This Is Auburn Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy


Situations and activities may generally be grouped into one of three categories under the Conflict of Interest/Commitment Policy. The information presented here is general guidance and not considered legal advice. It is in your best interest to report all financial interests and relationships which may create the appearance of a conflict for our review team's consideration.

Category A: Not Significant and Generally Permissible Activities

Situations where any Financial Interest held by an employee, employee's family, or employee's close relation is below the threshold for Significant Financial Interest and where the situation suggests no actual, potential, or perceived Conflict of Interest. These situations may continue without a management plan.

Category B: Potential or Perceived Conflicts of Interest

Activities which may represent Conflicts of Interest, but in many cases would be permitted to go forward after disclosure with a Management Plan.

Category C: Actual Conflicts of Interest

Activities which represent actual Conflicts of Interest, and which either may be permitted to go forward after disclosure only with an appropriate Management Plan to eliminate the conflict, safeguard against bias toward University activities, and provide continuing oversight; or may not be permitted it if cannot be managed.

# Situation Category Management Plan
1 A staff member works in Facilities and is responsible for ordering materials. Employee's first cousin owns a hardware store which sells the materials. C The staff member cannot take part in the procurement of materials from his/her family member's business.
2 A staff member works part-time for another company performing the same or similar duties as his/her institutional responsibilities. B The staff member's activity must not interfere with his/her university obligations and not use Auburn University resources (without appropriate use agreement in place).
3 A dean owns stock in a publicly traded company as part of an overall investment portfolio (401k). A No management plan needed.
4 A research assistant provides consulting for ABC, Inc. related to using technology and developing products associated with the research assistant's research at AU. B The research assistant must refrain from disclosing any technology or information protected by Intellectual Property.
5 An event planner for the university often works with clients to books venues for events. The event planner also owns his/her own event planning business. B The university venue may only offer the planner's services as one of several event planning services available to the clients and the planner cannot use their public position for private gain.
6 A staff member is to take part in the evaluation and selection of a vendor from multiple bidders. One of the bidding companies is operated by the staff member's brother. C The staff member cannot not take part in that or any other vendor evaluation/selection that involves his/her family's company.
7 A faculty member accepts royalties for the publication of her scholarly work. A No management plan needed. The royalties are incidental to her institutional responsibilities.
8 A faculty member is conducting sponsored research on a product developed by a company for which the faculty member is a consultant. B The faculty member discloses his relationship with the company to the sponsor of the research and in any published research results for that product.
9 A staff member serves on the board of a local community organization. A No management plan needed unless the organization seeks to do business with the University.
10.A staff member would like to hire his spouse as a consultant to the University.CThe staff member does not make the hiring decision, but instead refers the hiring decision to a supervisor.
11.A staff member teaches a class at Auburn University as a contract instructor and receives compensation.ANo management plan needed. The staff member may engage in university activities for extra compensation.
12.A university development officer who solicits gifts from AU donors volunteers for a local non-profit organization to raise money for the non-profit.CThe development officer may not solicit money for the non-profit. They may engage in other volunteer activities for the non-profit that does not involve fundraising.
13.A faculty member directs a graduate student into a research area from which the faculty member may receive financial gain.BThe faculty member informs the student about the possible financial gain from their outside business. Another faculty colleague makes an objective judgment about whether this research is in the student's scholarly best interest.
14.A dean has a financial stake in a company that does business with the university. The dean has the opportunity to make a decision for the university that will impact that business. CThe dean is excluded from participating in this or any other decision on behalf of the university with regards to that business.
15.A staff member owns stock in a company that does business with the university. The staff member does not have any influence over university decisions regarding that company. ANo management plan needed unless the staff member is given authority to influence University decisions regarding the company.
16.A faculty member would like to use laboratory space for consulting purposes.BUnder appropriate circumstances, the faculty member may be allowed to enter into a contract with the University to pay for his/her non-University use of the laboratory.
17.A staff member teaches a class at a local community college.BThe staff member's outside activity must not interfere with his/her university obligations or use university resources for the outside activity.
18.A staff member would like to rent property to the university.BThe decision by the university to rent the staff member's property is made by another non-subordinate member of the university. The rent/rate must be of reasonable market value.
19.A faculty member is offered a position on a scientific board of a company that has research contracts with the faculty member's department.BThe faculty member discloses their relationship with the company to the department head and in any published research results the faculty member takes part in for the company.
20.A corporation asks a faculty member to sign a contract that would forbid publication of the faculty member's research findings.CThe faculty member renegotiates the contract to postpone publication until after a certain time has elapsed, but not to prevent publication altogether.
21.A faculty member accepts an honorarium from another U.S. public higher education institution for giving a lecture at that institution.ANo management plan needed. Honorarium is from another U.S. public institution of higher education and not a corporation.
22.A VP serves as a director of an organization that does business with the university.BThe VP cannot take part in any university substantive discussion involving this organization or use any university resources for activity related to the outside organization.
23.A faculty member is an owner, manager or officer of a company that does business with the university.BAll dealings between the company and the university are overseen by a supervisor or non-subordinate colleague of the faculty member.
24.A staff member is selecting candidates for admission to the university and a family member applies for admission.CThe staff member does not take part in the evaluation/selection process relating to that family member.
25.A department chair receives reimbursement from U.S. public higher education institution (or a U.S. governmental agency) for travel and lodging for a public speaking engagement out-of-state related to their area of expertise at Auburn.ANo management plan needed. Travel expenses are incidental to part of their institutional responsibilities.
26.A faculty member wants to hire several students to perform work in their university lab for a company the faculty member owns.CUnder appropriate circumstances, the faculty member may be allowed to enter into a contract with the university to pay for his non-university use of the laboratory and students. The faculty member informs the students/employees about the faculty member's possible financial gain. A Management plan must clearly outline what duties are for the university and what duties are for the company, and the company work cannot interfere with their university responsibilities.
27.A program coordinator wants to hire their daughter to be a graduate teaching assistant in their program area.CThe program coordinator cannot recommend or make hiring decisions involving their family members, but rather refers the hiring decision to their supervisor. If the daughter is hired, the program coordinator cannot serve in a supervisory role.
28.A principal investigator wants to hire their son who is a Ph.D. student to work on a sponsored research project for compensation.CThe faculty member cannot be in a supervisory position over a family member, nor make decisions about hiring or pay regarding their son.
29.A faculty member publishes a book and receives income from sales on from the publisher.AIn most cases, no management plan is needed.
30.A faculty member wants to use a textbook they authored as a required text in a course they teach.AIn most cases, no management plan is needed. Curriculum committee would need to approve any use of the book for faculty member's own courses.
31.An administrative assistant sells cosmetics out of their home.BThe activity is unrelated to their institutional responsibilities, but it must not interfere with their university obligations or use university resources (time, computer, printer) for the business.
32.A faculty member has a U.S. federal grant for classified research and collaborates with a researcher at a Chinese institution that is operated by the Chinese government.CThe institution and the researcher pose a national security threat.
33.A faculty member is invited to serve on the dissertation committee of a doctoral student in Brazil. ANo management plan needed.
34.A faculty member hosts a foreign national visiting scholar for a semester to work in their lab. BThe researcher must be vetted by the Research Security Compliance Office.

Last Updated: February 07, 2022