We believe in integrity in our teaching, research, outreach, and business activities. Disclosing interests, activities, and relationships that could be perceived as conflicts of interests with an employee's institutional responsibilities is an important part of that value. Transparency is a critical component of avoiding or mitigating any conflict of interests, and provides trust in university operations.
The Division of Institutional Compliance & Privacy oversees the University's Conflict of Interest Policy and procedures. We provide guidance to Auburn University main campus (AU), Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM), the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES) to ensure university compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. COI disclosure is vital to preserving a culture of compliance and ethics throughout all four divisions of Auburn University.
What is a conflict?
A conflict of interest exists where an employee or their immediate family member has a personal interest in or receives a personal financial, economic, professional, or personal gain or advantage of any kind from the employee's position in a manner that may inappropriately influence the employee's judgment, compromise the employee's ability to carry out Auburn institutional responsibilities, or be a detriment to Auburn's integrity.
Some example include:
Engaging in outside employment or activities that compete with your institutional responsibilities or occur during your normal Auburn working hours
Hiring, supervising, or being in the chain of command a family member; or entering a contract with a family member in your Auburn role
Accepting gifts from Auburn vendors to improperly influence your Auburn decisions or actions
Receiving consulting fees from a company or organization that also sponsors your research and related activities at Auburn
All employees must disclose activities and relationships that create a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment, or that have the appearance of creating a conflict of interest/commitment. When deemed necessary, a plan to manage, mitigate or eliminate the conflict will be developed by the employee with their supervisor and approved through their chain of supervision and the Division of Institutional Compliance and Privacy or the Office of Research Compliance.
Disclosures should include:
Compensation received from any entity other than Auburn University. This includes outside employment, consulting fees, paid travel, intellectual property, etc.
Ownership interests or leadership positions in any legal entity. This includes owner of an LLC, sole proprietorship, or other business entity, CEO, President, Scientific Advisor, etc.
Board positions for companies or organizations, whether paid or unpaid, such as Chair/President, Treasurer, Advisor, etc.
Other professional activities related or unrelated to your university work, which occur on a regular basis, whether paid or unpaid. Examples include operating online shops, commercial websites, social media business accounts, or other professional services (lawn and landscape, information technology, HVAC, consulting, accounting/bookkeeping, legal, etc.)
Interests in foreign entities, including but not limited to appointments or titles, contracts or agreements, laboratories, courses or lectures, collaborations, gifts or other support (students, lab space, equipment, grants), consulting, travel, and visiting scholars.
Family members who also work at the university. This includes full-time, TES, GTAs, GAs, and student workers.
Personal relationships with Auburn vendors or affiliates that may appear to improperly influence your Auburn decisions or actions.
Submit or Update Your Disclosure
All full-time employees must complete the COI disclosure online annually. This occurs in July/August each year. New employees must complete the COI disclosure within 30 days of hire, and annually thereafter.
You must update your disclosure throughout the year if you acquire any new interests or relationships. This must occur within 30 days of acquiring the new interest/relationship. You may revise your answers at any time throughout the year if your interests/relationships change.
Conflict of Interest in Research and Sponsored Activities
The Office of Research Compliance oversees Financial Conflicts of Interest (FCOI) related to research, technology comercialization, and related activities; as well as Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RCR), to ensure compliance with federal regulations. Please visit their website for additional information and resources related to conflicts of interest in research.
Once we review employee disclosures, we will contact you if we need additional information or if there appears to be a conflict or potential conflict that needs a management plan. The management plan protects both the employee and the institution. It provides safeguards that the employee follows and oversight from an oversight manager (typically the employee's supervisor) to provide guidance on how to continue to engage in the outside activity, maintain the personal interest, or work with family members in a compliant manner consistent with the Conflict of Interests Policy, the Alabama Ethics Law, and federal research requirements.
View Template Management Plans
If you have a conflict of interest that needs to be managed, contact the Division of Institutional Compliance & Privacy for assistance, or the Office of Research Integrity for research-related conflicts. Send us a draft of your COI management plan for review and electronic signature.
UC110E: Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment
Self-paced modules covering an overview of COI completed in 45 minutes.
Register in ElevatED in AU Access!
Contact us to schedule a personalized training for your department. We can provide a 1-2 hour workshop, or a 10-15 minute presentation for your faculty/staff meeting.