General Conflict of Interest Standards
A conflict of interest situation may exist when personnel are in a position to influence the direction or decision of the university or one of its programs, or to inappropriately use university resources, in such a way that may lead to the personal gain (financial or otherwise) of the individual or of his or her immediate family or other designee.
Use of University Property
Nominal use of non-expendable university property is generally acceptable if the use occurs on BYU’s premises. Personal use of a university vehicle or other major capital equipment is not considered nominal. If there is any doubt as to whether the use of property is appropriate, an employee should consult line management.
Compensation to the university is appropriate when personal use is extensive, substantial, or when expendable supplies (including use of copy machines and postage) are consumed. Where extensive and/or substantial use of university equipment is involved, arrangements should be made with line management prior to usage. Extensive use of equipment and facilities should be covered by a reimbursement arrangement approved by the line management responsible for the equipment. This arrangement should be in writing for the protection of all involved parties. Some proposed personal uses may be so extensive that neither permission nor compensation can make such use appropriate.
Use for the benefit of a commercial or other private organization is inappropriate without approval from and compensation arrangements made with line management and the applicable dean or director.
Potential Conflict of Interest Situations
Circumstances with potential for conflicts of interest that should be the subject of disclosure to line management include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Influencing University Negotiations. Except with express authorization to do so, negotiating, influencing, or attempting to influence the negotiations of contracts or agreements between the university and a private or governmental organization. (See Employee-Vendor Policy)
- Inside Information. Use for personal gain or other unauthorized purpose of privileged information acquired in connection with university business, i.e., confidential personal records, knowledge of forthcoming programs, site selections, or the selection of contractors, etc., before public announcements.
- Commercial Use of "Know-How." Making beneficial commercial use of unpatentable or non-copyrightable information or other know-how or trade secrets developed on university time. (See Consulting or Moonlighting section of this policy.)
- Personal Privileges. Using a university position to obtain personal privileges or gain (except privileges available to all personnel) from persons or firms outside the university, or, without authorization, from the university itself. (See Business Gifts and Entertainment Policy.)
- University Affiliation and Private Projects. Permitting the inappropriate use of an individual's affiliation with the university to give credibility or other material support to a private undertaking. (See Advertising/Selling/Soliciting Policy--Use of University Name section)
This policy should be administered at the lowest possible level and in the context of the overall employment relationship.
The employee and line management should meet annually to discuss and evaluate the potential of any activity or involvement for creating a conflict of interest. This usually occurs in conjunction with (but is not limited to) the annual Performance Development Plan (PDP) review. The discussion will be noted on the online PDP.
If a potential conflict of interest is identified, the following steps should be taken:
- The employee and line management should collaborate to develop a written plan describing the manner in which the potential conflict will be reduced, eliminated, or appropriately managed. If the plan is more than incidental the employee and line management will sign the plan.
- If any deficiencies in the plan are noted, line management may be directed to negotiate a revised plan from the employee.
- If the employee and line management are unable to agree on a plan to resolve or manage a potential conflict of interest, the matter will be referred to the next level of line management for resolution.
- An individual who fails to disclose potential conflicts of interest or who fails to observe the adopted plan may be disciplined as would be the case for any other employment misconduct.
Primary responsibility for compliance with the objectives of this policy rests with the employee. An individual who fails to disclose potential conflicts of interest or who fails to observe the adopted plan may be disciplined as would be the case for any other employment misconduct.
When other university personnel become aware of apparent conflicts of interest involving those who do not report directly to them, the matter should be communicated to the individual's immediate line management, rather than to others.
Conflict of Time Commitment
A potential conflict of time commitment exists when activities external to the university exceed reasonable time limits or when primary professional responsibility is not to the university.
Except with written permission from line management, no individual should engage in the following activities:
- Serve as a line officer (in title or in fact) in a private business;
- Maintain a business or professional telephone listing;
- Maintain an off-campus office (other than in an individual's home);
- Be employed to teach or provide instructional or administrative services for other academic or non-academic institutions.
- Be involved in significant government service other than jury duty, state legislature, or weekend national guard or reserve; or
- Be employed in selling products or services not produced by the university.
Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Time Commitment
All full-time employees are responsible to inform line management of any outside professional or other activities that may constitute a conflict of time commitment. When conflicts occur, the individual and line management will develop a plan to reduce, eliminate, or manage such conflicts. (Implementation of the conflict of time section is the same or similar to the implementation of the Conflict of Interest Policy.)
Accommodation for Activities or Interests
When line management concludes that a certain activity is inappropriate because it reduces an individual's productivity below the level of expected job performance, but the individual nevertheless wishes to continue the activity, salary reduction and/or conversion from full-time to part-time status (if approved by the appropriate Vice President ) may represent an appropriate temporary solution.
Types of Conflict Time
Other University Employment
Additional employment by an organizational unit of the university or the Church, other than the unit in which a person is regularly employed, should take place only with the consent of line management of the unit in which the employee is regularly employed. (See Personnel Volunteer Policy, Supplemental Research Compensation for Externally Sponsored Work Policy.)
Moonlighting is defined as an activity which ordinarily only benefits the employee. Moonlighting should be distinguished from consulting, which includes only outside activity that brings professional enrichment and benefit (financial or otherwise) both to the consultant and to the university. (See Independent Contractors Policy.) While moonlighting is not prohibited, it is not encouraged. Examples of moonlighting include after-hours employment by other firms, farming, the operation of a part-time business, etc., under circumstances in which such additional income-producing activities are unrelated to or interfere with the university assignment.
Testifying in Court
No personnel may voluntarily testify as an expert witness adverse to the university, its affiliated sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or other institutions within the Church Education System or entities which are affiliated with, owned, or controlled by the Church. University personnel are not precluded in any way from testifying as a lay witness. For purposes of this policy, an expert witness is a witness testifying in an adversarial or administrative proceeding, whether retained for compensation or acting as a volunteer, and qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education to provide a scientific, technical, or other specialized opinion that will assist the finder of fact. A lay witness is a witness testifying in an adversarial or administrative proceeding who is not retained for compensation by a party, who is not testifying as an expert witness and who therefore only provides testimony concerning the facts of the case based upon firsthand knowledge.
Church Service Conflicts
In general, this policy also applies to the use of university time and/or property for Church service. At the same time, the university is sympathetic to the need for flexibility on this subject. The kinds of activities that would not ordinarily raise conflicts of interest or conflict of time commitment questions include use of an office during off-duty hours, working on Church assignments on a rare "emergency" basis during regular hours, or the compensated use of university property such as copying machines. Special circumstances should be discussed with line management when particular needs arise. (See Church Duties and University Obligations Policy.)
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