Conflict of Commitment/Conflict of Interest
Numerous regulations, laws, and policies provide guidance regarding 1) employees' participation in outside activities and the holding of financial interests in outside entities; 2) employees' disclosures of such activities and interests; 3) how UTHealth must gather and review this information; and 4) how UTHealth works with employees and supervisors to manage, reduce, or eliminate identified conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. While UTHealth recognizes the benefits that may be realized by employees sharing expertise and interacting with other organizations and industry, where such interactions would advance scientific knowledge in the public interest, all employees must proactively avoid situations that give even the appearance of affecting one's UTHealth's job duties and responsibilities.
Applicable policies include: UTHealth's Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment and Outside Activities Policy (HOOP 20) and UTHealth's Institutional Conflict of Interest Policy (HOOP 221) and The University of Texas System Systemwide Policy (UTS 180).
Conflicts can be real, or they can be perceived (only giving the appearance of a conflict). Either may raise concerns by the public, research sponsors, funding agencies, or donors. There are two types of conflicts that have the potential to adversely affect, or appear to affect, how you perform your job responsibilities: conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment.
- Conflict of interest: An outside activity or financial interest (or your family member’s activity or interest) that could directly or significantly affect the performance of your UTHealth responsibilities, with the potential to: 1) influence, or even appear to influence, your conduct or decisions in your job; 2) impair your independence of judgment in your job; and 3) induce you to inappropriately disclose confidential or proprietary information that you have obtained in your job. Conflicts of interest are generally issues of financial or personal gain.
- Conflict of commitment: Devoting time or effort to an outside activity that interferes with the fulfillment of your UTHealth job responsibilities, or using state-owned resources (computers, e-mail, supplies, equipment, personnel, laboratory or administrative space, etc.) without approval in connection with your personal outside employment, board service, or other outside activity. Conflicts of commitment are generally issues of time and resources.
Potential Conflicts - Checklist. Use this list to identify potential areas of risk for conflicts.
Decision Matrix for Faculty Outside Activities. An overview of the various categories of faculty outside activities. Some activities may be included within the "50-Day Threshold." Faculty may devote up to 50 days per fiscal year to activities that are deemed in advance to provide important elements of faculty development, are closely related to the university mission, and are beneficial to the university. Effort for this category of faculty activities may be allowable during regular work hours.
Clinician Relationships with Industry. An overview of the standards of conduct expected for clinicians (and employees in clinical departments) in their university relationships with for-profit companies that develop, market, and sell goods or services related to patient care activities. The Matrix also serves as a "best practice" guide for employees in other fields in their university relationships with vendors.
Management Plan. A Management Plan is needed if a proposed outside activity or financial interest would create a real or perceived conflict of interest or conflict of commitment with the employee's UTHealth job responsibilities. (Some conflicts may be determined to be unmanageable, and the outside activity or financial interest would not be allowed.) Plans are developed by the Senior Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs with the assistance of the supervisor or other department official after a formal conflict of interest/conflict of commitment review has been performed. Finalized Plans may require review by the Institutional Conflicts of Interest Committee. All Management Plans are approved and signed by the applicable institutional official.
Sunshine Act/Open Payments. The Social Security Act requires CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) to collect information from applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) in order to disclose their financial relationships with physicians and teaching hospitals. This government website provides an overview of such financial relationships, including payments for research activities, gifts, speaking fees, meals, and travel. Open Payments is the federally-run program that collects the information and makes it available to the public.