Conflict of Interest / Compensated Outside Services

While pursuing its academic mission to generate and apply knowledge through teaching, research, and public service, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas maintains a firm commitment to the principles of integrity and transparency. The University has developed internal policies and procedures consistent with state and federal regulations to ensure that employees do not engage in any activities that place them in a conflict with their official responsibilities and any other interests or obligations.

Overview

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas recognizes that employee involvement in activities and cultivation of relationships outside the university enhances the institutional mission. External business and service contacts facilitate innovation, collaboration, and support. Accordingly, UNLV allows and encourages its faculty and staff to pursue external opportunities. All individuals are expected to act in the best interest of the University and the public it serves, and to uphold the highest standards of professional and fiscal conduct.

A conflict of interest is a situation in which an employee’s professional judgment and objectivity may be compromised or biased by financial or other personal considerations. A conflict of commitment or effort occurs when an employee’s participation in outside activities, whether paid or unpaid, involves a commitment of time that may interfere with his or her ability to meet institutional responsibilities. Since UNLV supports employee participation in outside activities and relationships that further the mission of the University, potential conflicts of interest and/or commitment are unavoidable. These external connections should not interfere with an individual’s official duties and obligations to the University. Faculty and staff should never use their official position or influence to acquire financial rewards or other gain for themselves, their relatives, friends, or personal associates, at the expense of the University.

Because outside interactions are accompanied by an increased potential for conflict of interest and/or commitment, the University has developed a robust set of policies and procedures consistent with applicable state and federal regulations for identifying, reducing, managing, and/or eliminating such conflicts.

Policies and Guidelines

The institutional Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Policy is to ensure that the University is in compliance with federal requirements, Nevada Revised Statutes, and NSHE Code while maintaining the public’s confidence in the integrity of research and other activities of the institution. UNLV faculty, staff, and student employees are encouraged to participate in outside activities, provided they do not interfere with the fundamental obligation to act in the best interest of the university.

The COI/COS Policy enables university employees to recognize and disclose outside activities (compensated or not) that may create a conflict of interest. Potential conflicts must be properly reviewed and, if necessary, managed or eliminated without detriment to the reputation, credibility, or position of the institution and individual(s) concerned.

Internal Policies and Guidelines

External Policies and Guidelines

Disclosure Process

The University relies on a process of disclosure through self-reporting. The act of disclosure is not suggestive of any impropriety; on the contrary, it is a demonstration of transparency. Unless conflicts of interest and/or compensated outside services are disclosed in a timely and clear manner, they cannot be reviewed and managed as appropriate. The University is not primarily concerned about the amount of compensation received, but rather about time commitments and potential conflicts of financial interest, particularly significant ones.

The conflict of interest/commitment disclosure process at UNLV primarily involves two formal actions:

  1. Request by a faculty or staff member for approval of an outside activity using the Outside Activity Request Form

    Some routine academic activities are considered pre-approved and do not require completion of the Request Form. The Outside Activity Request Form must be completed and forwarded to the supervisor for approval each time a new external activity that does not meet the requirements for pre-approval is undertaken. An outline of the outside activity request process is provided below.

    Guidelines on Pre-Approved Activities Outside Activity Request Process

  2. Completion of the Annual Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Disclosure Form by all academic and administrative faculty (professional staff) members

    On an annual basis, and prior to submission for funding of any new project that may pose a conflict of interest, all academic and administrative faculty (professional staff) members must provide information on the nature and extent of their compensated outside services and potential conflicts of interest/financial interest for the preceding 12 months using the Annual Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Disclosure Form. All academic faculty and professional staff are required to complete the Disclosure Form whether or not they engaged in any outside activities. The form may be previewed at the link below. Aggregate institutional data on conflict of interest and compensated outside services are reported to the Nevada System of Higher Education annually.

    At the time of the annual reporting period (typically in February), academic faculty and professional staff required to provide a disclosure are sent a personalized link to the electronic Disclosure Form by email. Individuals needing to complete a Disclosure Form outside of the usual reporting period should send a request for a link to the electronic form to coi@unlv.edu.

