Take home message: If it is possible that your outside interests could conflict or appear to conflict with the University’s interests, you have a potential (or perceived) conflict that should be disclosed to your supervisor for discussion or management.
- The Standard Practice Guide on Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment(SPG 201.65-1) sets out the responsibilities of all staff relating to actual or potential conflicts, and the University’s framework for addressing them.
- Every U-M unit has its own Unit Policy on Conflicts, through which the requirements of the SPG are implemented, in the way most appropriate to that unit’s activities and personnel: find your unit under the Provost’s listing of unit policies, or see the UM-Dearborn Staff policy or UM-Flint Staff policy.
- There are many helpful resources on the Provost’s website related to conflicts of interest and commitment, including a set of tools for supervisors or managers, a tutorial for staff, and FAQs. See also the UM-Dearborn COI/COC page (maintained by the UM-Dearborn Office of the Provost) and UM-Flint COI/COC page (maintained by UM-Flint HR).
- Some conflict of interest situations require committee approval by a COI committee: For instance, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) Conflict of Interest Committee oversees conflicts connected to sponsored research projects or technology transfer, and the Medical School COI Board review and approve certain conflicts in the U-M Health System (see the Clinical Conflicts page for more information). Individual Schools and Colleges (and other units) also have their own COI/COC committees: consult your local unit’s policy on conflicts or ask your local HR representative for more information.
- If you are a research administrator or otherwise involved in research, there are additional regulatory requirements that may apply to you: see the U-M Research page on conflicts.
- Some conflict of interest situations require Regental approval: Under Michigan law, U-M may not contract, directly or indirectly, with its employees without the approval of the Board of Regents. “Indirect contracting” can include being an employee of an outside company, owning large amounts of stock in an outside company, or being a member of the outside company’s board of directors. For more information, contact Procurement Services or (for research contracts) the Office of the Vice President for Research.
- Every U-M unit has its own conflict of interest and commitment management policy: make sure you are familiar with your unit’s specific policy and procedures.
- In the busy and interconnected U-M community, conflicts of interest and commitment just happen – and they don’t mean you are a bad person! The important thing is that you know how to identify conflicts, disclose them to your supervisor, and work out how to manage them in a way that doesn’t compromise you or the University.
- Potential conflicts are just as critical as actual conflicts – identifying conflicts before they actually happen puts you and the University in a much better position to avoid and/or deal with them.
- Perception is as important as reality when it comes to conflict – the appearance of conflict can be very damaging to your reputation and the University’s reputation, even if you don’t believe there to be a conflict. Think about how any situation might look to outsiders when assessing your behavior. If it is possible that your outside interests could conflict or appear to conflict with the University’s interests, you have a potential (or perceived) conflict that should be disclosed to your supervisor for discussion or management.
- If you or your outside company are entering a contract with U-M, the contract may require approval by the Board of Regents. Check with Procurement Services or (for research contracts) the Office of the Vice President for Research before finalizing such a contract.
For advice on specific conflicts, you should talk in the first instance to your supervisor, dean or director. You could also talk to your unit’s HR representative, who can give you guidance on your unit’s conflicts of interest and commitment policy and procedures.
For advice on policy implementation relating to conflicts, or for general guidance about managing conflicts of interest and commitment, contact the Provost’s Office – by emailing them or using one of the other contact options listed at the bottom of the Provost’s conflicts site. The Office of the General Counsel also maintains FAQs on Conflicts that may answer your questions.
For supervisors needing legal assistance relating to conflicts of interest or commitment, contact Dave Masson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for bargained staff and Donica Varner (email@example.com) for all other staff, in the Office of the General Counsel.
Established 3/4/11, last updated 3/7/17 – Contact us if you believe any information is incorrect or outdated