Investigators with Government-Sponsored Activities
The purpose of this conflict of interest policy is to protect The College of Wooster’s interest when it is contemplating entering interests of an investigator. Investigators must not use their positions or knowledge to improperly influence decisions for their personal benefit or for the benefit of their friends or relatives.
In any case where a conflict of interest exists, or may exist, or the appearance of a conflict of interest may exist, it is the duty of each person to disclose to the College his or her significant financial interests and significant financial interests that may accrue to his or her relatives. A conflict of interest does not necessarily mean that the situation is improper, but just that evaluation, approval and/or additional oversight may be required. This policy is intended to supplement other policies presented in the Faculty Handbook or by Human Resources.
Disclosure of a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest shall be made to the Office of Academic Affairs and shall include all material facts, circumstances, relationships and transactions. Investigators must complete a disclosure form at least annually and must submit an updated form in a timely manner for all new reportable conflicts of interest. The existence of a conflict of interest does not necessarily mean that the situation is improper, but just that evaluation, approval, and/or additional oversight may be required.
- Acceptance of Gifts, Loans, Etc.
No investigator shall solicit or accept money, gifts, travel, loans, advances, favors, special discounts, or service of material value that might reasonably affect or appear to affect their judgment while conducting business on behalf of the College unless the investigator has received prior written permission from the Dean for Faculty Development.
- Application for a Sponsored Programs
Before application is made for a government-sponsored project:
- Everyone meeting the definition of “investigator” shall disclose all significant financial interests of the investigator and the investigator’s relatives.
- The Dean for Faculty Development must agree that all disclosed conflicts can be managed, reduced, or eliminated before funds will be spent.
- Review of Disclosures of Conflict of Interest
The Dean for Faculty Development shall be responsible for reviewing completed disclosure forms and working with investigators to manage, reduce, or eliminate the conflict of interest. If the Dean and investigator are unable to resolve the conflict of interest, the matter shall be forwarded to the Provost for a final determination. Examples of conditions or restrictions that might be imposed in the case of conflict of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Public disclosure of the conflict of interest and significant financial interests;
- Monitoring of research by independent reviewers;
- Modification of the research plan;
- Disqualification from participation in the portion of sponsor-funded research that would be affected by significant financial interests;
- Divesture of significant financial interests; or
- Severance of relationships that create conflicts. The Dean for Faculty Development shall be responsible for complying with requirements of external granting agencies regarding management and notification of conflicts of interest.
- Failure to Disclose Conflicts of Interest
If the College has reasonable cause to believe an investigator has failed to disclose actual or possible conflicts of interest, the Dean for Faculty Development shall inform the investigator of the basis for such belief and provide an opportunity to explain the alleged failure.
If, after hearing the explanation and making further investigation as warranted by the circumstances, the College determines that the investigator has failed to disclose an actual or possible conflict of interest, the Provost shall take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action.
Failure to disclose conflicts of interest related to sponsored programs may result in the College delaying or refusing to accept the funding. Failure to disclose conflicts of interest before entering into any other contract or transaction may result in cancellation of the contract or transaction. Investigators may appeal disciplinary actions using grievance procedures and the Faculty Grievance Committee.
Disclosure forms will be considered confidential information and will be shared only on a need-to-know basis.
- Record Retention
The office of the Dean for Faculty Development is responsible for maintaining disclosure forms and all related memos, agreements, notices and other actions to resolve conflicts of interest.
Disclosure Forms prepared by investigators associated with sponsored projects and all records related to resolution of conflicts of interest shall be maintained for at least three years after the later of (a) the date the final report on expenditures is submitted to the grantor agency or (b) resolution of any action by the grantor involving those records.
Compensation arrangements may be either cash or in-kind and may be direct or indirect. It includes but is not limited to salary, fees, honoraria, licensing or royalty income, gifts, spending accounts under the person’s control.
Investigator means the principal investigator/project director, co-principal investigators/coprincipal project directors, and any other person who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research or activities funded by an external grantor agency.
Relatives include a person’s spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters (including half-brothers and half-sister), brothers- and sisters-in-law, mother- and father-in-law, nieces and nephews, and any other person living in the same household as the investigator.
Significant Financial Interest is any interest that confers a financial or proprietary interest and is not excluded below. These interests may be direct or indirect; cash or in-kind; from past, present or potential future relationships; and are considered in the aggregate for the investigator and all relatives. Types of financial or proprietary interest include, but are not limited to, salary or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria), equity interest (e.g., stock, stock options or other ownership interests), and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights).
The following will not be considered a “significant interest”:
- Honoraria and reimbursement of actual business expenses from seminars, lectures, or short-term engagements sponsored by other public or nonprofit entities;
- Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for other public or nonprofit entities;
- An equity interest that, when aggregated for the individual and individual’s relatives, meets both of the following tests: (a) it does not exceed $10,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measure of fair value; and (b) does not represent more than 5% ownership interest in any single entity;
Sponsored programs are programs or projects that are supported by a source external to the College through the provision of cash, in-kind services, or property. They usually include one or more of the following:
- Awarded in response to an application or proposal submitted by a person at the College;
- Have a formal, signed agreement;
- Include restrictions on the use of funds awarded, including budgets and conditions;
- Have funds available for a limited time period;
- Are outside the College’s normal operating budget;
- Require periodic financial and/or programmatic reports.
- Have an expectation of performance, results, deliverables, or outcomes.
Sponsored programs do not include:
- Financial aid for students;
- Gifts and bequests to the College;
- Direct payments to individuals, such as fellowships or honoraria.
Revised: May 4, 2010