Frequently Asked Questions
- OUTSIDE COMMITMENTS
- FINANCIAL INTERESTS
- BUSINESS INTERESTS RELATING TO YOUR UNIVERSITY RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPERTISE
- CLINICAL HEALTH CARE
- PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE RESEARCHERS
OUTSIDE PROFESSIONAL COMMITMENTS
- What is an outside professional commitment?
An outside professional commitment is defined in Board of Regents Policy: Outside Consulting and Other Commitments in the following manner:
Outside commitment shall mean outside consulting or other activity, paid or unpaid, that is beyond the scope of the individual's University employment responsibilities.
An "outside professional commitment" is an outside commitment that utilizes the same professional expertise that the individual employs in the individual's University responsibilities.
"Outside consulting" is a subset of an outside professional commitment, and is defined as paid professional service intended to further the interests of an outside party, regardless of whether such services are provided as an employee of the outside party, an independent contractor, a business owner, or a director or manager.
- Which outside professional commitments are exempt from reporting?
The following activities, when they are related to the normal course of work as a faculty member and P&A employee, do not count as outside professional commitments. The activities listed below do not need to be reported unless they are compensated by a business entity beyond expense reimbursement (receipt of royalties for scholarly publications does not constitute "compensation by a business entity" for purposes of this policy). Regardless of compensation, these activities must not interfere with the performance of regular employment duties or compete with coursework offered by the University or services offered by the employee's unit.
- Preparing scholarly or artistic works;
- Peer review of articles and grant proposals;
- Attendance and presentations at professional meetings (and other similar gatherings);
- Serving on advisory committees or evaluation panels for governmental agencies, non-profit higher education institutions or non-profit entities organized solely for educational, religious, philanthropic, or research purposes (with the exception of non-profit entities created by for-profit corporations);
- Giving occasional lectures and speeches, participation in colloquia, symposia, site visits, study sections, and similar gatherings sponsored by governmental agencies, non-profit higher education institutions or non-profit entities organized solely for educational, religious, philanthropic, or research purposes (with the exception of non-profit entities created by for-profit corporations); and
- Ad hoc refereeing of manuscripts.
The following activities are considered University responsibilities and therefore also are excluded from the scope of this policy:
- Working on projects supported by grant or contract funds awarded to the University and accepted by the Board of Regents;
- Teaching extension courses offered by the University; and
- Participating in private practice plans that are governed by Board of Regents' policies on private practice plans.
Further information may be found in Administrative Policy: Outside Consulting and Other Commitments. The Administrative Policy includes a link to the related procedures.
- If the outside professional commitment I am involved with is not exempt from reporting, do I report it or do I need to reach a particular threshold before I am required to report the activity on my REPA?
Generally speaking, if you spend more than 3 combined days during any calendar year on outside commitments, your outside professional commitments must be reported on your REPA. The outside commitments need not relate to your University activities or field of subject matter expertise.
- Does it make a difference if I am providing services to one business entity or multiple business entities?
No. The focus of the inquiry is on the number of days you are away from your University responsibilities, not the number of business entities with which you may be involved. If, for example, you are providing consulting services for a total of 9 days per year, the impact on the University is the same, whether those nine days are devoted to one business entity or to three.
- Do I count the time spent as a presenter for a company?
Yes, you need to report the time spent making presentations on behalf of a business entity. Consulting, for purposes of filing a REPA, is broader than the situations in which you have entered into a formal consulting agreement. Presenting or speaking for an entity that is not a public or nonprofit entity is consulting, just as is attending meetings in which your expertise and contributions are valued.
- When answering the question on outside commitments, how is a "day" computed?
The length of a day is considered the length of a covered individual's normal working day, up to ten hours. So if you have commitments during the year for a total of 40 hours, and your typical work day is 10 hours, this would equal 4 days. However if the business entity you are working with defines "day" differently than you do, you must use that entity's definition. For example, for purposes of consulting agreements, the Department of Veterans Affairs defines a "day" as 8 hours. If you provide 40 hours of consulting services to the Department of Veterans Affairs, this would equal 5 consulting days, even if your typical work day is 10 hours.