    Supervisors/department chairs are responsible for ensuring that all Disclosure Forms are received by the due date, which is set annually by the Executive Vice President and Provost.

    Preview of Annual Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Disclosure Form

Working with Dynamic PDF Forms

The Outside Activity Request Form is an interactive PDF form and requires a digital signature. More information on working with dynamic PDF forms is available below.

Oversight Committee

UNLV’s Conflict of Interest Rules and Procedures  authorize the Conflict of Interest Oversight Committee (COIOC) to implement two broad functions:

  1. To review significant financial interests disclosed by federally funded investigators, and,
  2. To serve as the “review committee” (NSHE Code Title 4 Chapter 3, Section 9.8) to hear appeals from faculty members’ requests for outside activity that have been denied by a supervisor.

Current Committee Membership

  • Brenda Buck, School of Life Sciences
  • Lori Ciccone, Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Bill Culbreth, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Tondra De, Office of Faculty Affairs
  • Zach Miles, Office of Economic Development
  • Lori Olafson, Office of Research Integrity
  • Ngai Pindell, Office of Faculty Affairs
  • Wonda Riner, School of Medicine
  • Joel Snyder, Department of Psychology

Advisory Support

  • Susan O'Brien, Office of General Counsel

Training

Training workshops on the topic of conflict of interest/compensated outside services and on issues related to the ethical conduct of research are regularly offered by the Office of Research Integrity.

Educational resources are also available online through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI):

Definitions of Terms

Compensated Outside Services (COS)

Includes outside compensated work or scholarly services performed by a university employee, but does not include income derived solely from passive investments. Provision of compensated outside services is recognized as a legitimate activity unless specifically prohibited by an employee's contract of employment. Compensated outside service is not considered appropriate when it interferes with the regular work of the university employee; involves unauthorized use of university facilities, personnel, or other resources; subjects other individuals or companies engaged in private practice to unfair competition; violates the general requirements of Nevada Revised Statues 281A.400 -281A.410; or involves a conflict of interest specified by NSHE or university policy.

​​​​​​​Conflict of Interest (COI)

Any outside activity or interest that may, or may appear to, adversely affect, compromise, or be incompatible with the obligations of an employee in the institution. Conflict of interest encompasses any situation in which an employee of the university uses, or is in a position to use, his or her influence and authority within the university to advance his or her own personal or financial interest, or the personal or financial interests of individuals in the employee's household; persons to whom the employee is related by blood, adoption or marriage within the third degree of consanguinity; or persons with whom the employee has substantial and continuing outside business relationships. The bias of such conflicts could conceivably inappropriately affect the goals of research, instructional, or administrative programs. The education of students, the methods of analysis and interpretation of research data, the hiring of staff, procurement of materials, and other administrative tasks at the University must be free of undue influence of outside interests. For the purposes of reporting COIs to federal funding agencies, the federal definition(s) supersedes the above definition and will be used to determine which COIs must be reported.

Designated Official

The institutional official(s) who have been given authority to review and manage all disclosures of significant financial interests. This includes determining whether any significant financial interests relate to federal funding; determining whether a financial conflict of interest exists; and, if so, developing and implementing a management plan that specifies actions that have been, and shall be, taken to manage such financial conflict of interest. At UNLV the designated official is the Executive Vice President and Provost.

​​​​​​​Employee

Any person who is employed full- or part-time by the University and includes but is not limited to faculty, staff, postdoctoral appointees, and students. Individuals or “investigators” (as defined by federal awards who are not paid but work as volunteers on funded projects) are also considered employees.

​​​​​​​Excessive Compensated Outside Services

Compensated outside service that exceeds the limits set forth in NSHE’s policy on Compensated Outside Professional Service (Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 9). B-contract (9-month) faculty may engage in outside service during contractual time, but this activity must not occupy more than the equivalent of one day’s time per work week (20% of contractual time). Employees on 12-month contracts must take annual leave or furlough if providing outside service during the standard work week.

