suppliers ask me what they need to do to comply with the University’s COI Rules. What should I tell them?
A: Under state law, the University may not contract, directly or indirectly, with its employees without Regent approval. The University interprets the definition of “indirect contracting” broadly, to include being an employee of an outside company, owning large amounts of stock in an outside company, being a member of the outside company’s board of directors, and having any other close relationship with an outside company.
The University relies upon each employee to comply with University and departmental policies limiting gifts from vendors and prohibiting employees from using their University positions for their own personal gain.
In addition, all potential and new suppliers and vendors must complete the University’s Vendor Certification Form, which Accounts Payable sends directly to them upon request. Among other things, the potential supplier or vendor must complete accurately the portion of the Form that requests disclosure of any potential for conflict. This portion of the form is a simple series of check boxes that asks the company to provide the name of any individual who both is a UM employee and is an owner in the company, is employed by the company, or serves as a member, trustee, or officer of the company’s board.
COI issues that arise in a contracting context require more information-gathering to identify the proper procedures to follow. When Procurement Services learns of a possible conflict in a proposed contract between the University and an outside entity, the designated staff member gathers the relevant information regarding the contract. If the director of Procurement Services or his or her designate decides that a potential conflict exists, the office must submit a Regent Action Item seeking Regent approval of the proposed contract. If Procurement Services is unclear whether a conflict exists, that office seeks advice from the Office of the General Counsel.
For more information regarding Payables and eBilling, see (http://www.procurement.umich.edu/howtopay.html); for information regarding how Procurement Services handles potential COIs, see the office’s conflict of interest policy (http://www.procurement.umich.edu/files/conflict_of_interest_policy.pdf).
For General Information or Assistance
- For general questions, faculty can contact the relevant dean’s office or the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at (734) 764-9290. Address specific questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Someone will make sure that the appropriate contact for your unit provides the answer to your question.
For Suggestions for FAQ’s
- If you would like to suggest additional questions for the COI/COC FAQs (above), please contact email@example.com.