- Is there a maximum number of days that I can engage in outside activities?
University faculty and P&A staff with appointments of 75% or more are eligible to devote a maximum of one day per seven day week to outside activities. For 12 month A appointments, the maximum is 48 days per year. For 9 month B appointments, the maximum is 39 days per year. These limits apply whether the outside activity an individual engages in is for one organization or several.
- If I don't exceed the maximum number of days I can consult annually, do I need to obtain approval of any kind and, if so, how do I do that and who has approval authority?
You may need to get prior approval. Prior approval is required whenever faculty and staff with 12-month A appointments anticipate that their outside commitments will involve, on average, more than one day per month during the period of their appointment or 13 days. For those with 9 month B appointments, the threshold for obtaining prior approval is 10 days. If you anticipate exceeding these thresholds, you will need to complete a Request for Outside Consulting (ROC). Your unit head will determine whether or not to approve your ROC. University policy provides two levels of review if an individual challenges the initial determination. For further information, please refer to Administrative Procedure: Outside Consulting and Other Commitments by Faculty and Academic Professional and Administrative (P&A) Staff.
- Do I have to report my outside commitments if the time spent is on evenings and weekends?
Yes. Reporting of days is based on activities that occur during the appointment term. Administrative Procedure: Outside Consulting and Other Commitments by Faculty and Academic Professional and Administrative (P&A) Staff.
- How do I view my prior REPAs and ROCS in order to get information?
- On the EGMS Home Page click on EGMS Forms.
- Log in with your Internet ID and password.
- Click on "Status of Requests" on the Main Menu.
- This provides you with the Request Number, the Date, Type, and Status of the forms submitted by you.
- If you want to see the information on a particular form, click on the hyperlink under Summary.
- Who is included in the term "family member"?
In Board of Regents Policy: Individual Conflicts of Interest, "family member" is defined as your spouse or domestic partner, dependent children, and any other family member whom you reasonably know may benefit personally from actions taken by you on behalf of the University.
- What is the definition of "business entity"?
"Business entity" is defined in Administrative Policy: Individual Conflicts of Interest and Standards Governing Relationships with Business Entities as
"Any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, franchise, association, organization, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, business or real estate trust, or any other nongovernmental legal entity organized for profit, nonprofit, or charitable purposes. With the exception of nonprofit entities created by for profit entities, this definition does not include organizations and entities that are organized solely for religious, philanthropic, educational, or research purposes."
- What is a financial interest? How does it differ from a significant financial interest?
For the complete definition of these terms see Administrative Policy: Individual Conflicts of Interest and Standards Governing Relationships with Business Entities.
A "financial interest" is anything of monetary value. It includes stock holdings, stock options, and the receipt of or right to receive income such as a consulting fee, honoraria, salary, royalty, or other form of compensation from a business entity.
The term "significant financial interest" (SFI) means a threshold at which one could have a financial conflict of interest. For those engaged in clinical health care and for investigators on research projects funded by the Public Health Service (PHS), the SFI threshold is greater than $5,000. For all other covered individuals the SFI threshold is $10,000.
- Are there any items that do not need to be reported?
Yes, Section I.B. of Administrative Policy: Individual Conflicts of Interest and Standards Governing Relationships with Business Entities lists categories of compensation you do not need to report. They are:
- salaries, royalties, or other remuneration paid by the University to the covered individual. Royalties are exempt to the extent the individual does not have any other relationship with the business entity paying the royalties that could result in a conflict of interest.
- income from a private practice plan or private professional practice plan pursuant to Board of Regents policy (see the "Clinical Health Care" policy).
- salaries, royalties, or other remuneration paid to adjunct faculty by their primary employer.
- income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, an institution of higher education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education.