​​​​​​​Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI)

A significant financial interest that could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting of funded research or affect the performance of duties for or by any UNLV/NSHE employee.

​​​​​​​Financial Interest

Anything of monetary value, including but not limited to, salary, or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria); equity interests (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interests); and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights).

​​​​​​​Investigator

The principal Investigator (PI), project director (PD), and/or any other person at the University who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of a sponsored project which may include collaborators or consultants. It should be noted that the guidelines that apply to investigators also apply to individuals in the investigator’s household; persons to whom the investigator is related by blood, adoption, or marriage within the third degree of consanguinity as defined by NSHE Code Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 7 (Nepotism); or persons with whom the investigator has substantial and continuing outside business relationships. Hence, for the purposes of this policy’s disclosure requirement, the term “investigator” refers to the above individuals related to or working with the investigator.

Significant Financial Interest

(1) A financial interest consisting of one or more of the following interests of the Investigator (and those of the Investigator’s spouse and dependent children) that reasonably appears to be related to the Investigator’s University responsibilities:

  1. With regard to any publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure and the value of any equity interest in the entity as of the date of disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000. For purposes of this definition, remuneration includes salary and any payment for services not otherwise identified as salary (e.g., consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship); equity interest includes any stock, stock option, or other ownership interest, as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value;
  2. With regard to any non-publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000, or when the Investigator (or the Investigator's spouse or dependent children) holds any equity interest (e.g., stock, stock option, or other ownership interest); or
  3. Intellectual property rights and interests (e.g., patents, copyrights), upon receipt of income related to such rights and interests.

(2) Investigators also must disclose the occurrence of any reimbursed or sponsored travel (i.e., that is paid on behalf of the Investigator) related to their University responsibilities; however, this disclosure requirement does not apply to travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a Federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education. This disclosure will include, at a minimum, the purpose of the trip, the identity of the sponsor/organizer, the destination, and the duration. The University official(s) will determine if further information is needed, including a determination or disclosure of monetary value, in order to determine whether the travel constitutes an FCOI with the PHS-funded research.

(3) The term significant financial interest does not include the following types of financial interests: salary, royalties, or other remuneration paid by UNLV to the Investigator if the Investigator is currently employed or otherwise appointed by UNLV, including intellectual property rights assigned to UNLV and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights; income from investment vehicles, such as mutual funds and retirement accounts, as long as the Investigator does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles. All significant financial interests must be evaluated by UNLV to determine whether or not they pose a financial conflict of interest.

Senior/Key Personnel

A project director (PD), principal Investigator (PI), and any other person identified as senior/key personnel by UNLV in the grant application, progress report, or any other report submitted to the funding agency.

​​​​​​​Sponsored Project

A research, training, service, or other type of project with identifiable objectives and/or deliverables for which external funding either is being requested or has been received.

Supervisor

The supervisor is the University official designated by the Executive Vice President and Provost to review conflict of interest and compensated outside services approvals/ disclosures for academic and administrative faculty in a given unit. For faculty in academic departments or schools, the supervisor is the department chair or school director, and these supervisors are expected to review conflict of interest/compensated outside services approvals/ disclosures for their faculty members directly.

For academic and administrative faculty in a college but not a department or school, the supervisor is the dean, who may delegate this authority to an associate dean in the college or school. For academic or administrative faculty in an area under the Provost outside a college, the supervisor is the relevant vice provost. For academic or administrative faculty in support divisions, this is the relevant vice president (or the General Counsel), and these supervisors may delegate this authority one reporting level down, to an associate vice president or comparably ranked official.

For all vice presidents, deans and vice provosts, the supervisor is the Executive Vice President and Provost (EVPP). For the EVPP, the supervisor is the President. For the President, as per NSHE Code Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 8, the supervisor is the Chancellor.

