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Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

The University mission is enhanced by the sustained, active interaction of members of the University community with business, government, not-for-profit groups, professional societies, academic institutions, and other individuals and organizations. These many interactions and activities can, however, create the potential for Conflicts of Interest or Commitment in which University Employees' external activities or interests could influence—or could appear to influence—the manner or extent to which those individuals carry out their University responsibilities. Such influences—real or apparent—may undermine public and professional confidence in the University, diminish the University’s ability to accomplish its mission, and violate state or federal law.

Sundial on north lawn of the rendevoux building.

The key mechanism for conflict management is disclosure.

Disclosure allows the University and the Employee to determine whether a situation presents a Conflict of Interest or Commitment and take appropriate action based on the determination. All Employees, unless exempted, must annually complete and submit a Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment Disclosure Report. In addition, all Employees, including those exempted from the annual disclosure requirement, are required to make ad hoc disclosures of any actual, potential, or apparent conflicts of interest or commitment whenever they occur.

Annually, all Employees, unless exempted, must complete and submit a Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment Report in accordance with the reporting procedure established by the Chief Compliance Officer. The purpose of the annual disclosure is to solicit information that allows the University to determine whether an Employee has an actual, potential, or apparent conflict as defined in this policy.

The Employee’s completion of the annual disclosure certifies that:
1. The Employee does not have any interests or outside commitments which require disclosure;
2. The Employee has a potential Conflict of Interest or Conflict of Commitment which has been disclosed previously and there has been no change which requires an updated disclosure; or
3. The Employee has new interests which may create a Conflict of Interest or Conflict of Commitment and requires disclosure.

General Exemptions to Annual Disclosure Requirement
The following groups of Employees are exempt from the annual disclosure requirement:
1. Adjunct faculty members
2. Student Employees
3. Temporary or special project non-classified Employees

Employees who are not required to complete an annual disclosure must still submit a timely ad hoc disclosure if they have an actual, apparent, or potential conflict to report

Submit a Disclosure Form by dropping your document into the upload widget below.

If a conflict exists and is deemed manageable, the Supervisor will work with the Employee and other University officials to develop a written conflict management plan to manage, reduce, or eliminate the actual, potential, or apparent conflict. The purpose of the plan is to:
     1. Accurately describe the actual or apparent conflict;
     2. Create explicit agreements to protect against inappropriate influence or bias;
     3. Facilitate appropriate oversight; and,
     4. Protect the Employee, students, third parties, and the University.

Conflict management plans must be approved by the Employee’s supervisor and applicable Vice President.

Reach out to Jason Russell at (208) 282-5274 if you have any questions or need assistance.

         Submit a Management Plan by dropping your document into the upload widget below.

1. Related Outside Interest
An Employee or Family Member’s personal or Financial Interest in an entity or vendor engaged in University business or research activities. This may include but is not limited to Consulting arrangements, research activities, University contracts and agreements, or other business relationships.

2. Related Purchase/Sale Interest
An Employee or Family Member’s Financial Interest in an entity involved in a University purchase or sale whenever the Employee is in a position to recommend or approve the purchase or sale.

a. Requiring or recommending the Employee’s own textbook or other teaching aids, materials, software, equipment, or the like, to be used in connection with University instructional programs from which the Employee receives income may be permissible with disclosure and an approved conflict management plan.

3. Position with a Related Interest
The holding of an executive or officer position in, or serving as a member of, the board of directors of an entity engaged in University business or research activities.

4. Inventor Equity Interest and/or Business Participation
Participation as an employee, officer, board member, or owner in an entity which has, or wishes to have, rights to intellectual property invented or created in accordance with ISUPP 7010 Intellectual Property.

5. Favoritism and Relationships in the Workplace
The direct participation in a University decision which would or could appear to involve a direct benefit or detriment to a Family Member, including decisions regarding hiring, selection, promotion, wages, hours, or other conditions of employment.

6. Outside Supervisory Interest
Financial, business, or employment arrangements with students or direct reports to the Employee in Consulting, Professional Service, or commercial activities outside the University.

A Conflict of Commitment usually involves an issue of time allocation that creates a risk of an Employee dividing loyalty between the University and an outside entity or when an Employee’s non-University activities could, or could appear to, unreasonably interfere with the Employee’s loyalty or commitment to their University duties and responsibilities. Such interference can include, but is not limited to, performance of outside activities (i) during work hours or assigned schedule for the University, or (ii) to a degree that renders the Employee incapable of satisfactorily performing their responsibilities to the University. Conflicts of Commitment may occur even though an Employee’s outside activities involve comparatively little time.