- income from service on advisory boards or review panels for a federal, state, or local government agency, an institution of higher education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education.
- income from investment vehicles, such as mutual funds and retirement accounts, as long as the individual does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles.
- income from non-profit entities organized solely for educational, religious, philanthropic, or research purposes (with the exception of non-profit entities created by for-profit corporations) (however, covered individuals involved in PHS sponsored research must report this income).
- income from services provided to professional organizations (covered individuals involved in PHS sponsored research must report this income).
- I have owned stock in a company for many years before coming to the University. This company makes products that the University purchases, and I participate in making or recommending purchasing decisions for these products. Do I need to report my stock holdings in this company on my REPA?
Since you participate in purchasing decisions regarding products made by this company, your stock ownership relates to your University responsibilities. Therefore, if the value of your stock meets REPA reporting thresholds, you must report your stock holdings on your REPA.
BUSINESS INTERESTS RELATING TO YOUR UNIVERSITY RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPERTISE
What is a business interest?
Having a "business interest" means holding an executive position (such as chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief technical officer, or chief medical officer) in, or membership on a board (such as board of directors, scientific advisory board, or other advisory board) of, a business entity. These business interests must be reported whether or not such activities are compensated.
CLINICAL HEALTH CARE
- What is the definition of clinical health care?
"Clinical Health Care" is defined in the DEFINITIONS section of Administrative Policy: Individual Conflicts of Interest: Standards that Govern Those Involved in Clinical Health Care as:
The provision of medical, nursing, or other health-related care to humans or animals for the treatment of disease or injury. In the context of animals, this definition includes those owned by the University and those brought to the University by their owners specifically for the purpose of health care.
- Can I be considered a clinical health care provider if I am employed outside of the University's Academic Health Center?
Yes. Individuals involved in clinical health care include those who work in the following positions or units:
- Duluth Campus: Athletics as athletic trainers, Health Services, and Communication Sciences/Communication Disorders
- Morris Campus: Athletics as athletic trainers
- Crookston Campus: Athletics as athletic trainers and Health Services
- Twin Cities Campus Athletics as athletic trainers
- Boynton Health Services (optometrists, physicians, dentists, mental health professionals, clinical specialists, pharmacists, nurses, dental hygienists and assistants)
- College of Liberal Arts (Speech, Language, and Hearing Services; Music Therapy Program)
- College of Education and Human Development (School of Kinesiology; Family Social Science)
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE RESEARCHERS
- I conduct research sponsored (funded) by the Public Health Service (PHS), and understand that the PHS changed its financial conflict of interest regulations in 2012. What is unique about the PHS regulations?
For PHS funded researchers, the significant financial interest threshold has been reduced from $10,000 to $5,000. Income from non-profit entities and professional associations is not exempt from reporting. You also must report the following information on your REPA if a business entity sponsors or reimburses your travel: name of business entity, trip destination, purpose, and duration.
The regulations also require that if financial conflicts of interest are not timely disclosed or managed, the University must conduct a review of the covered individual's research to determine whether it has been biased as a result of the conflict.
Finally, if the University receives an external request for financial conflict of interest information, it must disclose the following: the Investigator's name, title and role on the research, name of the business entity, nature of the significant financial interest, and the approximate dollar value of the significant financial interest.
- What sponsored or reimbursed travel must I report, and when must I report it?
Within 30 days of its occurrence, you must report sponsored or reimbursed travel taken by you, your spouse, or dependent children that is related to your institutional responsibilities, unless the travel is reimbursed or sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a) [see next FAQ below], an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education.
Annual travel expenses paid by an entity that in the aggregate are $5000 or less need not be reported.
- How is an Institution of higher education defined in 20 U.S.C. 1001(a)?
