Conflict of Interest

Operations and General Administration

Responsibility: University Secretary
Authorization: Board of Governors
Approval Date: Feb 8, 2002
Amended: Dec 12, 2008

Purpose

To set forth policies and procedures in respect to the recognition, disclosure and resolution of conflicts of interest relative to all members of the University of Saskatchewan.

This policy does not replace any other University policies, but is intended to be exercised with other policies or collective agreements, which may address specific instances of conflict of interest.

Principles

  • To promote transparency, thereby increasing public trust in the University and the research enterprise.

  • To create a culture of trust in the University and the research community.

  • To ensure visibility and consistent application of measures to prevent and deal with conflict of interest.

Scope of this policy

This policy applies to everyone who is a member of the University of Saskatchewan.  A University member means all faculty, staff, trainees, students, and adjuncts of the University of Saskatchewan, whether fulltime, reduced, or part-time, and any other person while acting on behalf of or at the request of the University including, but not limited to members of a University committee (including the Senate and Board of Governors), persons giving advice or providing services to the University at the request of the University, and anyone involved in a decision-making process.

No member of the University will be discriminated against for being involved in a conflict of interest so long as the individual has acted in good faith and in accordance with this policy and any other related University policies.

Policy

A conflict of interest occurs when there is a divergence between a University member's private interests and professional work outside of the University and their obligations to the University such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the University members' professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise.

Conflict of interest is a breach of an obligation to the University that has the effect of advancing one's own interest or the interests of others in a way detrimental to the interests of, or potentially harmful to, the integrity of the University. Conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest must be avoided.

Since the possibilities for conflict of interest are almost limitless and cannot all be covered in procedures, University members are expected to conduct themselves at all times with the highest ethical standards in a manner which will bear the closest scrutiny, and are responsible for seeking guidance before embarking on activities which might be questionable.

Unit heads are responsible for taking immediate and appropriate action when they become aware of violations of the policy.

Responsibilities

Each University member has a responsibility to avoid conflicts of interest, and the appearance of conflict of interest, and to disclose to their unit head any conflict of interest situations.  It is important to note that some situations may arise that are not specifically defined by this policy; however, they must be reported to the unit head in order to determine if a conflict of interest exists.  All disclosures should be made in writing immediately upon discovery.

Procedures

  • Faculty, trainees, adjuncts, administrative, professional or technical staff and student members  who have disclosed a conflict of interest should, in consultation with their unit head, resolve the conflict of interest, which may require the discontinuance of the activities through which the conflict of interest will arise or has arisen.

  • Should a unit head believe a University member is involved in a conflict of interest, then the unit head is expected to request full disclosure in writing of the individual's relevant interests or an explanation that no conflict of interest exists.

  • A University member who is considering engaging in activities that may be a conflict of interest with respect to their involvement or commitment to the University are required to seek approval from their unit head prior to engaging in such activities. The approvals should then be forwarded to the appropriate vice-president.

  • Situations that cannot be resolved between the University member and the appropriate unit head shall be referred to the appropriate vice-president. When a conflict of interest exists, the University member in question may be requested to relinquish the responsibilities causing the conflict of interest.

  • All disclosures of a conflict of interest must be filed with the Univrsity member's unit head and/or dean, and a copy forwarded to the Human Resources Division.

  • All conflict of interest situations will be disclosed and appropriately managed prior to any commitment or expenditure of research funds.  Researchers are required to sign a declaration stating all known conflict of interests had been declared prior to the University authorizing the release of any research funds and that the researcher commits to notify their respective unit head should a conflict arise at a later point.

The following are illustrative of situations, which may lead to a conflict of interest.

  • A University member has a position or interest in an entity whereby she/he can exercise significant influence in transactions between the entity and the University. University members who are responsible for specifying or approving materials, equipment or services purchased by the University, must not have any financial interest, either direct or indirect (e.g. a family member, spouse, or friend), in the transaction. (See Policy titled: "Commercial Directorships held by University Faculty and Staff").

  • Contracting with the University as a supplier of materials, equipment or services.

  • Principal investigators, co-investigators and research personnel accepting ownership shares (free or discounted) in a company with which the University is contracting research services on their behalf.

  • Involvement in activities that conflict with a commitment to the assigned duties and responsibilities of the member's position with the University.

  • Transmitting to outsiders for personal gain, University supported work products, results, materials, property records or information.

  • Using for personal gain, or other unauthorized purposes, privileged information acquired in connection with the University member's University-supported activities. This privileged information includes, but is not limited to, academic, medical, personnel, or security records of individuals; anticipated material requirements or price actions; knowledge of possible new sites for University-supported operations; and knowledge of forthcoming programs or selections of contractors or subcontractors in advance of official announcements.

  • Acceptance of gratuities, gifts or special favors from entities or individuals with which the University does or may conduct business.

  • Extending gratuities or special favors to employees of sponsoring agencies, which may be interpreted as having any possibility of influencing the recipients in the conduct of their duties.

  • Misuse of University resources, including facilities, personnel, equipment, materials or confidential information for any purpose other than the performance of the individual's University duties. (See article 19.6.5 of the Faculty Collective Agreement).

  • Acceptance of employment, an official relationship or a consulting arrangement with another entity which has business relations with the University.

  • University members in a position to influence the appointment of family members, relatives and affiliates to positions at the University. (See Policy titled: "Employment Practices".) Also see articles 10.9, 13.5.2, 16.6.2 (v), 14.5.3 (v), 17.4.3 (v), and 15.13.3 (v) of the University of Saskatchewan - University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association Collective Agreement for conflict of interest relative to collegial matters.

  • Services performed by University members on their own accord or under the auspices of a company, in which they hold an interest, when the service can be performed through the University or as part of the University member's duties.

Non-compliance

The intent of this policy is to assist the University in the management of conflict of interest situations before they arise or when they become known.  The University expects that its members will comply fully with this policy, including all requirements for disclosure.  Failure to do so shall consititute grounds for disciplinary action in accordance with any applicable collective agreement, employment contract, or student academic or non-academic discipline regulations, other applicable disciplinary process.

Related Documents

There are no other documents associated with this policy.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Office of the University Secretary
Phone: 306-966-4632