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Policies

Administration & Finance

Policy Number: 410

Policy: Conflict of Interest and Financial Disclosure

Date Adopted: 12/01/2006

Revision Date: 12/97, 12/06, 08/08, 08/12

References: MUS 770, MCA 2-2-1012-2-2022-2-304

Approved By: Royce C. Engstrom, President


I.          INTRODUCTION

The University of Montana-Missoula (UM or University) and its employees are committed to conducting all UM work-related activities in accordance with the highest integrity standards  and in full compliance with all ethical and conflict of interest legal requirements applicable to the University and its employees.  Interactions with the private sector carry an increased conflict of interest risk. This policy sets forth principles for identifying such potential conflicts and procedures for reviewing and addressing potential conflicts that might occur.

II.        POLICY

The University of Montana is committed to fulfilling its mission with integrity and in full compliance with state and federal ethics and conflicts of interest laws and regulations  and with Montana Board of Regents Policy.  A conflict of interest exists when an employee’s professional actions or decisions are or have been influenced by considerations of personal or financial gain.  Therefore, it is the policy of the University that in all of its activities – the education of students; the design, conduct, and reporting of research; the hiring and supervision of staff; the procurement of materials and services; and all other tasks incident to its mission – it shall endeavor to be free of undue influence or bias that may result in conflicts of interest.  This Policy is intended to enable employees to recognize potential conflicting interests and, thus, to protect themselves and the University from such conflicting interests through disclosure, evaluation, and if required, management or elimination of conflicts of interest.

In addition to this Policy, UM employees' ethical conduct is governed by:

  • Montana law,  Standards of Conduct – Code of Ethics, Title 2, Chapter 2, Part 1 M.C.A.  See http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/2_2_1.htm
  • Federal regulations governing sponsored research.  The National Institutes of Health requires institutions receiving funding to have a conflict of interest policy which complies with its regulations found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/compliance/42_CFR_50_Subpart_F.htm .  This Policy is intended to comply with those regulations.
  • The Montana University System Board of Regents Policy #770: Conflicts of Interest.  This UM Policy is intended to implement the requirements contained therein.  http://www.mus.edu/borpol/bor700/770.pdf
  • The Montana University System Board of Regents Policy #407: Approval of University System Employee Equity Interest and/or Business Participation http://www.mus.edu/borpol/bor400/407.pdf.
  • UM Policy 101.5: Faculty Consulting Policy and UM Policy 409: Compensated/Uncompensated Professional Activities Outside the University (Administrators & Other Contract Professionals).   No UM employee may undertake consulting or professional assignments which would result in a conflict of interest with assigned University duties.
  • UM Policy 401.3: Nepotism.  See http://www.umt.edu/policies/hr/nepotism.htm . In addition, all public employees of the State of Montana are governed by Standards of Conduct – Nepotism, Title 2, Chapter 2, Part 3, MCA.  See  http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/2_2_3.htm  
  • Collective Bargaining Agreement between The University of Montana University Faculty Association and the Montana University System (7/1/2005 – 6/30/2009), Section 12.220: Non-University Sponsored Professional Services; and Section12.300: Conflict of Interest.

III.       APPLICABILITY

This policy applies to all UM employees.  Employees are expected to review and understand their obligations under this Policy and to be familiar with their obligations under the laws, regulations and policies referenced in Section II of this Policy.

IV.       DEFINITIONS

A.        Conflict of Interest.  A Conflict of Interest occurs:

  • When a University employee has a personal interest in a matter that could compromise or impinge on  the employee’s  obligation to the University to exercise the employee’s best judgment in pursuit of the interest of the University and its students;
  • When a non-University activity unreasonably encroaches on the time an employee should devote to the affairs of the University; or
  • When an employee’s non-University activities unreasonably impinge on or compromise the loyalty or commitment to the employee’s University duties and responsibilities.
  • In sponsored research, when an Investigator's Significant Financial Interest could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting of such research.
  • In determining whether a Conflict of Interest exists, an important consideration is whether an independent observer might reasonably question whether the employee's professional actions or decisions are influenced by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise.

B.        Significant Financial Interest.  A Significant Financial Interest (SFI) consists of one or more of the following interests of the employee (and those of the employee's Immediate Family):

  • An equity interest (including stock, stock options, or other ownership interest) of $5,000 or greater in any publicly traded entity as determined through reference to public prices.
  • Any equity interest (including stock, stock options, or other ownership interest) in any non-publicly traded entity.
  • Remuneration for services including annual salary, royalties, consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship, or anything of monetary value (regardless of whether its value is readily ascertainable) that amount to $5,000 or more over the 12 months preceding the disclosure.
  • Intellectual property rights and interest(e.g., patents and copyrights), upon receipt of income related to such rights. 
  • Investigators also must disclose the occurrence of any reimbursed or sponsored travel (i.e., that which is paid on behalf of the Investigator and not reimbursed to the Investigator so that the exact monetary value may not be readily available), related to their institutional responsibilities; provided, however, that this disclosure requirement does not apply to travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a Federal, state, or local government agency, or an institution of higher education. The Investigator must disclose, at a minimum, the purpose of the trip, the identity of the sponsor/organizer, the destination, and the duration.

Significant Financial Interests does not include: 

  • Salary, royalties, or other remuneration received from or through the University;
  •  Intellectual property rights assigned to the University and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights;
  • Income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit entities;
  • Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities; or
  • Investments in and income from investment vehicles, such as  mutual funds, pension or other institutional investment fund over which the employee does not exercise control.

 C.              Immediate Family.  The employee’s spouse or domestic partner and dependent children as determined by the definitions of the Internal Revenue Service and State of Montana laws.

 D.              Investigator.  Principal Investigators, Project Director and all other UM employees who are responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of sponsored research. 

 E.              Sponsored Research.  Research, creative activities, scholarship, training and instructional projects involving funds, materials, or other compensation from outside sources under agreement.  Research in this context means a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge, including behavioral and social-science research.

 F.               Responsible Vice President.  The Vice President responsible for the employee’s organizational component of the University, except that in disclosures related to research, the Responsible Vice President shall be the Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship (VPRCS).

 G.             Investigator's Institutional Responsibilities.  An Investigator's professional responsibilities on behalf of the University, including, but not limited to: research, teaching, service, professional practice, and institutional review board or other institutional committee membership.

Policy Procedures

Administration & Finance

The University of Montana-Missoula

University Hall 126

406.243.4676 / fax: 406.243.5537

Carol.Buerman@umontana.edu