It is defined as an educational institution in any State that - (1) admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate; (2) is legally authorized within such State to provide a program of education beyond secondary education; (3) provides an educational program for which the institution awards a bachelor's degree or provides not less than a 2-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree; (4) is a public or other nonprofit institution; and (5) is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association, or if not so accredited, is an institution that has been granted pre-accreditation status by such an agency or association that has been recognized by the Secretary (of Education) for the granting of pre-accreditation status, and the Secretary has determined that there is satisfactory assurance that the institution will meet the accreditation standards of such an agency or association within a reasonable time.
- How do I report sponsored or reimbursed travel on the REPA?
When you answer "yes" to REPA General Question 5, you will be asked whether a business entity has reimbursed you for, or sponsored, any travel that you have taken. Answer "yes" to the sub question, and then report who traveled (you, your spouse, your dependent child), the purpose of the trip, the sponsor of the trip, the destination, and the duration.
- Who is my departmental approver?
Your departmental approver is typically your Department or Unit Head/Chair/Director. If you do not know who your Department or Unit Head is, please contact your COI Unit Contact. The name of that individual, along with their x500, may be found in: List of Collegiate and Unit Conflict of Interest Contacts.
- No departmental approvers appear for my department or unit. What should I do?
You may manually type in your departmental approver's X.500 in the "Approver's Internet ID" box. If you do not know your departmental approver's X.500, you may use the "Search X.500" function to find it. After you type in the departmental approver's X.500, click "Confirm Approver" and the approver's name and department will appear below.
- After I type in my departmental approver's X.500, I receive a message that says "No approver with an Internet ID of [X.500] can be found". How do I proceed?
Make sure that you have entered the departmental approver's X.500 correctly, in all lowercase with no spaces. Do not include "@umn.edu." If the system still won't accept the departmental approver, it is likely that the person is not set up as a departmental approver. Please contact your COI Unit Contact to confirm that you have the correct departmental approver.
- Do I only file a REPA once each year? If not, how will I know if I need to file an additional REPA during the year?
Most faculty and staff file only one REPA each year and that is because the information they report during the REPA season doesn't change during the balance of the year. However, if you have a "change in circumstance" in a financial interest (remuneration, equity, or royalties) or business interest that relates to your University expertise or responsibilities, or a change in your University responsibilities that relates to an existing business or financial interest, you will need to file a new REPA.
- How will I determine whether a "change in circumstance" has occurred?
If circumstances have changed such that you now have a business or significant financial interest that overlaps with your University responsibilities or expertise, a "change in circumstance" has occurred that should lead you to file a change in circumstances REPA.
The following are examples of situations that may require you to file a "Change in Circumstance" REPA:
- An increase in the value of an existing financial interest to a value that meets or exceeds the "significant financial interest" threshold;
- The acquisition of a new significant financial interest (e.g., through purchase, marriage, or inheritance);
- The assumption of an executive or fiduciary role with a business entity;
- A change in your University responsibilities that relate to an existing business or financial interest. For example, you have been a consultant for a company but were not conducting any research that related to the commercial interests of the company. Now you have been awarded a contract or grant that will evaluate the safety and efficacy of technology developed by that company.
- For PHS-funded researchers, the occurrence of travel sponsored or reimbursed by an entity unless the trip was paid for or reimbursed by a governmental agency, an Institution of higher education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education. Annual travel expenses paid by an entity that in the aggregate are $5,000 or less need not be reported.
If you need assistance in determining whether a new REPA is needed for your particular situation, contact the Conflict of Interest Program staff at REPAmail@umn.edu.
- How much time do I have to file a "change in circumstance" REPA?
You should file a new REPA reporting the new or changed information within 30 days of the "change in circumstance".
- If I currently have a conflict management plan in place for my external relationships, how long is the plan in effect?
The plan is in effect until the situation that gave rise to the conflict ends. During the conduct of its annual compliance review, the COI Program may determine that your plan can be retired or modified. If your circumstances change, you also may contact the Conflict of Interest Program staff to determine whether the management plan can be retired or whether it should be modified.