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Conflicts of Interest & Outside Activity Reporting

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates the risk that one’s professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.

There are two types of financial disclosures that may be required. (See the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission website for information about disclosures for state employees.) When a University employee is engaged in outside activities, the employee files a disclosure form with the Office of Institutional Compliance (OIC), who forwards the disclosure to the appropriate campus appointing authority as required by the State Ethics Commission. The activity may also need to be disclosed on the financial conflict of interest (FCOI) form submitted with proposals for sponsored research to the Office of Research Administration (ORA). All sponsored research requires FCOI reporting at the time of proposal submission and annually for awarded projects.

The Office of Institutional Compliance reviews and evaluates all outside activity and sponsored research-related disclosures. If a disclosure is made, OIC will contact the employee for additional information, initiate next steps to help evaluate the potential for a conflict of interest, and forward the FCOI to the employee’s appointing authority or prepare information for Conflicts Committee review (as needed).

The campus Conflicts Committee evaluates and reviews disclosure for FCOIs. When a FCOI needs to be managed, the campus Conflicts Committee provides recommendations to the UMass system Conflicts Committee. The UMass Conflicts Committee provides final guidance as necessary to the employee, typically as a conflict management plan. UMass Lowell has two representatives on the UMass system Conflicts Committee - a faculty representative and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (or designee).