In all cases, the relevant dean or vice president is responsible, under NSHE Code 4.3.9, to maintain requests, approvals and disclosures as confidential documents and part of the personnel dossier.

​​​​​​​University Responsibilities

An Investigator’s professional responsibilities on behalf of UNLV, and as defined by the University, including but not limited to, activities such as research, research consultation, teaching, professional practice, institutional committee memberships, and service on panels such as University Institutional Review Boards and University Data and Safety Monitoring Boards.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am an administrative faculty (i.e., professional staff) member. Do I need to submit the Annual Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Disclosure Form? What about the Outside Activity Request Form?

All administrative faculty members are required to submit the Annual Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Disclosure Form during the usual reporting period.  Administrative faculty members who wish to participate in outside activities that are not pre-approved must submit the Outside Activity Request Form before a new activity is initiated. 

I am a classified staff member. How do conflict of interest policies impact me?

Although classified staff members are generally not required to submit the Annual Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Disclosure Form or the Outside Activity Request Form, they are still bound by NSHE, state, and federal regulations and are expected to uphold the values within UNLV's conflict of interest policies. Under certain circumstances (e.g., involvement in purchasing decisions), supervisors may require classified staff members to submit a conflict of interest disclosure. For additional guidance, please consult your supervisor.

When do I need to submit the Annual Conflict of Interest/Compensated Outside Services Disclosure Form?

The Disclosure Form should be submitted at the time of the annual reporting period (typically in February), when all employees are sent a personalized link to the electronic form by email. A disclosure may also be needed upon application for a sponsored project.

What is meant by the “third degree of consanguinity”?

The NSHE Code (Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 9) describes the “third degree of consanguinity” in the following way:

Relationships within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity are defined as:

  • The employee’s spouse, child, parent, sibling, half-sibling, or step-relatives in the same relationship;
  • The spouse of the employee’s child, parent, sibling, half-sibling, or step-relative; or
  • The employee’s in-laws, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, or first cousin.

What are the federal requirements for conflict of interest?

In 1995, the National Science Foundation issued a policy and the Public Health Service promulgated a regulation addressing contractor and grantee responsibilities concerning conflict of interest. The Federal Drug Administration also published a conflict of interest regulation applicable to clinical trials. The NSF updated its policy in 2005. The purpose of these policies/regulations is to eliminate, or mitigate through disclosure and effective management, the negative effects of conflicts of interest.

What are the state requirements for conflict of interest and compensated outside services?

The Nevada System of Higher Education and State of Nevada have several requirements related to COI/COS:

  • NSHE Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 9 – Compensated Outside Professional Services
  • NSHE Title 4, Chapter 10, Section 1.7 – Conflicts of Interest Prohibited
  • NSHE Title 4, Chapter 12, Sections 1-8 – Intellectual Property Policy
  • NRS 281A.400-281A.410 – Code of Ethical Standards

How are conflicts of interest managed?

It is a supervisor’s responsibility to review an employee’s Outside Activity Request Form within ten (10) working days. If the employee has disclosed conflicts that require a management plan, the supervisor should meet with him or her to discuss options. Once a management plan has been established, it should be attached to the form prior to forwarding for further signatures.

How many hours per week can I perform compensated outside services?

Outside professional or scholarly service should not interfere any faculty member’s university responsibilities. For academic faculty on a 9-month contract, external activities should not occupy more than one day’s equivalent time per work week (20%). Administrative faculty or academic faculty on a 12-month contract must take annual leave if providing outside professional or scholarly service during the standard work week.

Contact

Conflict of interest/outside compensated services policies and procedures are jointly overseen by the Office of Research Integrity and the Office of Faculty Affairs.

For questions on conflict of interest/outside compensated services policies, please contact:

Lori Olafson, Associate Vice President for Research

Ngai Pindell, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

For inquiries about the disclosure process or other technical matters, please contact:

Tondra De, Assistant Director of Faculty Affairs