1. Professional Service or Outside Commitments
Professional Service or outside commitments, whether paid or unpaid, that interfere or have the potential to interfere with the Employee’s University responsibilities.

a. This disclosure requirement does not include membership in or service to professional associations; reasonable attendance at professional meetings, courses, and workshops; membership on professional review or advisory panels; the giving of occasional presentations or participation in conferences; reviewing or editing scholarly publications; service to accreditation bodies; and other activities reasonably related to an Employee’s University duties, even when compensated, as long as they do not conflict or interfere with the timely performance of primary University duties.

2. Private Consulting and Outside Employment
a. Outside Academic Appointments, including visiting appointments during an approved leave of absence or brief transitional appointments. Employees may not have an academic appointment at another institution unless approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost. Serving as an affiliate faculty at another institution to serve on a graduate or thesis committee doesn’t require disclosure under COI policy so long as the time spent on such outside activities does not compromise time spent on University duties.

b. Foreign Government or Entity Affiliations
In many instances, federal law and guidance requires the University to report Gifts and other funds received from foreign (i.e., non-U.S.) sources. Various federal agencies and grant terms also require researchers and other University personnel to report all types of support received from, or professional relationships with, foreign persons or entities. For these reasons, while these activities may be deemed allowable following disclosure, Employees must disclose foreign support and affiliations, including participation in a foreign government-sponsored talent program, receiving funding from any foreign government or entity, or receiving any courtesy or honorary appointments that are held at foreign institutions. Serving as an external evaluator for doctoral dissertations at foreign institutions is generally permitted under COI policy so long as the time spent on such outside activities does not compromise time spent on University duties

It is the general policy of the University that no two persons of the same family (including spouse, child, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, niece, or nephew) may hold positions in which one of them is directly or indirectly responsible for recommendations or decisions involving the other in such matters as initial appointment, retention, promotion, salary, leave of absence, discipline, or any other job-related function of a supervisory nature.


Why do University employees have to complete a Conflict of Interest/Commitment?

It is for the benefit and protection of the individual employee to disclose and manage any real or perceived conflicts in order to avoid violations of University policies, and/or Federal regulations regarding sponsored research. Failure to complete and maintain an accurate disclosure form could lead to discipline up to and including termination. Failure to disclose research conflicts may also jeopardize the investigator's and the University's ability to receive federal grant funding.


When do I have to disclose?

Disclosures are required within the first thirty (30) days of employment, then annually during employee evaluations, and within 30 days of any material change to your circumstance.


Are all external interests automatically a conflict of interest?

No. External interests are not automatically considered a conflict of interest. The University recognizes that external activities consistent with the professional expertise of employees can enhance one’s professional development and enhance the academic experiences of the institution’s students.


What is the difference between actual and potential or perceived conflicts of interest?

An actual Conflict of Interest arises in a situation where financial or other personal or professional considerations compromise an individual’s objectivity, professional judgment, professional integrity, and/or ability to perform his or her responsibilities to the University. Perceived or potential Conflicts of Interest exist in situations where an individual member of the University community, a member of the individual’s family, or a close personal relation has financial interests, personal relationships, or professional associations with an outside individual or organization, such that his or her activities within the University could appear to be biased against the University by that interest or relationship.


Do I have to report financial interests and outside employment during the summer months?

Maybe. Certain financial interests must be reported that exceed $5,000 or 5% ownership interest over a 12-month period. Because all financial interests are reportable over a 12-month period, therefore, even interests earned in off-contract periods must be disclosed.


Outside employment, including consulting, undertaken during the summer should be reported if you are performing work that is paid by ISU during the off-contract (summer) period.

Can faculty use University resources for their outside activities?

No. Outside activities may not involve the use of University facilities, materials, services, personnel, or information without prior University approval and a written agreement between all parties.

How long does the disclosure and approval process take?

The process will vary based on each individual situation. Generally speaking, the process should only take a couple of weeks, unless there is a complex situation.

What is a management plan?

It is a document that outlines and implements measures to actively reduce, mitigate or eliminate an actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest/commitment held by an employee. The management plan can be found in the sections above.


When do I need to update the disclosure form?

You will need to update the form on an annual basis or within 30 days of a change to any existing outside interest(s) or acquiring a new interest.

If I have a conflict of interest, can I still take part in the activity?

No. You should not take part in the activity until the conflict has been disclosed and addressed, including the development of a Management Plan if necessary.

Will the content of my disclosure form be kept confidential?

