Research Integrity

Conflict of Commitment

The Conflict of Commitment Policy is outlined beginning on Page 210 of the 2014-2015 Ball State University Faculty and Professional Personnel Handbook. Faculty and staff should be aware of the key definitions and procedures for disclosing a conflict of commitment, and the repercussions for failing to disclose a conflict of commitment. A few of the key pieces of the policy are below.  

Article II, Section 2.1: Definition of a conflict of commitment

A "conflict of commitment" arises when a University employee's activities outside of the University affect--or appear reasonably likely to affect--the manner or extent to which the employee carries out his or her University responsibilities.

Article IV, Section 1: Obligation to identify and avoid or manage conflicts

University employees share an obligation to conduct their professional activities in a manner consistent with the University's mission and to conduct their relationships with each other and with the University with candor and integrity. Pursuant to that obligation, employees have a responsibility to identify and, when possible, avoid conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. When they cannot be avoided, employees must disclose conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment, and they must work with University officials to manage or resolve those conflicts.

Article V, Section 1: Obligation to disclose conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment

It is the responsibility of each employee to promptly and prospectively disclose a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment involving the affairs or activities of that employee.

Article V, Section 2: Procedure for disclosing conflicts

To disclose a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment, the employee must complete and file the disclosure form with his or her department head or other supervisor. If the employee is uncertain about his or her disclosure obligation, the employee should review the circumstances with his or her department head or other supervisor prior to making a formal disclosure. In such cases, the department head or other supervisor should then discuss the situation with the policy coordinator. If the department head or other supervisor and the policy coordinator agree that no conflict of interest or conflict of commitment exists, then no formal disclosure is required; however, the policy coordinator should maintain a record of the substance of his or her discussion with the department head or other supervisor. In all other cases, the employee should complete the disclosure form and submit it to his or her department head or other supervisor.

Notwithstanding the above, any University employee who is unsure whether he or she has a disclosure obligation or who has other questions about the policy's application may request advice directly from the policy coordinator without being required to disclose his or her name or identifying details concerning a potential conflict of interest or conflict of commitment. A college, department or other administrative unit may also request advice from the policy coordinator about a potential conflict of interest or conflict of commitment, providing no more identifying information than is necessary for such purpose except as required by law or University policy.

Article V, Section 3: Procedure of assessing, eliminating, or managing conflicts

The department head or other supervisor, after consulting with the employee, should: (i) sign the disclosure form and, where possible, include written recommendations of conditions or restrictions which might be used to manage, reduce or eliminate the actual or perceived conflict, and (ii) forward the disclosure form to the dean or appropriate official for written endorsement and/or comment.

Examples of measures that, depending on the facts and circumstances, might be used to manage or resolve conflicts include: (i) monitoring of the outside activity by an independent reviewer; (ii) disqualifying the employee from participating in decisions that might affect the employee's financial interests; (iii) divestiture of the financial interest which creates the conflict; and (iv) severance of any relationships that create the actual or potential conflict.

The disclosure form, along with the recommendations of how the conflict can be managed, reduced or eliminated, should then be submitted to the policy coordinator. If the policy coordinator determines that the proposed resolution or management of the conflict is consistent with applicable University policies, including additional college, department, or other administrative unit policies, if any, the policy coordinator will add his or her written endorsement and/or comments and forward the disclosure form to the President for final approval.

Article V, Section 4: Procedure of resolving disagreements

If agreement for managing or resolving the conflict is not obtained among all of the parties participating in the procedures under Section V(3), the policy coordinator will convene an ad hoc advisory committee to review the facts and circumstances and recommend a solution. This committee will consist of a representative appointed by the dean or comparable official, a representative appointed by the chairperson of the Academic Freedom and Ethics Committee, and a third member appointed by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs who will act as chairperson. The policy coordinator will serve as a non-voting ex officio member. The employee has the right to appear before the committee, and/or to provide additional information. Also, the committee may request additional information from the employee and others to aid it in making its findings and recommendations. The written findings and recommendations of the committee will be forwarded to the President who will make the final decision on the matter.

Article V, Section 6: Enforcement

Employees who violate this policy by either: (i) failing to make a required disclosure of a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment, or (ii) failing to comply with conditions or restrictions imposed by the University on their outside activities or affairs for the purpose of eliminating, reducing or managing a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment, may be subject to disciplinary action and appropriate sanctions in accordance with the provisions of the Faculty and Professional Personnel Handbook. If the violation involves a government-funded sponsored program or project, the University may be obligated under federal, state, or local law to report any corrective action taken.

Attention: As many of you are aware, the Ball State Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment policies, procedures, and forms are being updated and revised in order to meet current changes in various local, state, and federal regulations. While this process is occurring, if you have a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment you need to disclose, please use this form and fill in the information to the best of your knowledge. Please note that any conflict of interest that is governed by the Indiana Conflict of Interest statute will still need to be filed with either the Business and Auxiliary Services Office (conflicts of interest related to business contracting issues) or the Provost's Office (conflicts of interest involving academic contracting issues). Any other non-federally funded research conflict of interest or conflict of commitment disclosure will be filed with the Office of Research Integrity. At this time, please only file a disclosure form for actual or pending conflict(s). 

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