University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Policy Name: Conflict of Interest
Policy Number: LR 309.6
Effective Date: March 31, 2014
This UA Little Rock Conflict of Interest Policy is established pursuant to Section IV of University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Policy 330.1 which provides that “each campus of the university [shall] . . . establish conflict of interest policies applicable to employees at the campus.” It is intended to assure adequate disclosure of conflicts of interest and to provide a method for resolving such conflicts.
What is a Conflict of Interest?
Conflicts of interest are situations in which university employees may have the opportunity to influence university administrative, business, or academic decisions in ways that could lead to personal gain, give improper advantage to self or others, or interfere inappropriately with the preservation, generation, or public dissemination of knowledge such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual’s professional actions or decisions are influenced by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise. It can also be a conflict of interest for an individual to work for a competitor of the university. A conflict of interest depends on the situation, and not on the character or actions of the individual.
All employees are required to disclose any relationships or activities that might give rise to conflicts, or the appearance thereof, with their duties, responsibilities, or obligations to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Employees engaged in contracting for expenditure or receipt of funds shall not accept gifts or gratuities from persons or entities contracting with or otherwise engaged in business with the university except as allowed by the “Rules on Gifts” of the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
A potential conflict of interest may arise when a university employee’s extracurricular relationships interfere or compete with one another or with that individual’s relationship to the university. However, the nature of possible employee relationships outside the university varies widely. Therefore, a precise and exhaustive definition of all possible relationships with the potential for conflict of interest is not possible. Attachment A, however, offers a list of examples of potential conflicts of interest.
Conflicts of interest are not necessarily unwarranted, unethical, or illegal. Furthermore, conflicts of interest are not always avoidable.
Disclosures should be made as early as possible to enable those reviewing them to consider what action, if any, needs to be taken regarding any potential conflicts of interest. The failure to disclose situations that have the potential for or involve actual conflicts of interest, however, may be unethical and/or illegal.
Every UA Little Rock employee who has no conflict or potential conflict of interest to report shall read, sign, and retain a copy of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Conflict of Interest Statement form. Initially, no later than April 30, 2014, all employees affirming no conflict of interest must submit the form provided at the end of this policy statement to the department chair or supervisor who in turn will submit the form through normal administrative channels to the vice chancellor of the employee’s area of employment (e. g. Academic Affairs, Finance) or that person’s designee. Subsequently, on or before Oct. 1 each year, the chancellor or designee shall distribute the Conflict of Interest Policy to all employees with a request that each employee re-read the policy and report any changes in relationships that may lead to the need to disclose a potential conflict of interest. No additional action may be required.
Any change in relationships resulting in a potential conflict of interest must be filed with the appropriate department chair or supervisor no later than Oct. 31 annually.
New employees who join the university after Oct. 31 will submit the Conflict of Interest Statement form during the time of orientation and entry into the university personnel and payroll systems.
Disclosing Potential Conflicts of Interest
It is the responsibility of the individual who has entered into potentially conflicting relationships to disclose the nature and degree of such relationships. Therefore, situations that have the appearance of, potential for, or involve actual conflicts of interest must be reported, in writing, to the employee’s department chair or supervisor. A written disclosure, as entered on the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement form, should be made prior to any arrangements, whether verbal or written, are agreed upon concerning the potential conflict.
This disclosure policy provides a mechanism for:
- Identifying conflicting non-university relationships or activities.
- Informing those with a need to know about conflicting relationships or activities through disclosure.
- Taking steps to resolve a conflict.
In the event that disclosure reveals a situation in which the objectivity of an employee could reasonably be questioned or which might be competitive with the university, the department chair, or supervisor shall review the facts and attempt to resolve the matter informally with the employee. If the situation remains unresolved following this review, the situation may be forwarded to the next level of administrative review, if any, and then to the vice chancellor for consideration. The vice chancellor may accept, reject, or modify the previous recommendations.
At any point when the employee feels dissatisfied with the recommendation or proposed resolution, the employee may request that the chancellor appoint an appropriate ad hoc committee to review the matter. This ad hoc committee shall consider the recommendation(s), proposed resolution, and employee’s continuing concerns, and recommend steps to resolve the matter. If both the employee and the vice chancellor agree to and implement the recommendation of the committee, no further action is required. If the matter is not resolved, the matter is referred with all relevant concerns and recommendations attached to the chancellor.
Each stage of the review process will be completed within ten (10) work days except that in unusual circumstances the appropriate vice chancellor may authorize an extension.
The decision of the chancellor as to the resolution of the matter shall be final.
An employee who fails to make disclosures required by this policy, or who otherwise violates any of the provisions in this policy, may be subject to discipline.
Maintenance of Records
All conflict disclosures and records of actions taken by UA Little Rock with respect to each conflict shall be forwarded by the vice chancellors to the Department of Human Resources to be maintained there for at least three (3) years from the date the disclosure form is filed or the date of any document resolving the conflict, whichever is later. Such records may be subject to disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
Revised: Initial Policy, August 23, 2011; Revised March 31, 2014
Approved By: Chancellor Joel E. Anderson, Chancellor, August 23, 2011
Custodian: Office of Finance and Administration