Your disclosure will be maintained in confidence as far as possible. The information you submit will not be shared except with those who have a need to know. In addition to Idaho State University employees with a need to know, disclosure may be made to the government or other entity, to the extent required by law or court order.

The Management Plan form doesn’t ask the right questions about my situation. What should I do?

The final question in Section B asks: Other, please describe the situation, this is an open field to add any necessary information you choose. Please use this section to enter more detailed information. When in doubt, disclosure is always the best choice.

What if I am uncertain whether or not I need to disclose a particular outside activity or financial relationship?

If, after reading the questions on the disclosure form, you are unsure whether or not you should report an outside activity/financial interest, then you should err on the side of caution and disclose the information.


If an issue should arise in the future, having reported the activity/relationship offers some protection to you and the University in terms of how the matter is perceived by others. Failure to report an activity/relationship may be misinterpreted as a desire to hide the activity.

Who is required to submit a disclosure form?

All Employees, unless exempted, must annually complete and submit a Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment Disclosure Report. In addition, all Employees, including those exempted from the annual disclosure requirement, are required to make ad hoc disclosures of any actual, potential, or apparent conflicts of interest or commitment whenever they occur.


I have no conflicts to report. Must I still fill out the Conflicts of Interest Disclosure Form?

Yes, there is a field available for no actual or apparent conflict of interest/commitment to report.


As a tenured faculty member I perform consulting in accordance with this policy. Must I disclose my consulting as a potential conflict of interest?

Not usually. If you comply with the COI policy in that you limit the time to outside ISU duties, use no ISU resources or, if you do, create an agreement with ISU for using them, you do not need to report your consulting on the conflict of interest disclosure. However, the client must be informed that the Employee is acting as a private consultant, that the University is in no way party to the contract, and that the University is neither liable nor responsible for the performance thereof. Additionally, identification of the University as the Employee’s employer and of the Employee’s position at the University is permitted, provided that such identification is not used in a manner that implies sponsorship or endorsement by the University.

I am a full time ISU employee and I have a second, unrelated job on the weekends. Must I report this as a potential conflict of interest?



I am an academic department head. My spouse works as an adjunct in my department. Must I disclose this relationship?

Yes. A management plan detailing who the spouse will report to will be necessary. 


Will this mean that my spouse cannot work as an adjunct in my department?

It depends. If a suitable management plan can be established to assure that you do not make employment decisions concerning your spouse, they may continue to work as an adjunct in your department. However, if you are the only person who can reasonably supervise your spouse and make employment decisions, it may not be possible for your spouse to be employed in your department.


My daughter is employed as a research associate in a physics lab at ISU. I am an accountant in the English department. Must I disclose this relationship?

No. You have no participation in employment decisions concerning your daughter, so you need not disclose the relationship.


I am a tenured faculty member and my spouse is also a tenured faculty member in my department. I have no involvement in employment decisions concerning my spouse. Must I disclose this relationship?

No. But if circumstances change such as one of you chairing the department then a management plan will be necessary.


I am an assistant coach and I am engaged to marry an assistant coach for another ISU athletic team. I have no involvement in employment decisions concerning my fiancée. Must I disclose this relationship?



I am a full-time adjunct English composition instructor and I also provide private English composition tutoring. Must I disclose my tutoring business?



I am a Pharmacy faculty member and split my time between ISU and a hospital as part of licensure requirements, must I disclose this relationship?

Some Employees, particularly health sciences faculty, may be required to engage in clinical or other outside employment activities as part of licensure, regulatory, or professional program accreditation requirements. In cases where faculty members are fulfilling these professional obligations, their involvement shall be deemed in compliance with the COI policy provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. The Employee’s involvement is in accordance with any applicable licensing, regulatory, or accreditation guidelines;
  2. The Employee discloses their participation to and receives authorization from their supervisor prior to engaging in such activities; and
  3. The Employee’s University duties are not compromised by their involvement in external activities related to licensure requirements.


Can I tutor students in my classes as part of my tutoring business?



I am a full-adjunct and I also teach courses on the same subject for another on-line university. Must I report this work?



Can my office or department get training on the Conflict of Interest Policy?

Yes. Please complete an OGC training request form to set-up a training.

Contact Us

ADDRESS                                        PHONE & FAX

Office of General Counsel                        Phone: (208) 282-5274
Administration 321                                     Fax: (208) 282-4821
921 S. 8th Ave., STOP 8410                      Email: jasonrussell@isu.edu
Pocatello, ID 83209-8410