Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, & Outside Activities
It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin to provide a transparent system of disclosure, approval and documentation of employees’ activities outside of the university that might otherwise raise concerns about conflicts of interest or conflicts of commitment.
HOP 5-2011 Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outside Activities provides the institutional framework to protect the credibility and reputation of the university and its faculty and staff when those employees are engaged in outside activities.
It is a companion policy to HOP 7-1210, Promoting Objectivity in Research by Managing, Reducing, or Eliminating Conflicts of Interest.
These two policies are the local expressions of UT System policies UTS 180 Conflicts of Interests, Conflicts of Commitment, and Outside Activities and UTS 175 Disclosure of Significant Financial Interests and Management and Reporting of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research, respectively.
Conflict of Interest
A significant outside interest of a university employee or one of the employee’s immediate family members that could directly or significantly affect the employee’s performance of the employee’s institutional responsibilities. The proper discharge of an employee’s university responsibilities could be directly or significantly affected if the employment, service, activity or interest: (1) might tend to influence the way the employee performs his or her university responsibilities, or the employee knows or should know the interest is or has been offered with the intent to influence the employee’s conduct or decisions; (2) could reasonably be expected to impair the employee’s judgment in performing his or her university responsibilities; or (3) might require or induce the employee to disclose confidential or proprietary information acquired through the performance of university responsibilities.
Conflict of Commitment
A state in which the time or effort that a university employee devotes to an outside activity directly or significantly interferes with the employee’s fulfillment of university responsibilities, or when the employee uses state property without authority in connection with the employee’s outside employment, board service or other activity (See Sec. 8, Regents’ Rule 30104). Exceeding the amount of total time permitted by UT System or university policy for outside activities creates the appearance of a conflict of commitment.
What do I need to do?
Do you do research?
You are required to complete a Financial Interest Disclosure (FID) and complete mandatory training. See the Office of Research Support website for more information. You may have ADDITIONAL reporting requirements under HOP 5-2011.
Disclosures for the previous calendar year are reviewed annually January through March. Request approval ASAP for any anticipated conflicts for current/upcoming calendar year. Approvers must act on all pending requests ASAP.
What do approvers do and when?
Approvers are anyone who has faculty and/or staff reporting to them. Approvers must log into the OAP to create their identity in the system; this only needs to be done one time. The procedure for logging in is described in the “Accessing the Outside Activity Portal & Getting Help” section of the Tool Tip Training document (PDF). It is recommended that approvers log into the OAP as soon as possible. Once their identity is established, then those who report to them can route prior approval requests and disclosures to them for action. Approvers should review “The Approval Portal” section in the Tool Tip Training document (PDF).
You don’t need prior approval for these activities unless …
Some activity is so integral to the mission of the university that it is encouraged, so long as the activity does not reasonably appear to create a conflict of interest and the amount of time committed does not interfere with the faculty member’s university duties and responsibilities. This may include activities such as the following:
- Serving on a federal, state or local government agency committee, panel or commission.
- Acting in an editorial capacity for a professional journal.
- Reviewing journal manuscripts, book manuscripts, grant or contract proposals.
- Attending and presenting talks at scholarly colloquia and conferences.
- Developing scholarly communications in books, journal articles, movies, television productions and similar works, even when such activities result in financial gain, consistent with intellectual property and other applicable UT System and university policies and guidelines.
- Serving as a committee member or an officer of a professional or scholarly organization.
- Entering the system is NOT required of all employees. If an employee does not have a request to make or activity to disclose, they may not have to enter the OAP at all unless they need to approve the request of someone else.
- Only faculty who earn more than $5,000 from outside activities AND whose activity may reasonably appear to be a conflict of interest and/or commitment need to report their compensation (explicitly stated in the guidance and in the OAP).
- Gifts of $250 need to be disclosed (see Government Code Chapter 572.023 Personal Financial Disclosure, Standards of Conduct, and Conflict of Interest as cited in RR 30104).