The Catholic University of America

Archived 8/23/12

Faculty Conflicts of Interest Policy


I. Introduction
The need for public trust in university research is extremely important. The public must have faith in research, particularly research funded from outside entities, for the vast amount of research that is conducted affects the personal aspects of peoples' lives, such as their health, the environment, food, medicine, daily contact with equipment and consumer goods, the quality of life, etc. It is reasonable, therefore, that the University formulate policies and procedures that guide its institutional research effects and minimize any potential conflicts of interest.

Several federal agencies, including Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation, have issued regulations requiring institutions receiving federal research money to establish written, implemented and enforced conflicts of interest policies as a prerequisite to such funding. The purpose of these regulations is to establish standards and procedures to be followed by CUA to ensure that the design, conduct, or reporting of research funded by the government will not be biased by any conflicting financial interest of those investigators responsible for the research.

The University seeks to comply with these regulations and to guide its research community in disclosing any potential conflicts when it applies for funding from the federal government. The following policy and procedures are intended to apply also to projects funded by other outside entities, whether public or private, and for this reason, they exceed the requirements of the federal regulations.

II. Definitions

A. Investigator means the principal investigator, co-principal investigators, and any other person involved in the research who is substantively responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research or educational activities funded or proposed for funding by an external entity.

B. Research means a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge in any academic discipline. The term also encompasses all studies conducted at the University including basic and applied research and product development.

C. 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:

  • Salary, royalties or other remuneration from the University;
  • Income from seminars, lectures or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit entities;
  • Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities;
  • An equity interest that, when aggregated for the investigator and the investigator's spouse and dependent children, meets both of the following tests: (1) does not exceed $10,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value, and (2) does not represent more than a 5% ownership interest in any single entity;
  • Salary, royalty or other payments that, when aggregated for the investigator and the investigator's spouse and dependent children, are not expected to exceed $10,000 during the next twelve month period.

D. Conflicts Coordinator means the Associate Provost for Research Programs.

III. Policy
It is the policy of the University that faculty and researchers who are investigators applying for or receiving research funding from any entity outside of the University disclose significant financial interests of such investigator (and his/her spouse and dependent children) which would reasonably appear to be affected by such research. The purpose of this policy is to identity, manage, reduce or eliminate such conflicts which could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct or reporting of the externally-funded research.

IV. Disclosure Form to Implement CUA Policy on Conflict of Interest
Each investigator must, on or before the date of an application for external sponsorship, submit to the Conflicts Coordinator a Disclosure Form to Implement CUA's Policy on Conflict of Interest. The Disclosure Form requires the full and truthful reporting of "significant financial interests" (previously defined). The Disclosure Form is available as an attachment to this policy under Additional References, or from the Office of Sponsored Programs.

The Disclosure Form shall be updated during the period of the award, at least annually or more often if new reportable significant financial interests are obtained. Each Disclosure Form shall by maintained by the Conflicts Coordinator for a period of at least three years after the date of submission of the final expenditures report to the external entity awarding the research funds. The Disclosure Forms will be considered confidential information and will only be shared with University officials on a need to know basis.

V. Review of Written Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest
In order to obtain the external funding, the Conflicts Coordinator must certify, on behalf of the University, that any identified conflicts of interest will be managed, reduced or eliminated prior to the institution's expenditure of funds under the award.

The Conflicts Coordinator shall collect each Disclosure Form and record the receipt in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). Failure of an investigator to complete and submit the Disclosure Form in a timely manner may result in a delay or failure to receive the external funding. If a Disclosure Form is not received on the date the application is filed for external funding, the OSP shall first notify the investigator and, if necessary, the Dean, in order to secure the Form. Continued failure of an investigator to file a Disclosure Form may result in University withdrawal of the application.

Disclosure Forms shall be first reviewed by the Conflicts Coordinator, who shall make a determination whether the investigator has disclosed a significant financial interest (a) that would appear to be affected by the research for which the external funding is sought and/or (b) in entities whose financial interests would reasonably appears to be affected by the research.

If the Conflicts Coordinator determines that a conflict of interest exists, then she or he shall meet with the investigator to develop a plan to manage, reduce or eliminate such conflict. If the investigator and Conflicts Coordinator are unable to resolve the conflicts, the Conflicts Coordinator shall forward the matter to the Dean, who shall attempt to develop a plan regarding the conflict. If no agreeable resolution is reached, the Dean shall forward the matter to the Provost, who shall make a final determination.

In all instances, the Conflicts Coordinator shall file and maintain Disclosure Forms, memos reflecting conflicts resolutions, and appeals determinations.

The Conflicts Coordinator may be required to notify the external agency of the existence of a conflicting interest and to assure the agency that the interest will be managed, reduced or eliminated. External funding may be suspended until the conflict is managed, reduced or eliminated.

VI. Benefits to Close Relatives*
By provision of the Academic Senate, members of the Faculties are requested to neither initiate nor participate in institutional decisions involving a direct benefit (initial appointment, retention, promotion, salary, leave of absence, etc.) to members of their immediate families

VII. Admission to Degree Programs
By provision of the Academic Senate, no member of a Faculty in the ranks of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Ordinary Professor, and no Officer of Administration (as specified by name in the Announcements of the University) will be admitted to a graduate degree program. Interpretation of this rule and authorization of exceptions to it are within the jurisdiction of the Graduate Board.



* Section VI and VII are holdovers from the March 24, 1980 Faculty Conflict of Interest Policy. These sections remain in effect. The remaining two sections of the 1980 policy are covered in other policies.