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Financial Conflicts of Interest

Financial conflicts of interest and other Disclosure Requirements

Arizona state procurement regulations

An Arizona State University (ASU) employee who has, or whose relative has a substantial interest in any contract with, sale to, purchase from, service for or decision by ASU must also disclose the substantial interest to ASU. The employee must also refrain from participating in any manner in the contract, sale, purchase or decision. The term “substantial interest” is a legal term and not a relative term. Substantial as a relative term refers to quantity.  Substantial interest in legal terms is any pecuniary or proprietary interest, direct or indirect, other than a remote interest. The threshold for reporting substantial interests under Arizona State procurement regulations is $0.

Employees doing business with ASU to supply equipment, material, supplies or services to ASU on a sponsored project may only do so after public competitive bidding. Contact the ASU Business and Finance’s Procurement Department for a description of the competitive bidding requirements.

The regulations define ‘relative’ as a spouse, child, child’s child, parent, grandparent, brother or sister of the whole or half blood and their spouses, and the parent, brother, sister or child of a spouse.

Financial conflicts of interest regulations and policies

Federal and State regulations, as well as university policies require investigators to disclose their significant financial (RSP 206) or business interests (ACD 204‐08) which, due to their relationship to research or other scholarly activities, could give rise to a real or perceived conflict of interest. The term investigator applies to anyone responsible for the design, conduct or reporting of research at the time of application or during the project period.

The university has developed mechanisms to ensure that conflicts of interest related to research will be satisfactorily managed, reduced, or eliminated prior to the expenditure of any funds on an award. The disclosure should be submitted through the ERA MyDisclosures portal at the time of proposal submission and updated annually, or whenever there is a change in the information disclosed. See Disclosure Process.

Significant financial interests are anything of monetary value, including, but not limited to, salary or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria), equity interest (e.g., stocks, private equity, stock options or other ownership interests), venture or other capital financing, and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights).  Significant financial interests can come from domestic and/or foreign sources. 

The term does not include:

  • salary, royalties or other remuneration paid from Arizona State University
  • any ownership interests in the institution, if the institution is an applicant under the Small Business Innovation Research Program or Small Business Technology Transfer Program
  • income from seminars, lectures or teaching engagements sponsored by public or non-profit entities
  • income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities
  • an equity interest that, when aggregated for the investigator and the investigator’s spouse and dependent children, meets both of the following tests: (i) does not exceed $10,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value, and (ii) does not represent more than a 5% ownership interest in any single entity; or
  • salary, royalties or other payments that, when aggregated for the investigator and the investigator’s spouse and dependent children, are not expected to exceed $10,000 during the twelve-month period

Additionally, investigators should disclose the following:

  • Foreign activities, including research collaborations and affiliations, and foreign travel, funded or unfunded.  For additional information see International Research and Global Collaborations
  • Board service (US or foreign) related to institutional responsibilities (ASU business/research), paid or unpaid. 

Public Health Service (PHS) and Department of Energy (DOE) conflicts of interest regulations

PHS regulations governing financial conflict of interest were last revised in 2012. The Department of Energy issued DOE Interim COI Policy Requirements for Financial Assistance (FAL 2022-02) in December 2021. The PHS regulations and DOE Interim COI Policy are similar in many respects and are more stringent than the general conflicts of interest rules and require:

  • Reporting interests related to all institutional responsibilities
    Non-PHS and Non-DOE conflict of interest requirements focus primarily on conflicts that would affect the design, conduct or reporting of research. PHS regulations and the DOE interim COI policy enlarge the definition for interests (domestic and/or foreign) that relate to the research AND all institutional responsibilities. The DOE Interim COI policy further expands "design, conduct, or reporting of research" to include financial conflicts that would affect the "funding" of the research as well.  
  • Definition of Investigator.  PHS and Non-PHS define Investigator essentially the same - Investigator means the project director or principal Investigator and any other person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research funded by the PHS, or proposed for such funding, which may include, for example, collaborators or consultants. (PHS definition). The DOE Interim COI Policy expands the definition of Investigator, beyond that for the PHS and non-PHS, to "the principal Investigator (PI) and any other person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the purpose, design, conduct, or reporting of a project funded by DOE or proposed for funding by DOE."
  • Reporting of financial interests greater than $5,000
    While PHS requires reporting of interests greater than $5000 (except for reporting all equity interests in US non-profit companies and all foreign interests, which is $0), the DOE Interim COI policy threshold for reporting intellectual property rights and interests is $0 which is the same as the Arizona State Procurement threshold.
  • Disclosure Certification.  The DOE Interim COI policy requires Investigators to certify that each disclosure and updated disclosure is true, complete, and accurate. The DOE Interim COI policy has a specific certification statement that must be used.
  • Reporting travel (domestic and/or foreign), regardless of dollar value, related to institutional responsibilities but not paid by ASU or sponsored funds.
    This does not apply to travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a federal, state or local government agency, an institution of higher education, academic teaching hospital, medical center, or research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education. 
  • Public access to financial conflict of interest (FCOI) information
    ASU is required to provide information on identified significant financial conflicts of interest within five business days of a public request for information. 

Public Health Services (PHS) agencies

Some non-PHS sponsors have adopted the PHS conflict of interest rules and require adherence to the regulations in their grants and contracts.  Below is a list of those sponsors that we are aware of.  There may be others.  Read the sponsor's funding opportunity announcement and guidelines carefully.

•    Administration for Children and Families
•    Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR)
•    ALPHA-1 Foundation
•    American Asthma Foundation
•    American Cancer Society (ACS)
•    American Heart Association (AHA)
•    American Lung Association
•    Arthritis Foundation (AF)
•    California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP)
•    California HIV/AIDS Research Program (CHRP)
•    CurePSP
•    Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
•    Lupus Foundation of America (LFA)
•    Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
•    Susan G. Komen for the Cure 

The DOE Interim COI policy is applicable to each non-Federal entity that applies for or that receives DOE financial assistance awards. Through the implementation of the DOE Interim COI policy by the non-Federal entity, the DOE Interim COI policy is also applicable to each investigator who is planning to participate in or is participating in a project funded under a DOE financial assistance award. The DOE Interim COI policy does not apply to the Office of Indian Energy or Phase l Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) applications and financial assistance awards. 

Disclosing and managing financial interests

For information on how to disclose or manage financial interests, see Disclosure Process.