Policy on Financial Conflicts of Interest - NSF Grants
Effective Date: August 24, 2012
Related Policies: [http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf11001/aag_4.jsp];
Office/Administrator Responsible: Office of Sponsored Research/Faculty Grants Coordinator
1. Scope of this policy
This policy on conflict of interest for researchers was developed to comply with the requirements of the National Science Foundation (NSF) as stated in AAG Chapter IV.A.
Mount Holyoke College maintains this policy and commits to inform each Investigator of the Investigator's reporting responsibilities and of the regulations requiring the policy. If Mount Holyoke College carries out the NSF-funded research through subgrantees, contractors, or collaborators it will take reasonable steps to ensure that:
- the entity has its own policies in place that meet the requirements of this policy; or
- investigators working for such entities follow the policies of Mount Holyoke.
2. Required disclosure
Before an application is submitted to NSF, each Investigator who is planning to participate in the funded research is required to submit to the Office of Sponsored Research a listing of his or her known Significant Financial Interests (and those of his or her spouse and dependent children):
- That would reasonably appear to be affected by the research or educational activity for which funding is sought; and
- In entities whose financial interests would reasonably appear to be affected by the research or educational activity.
All financial disclosures must be updated during the period of the award, either on an annual basis or as new reportable Significant Financial Interests are obtained. No funds may be expended until the process of identifying and managing any conflicts is complete.
If the Investigator has no Significant Financial Interests to disclose, the Investigator is required to certify the lack of such interests.
3. Guidelines for identifying Conflicts of Interest
The Director of Foundations and Sponsored Research or his or her designee will review all financial disclosures; and determine whether a conflict of interest exists and, if so, forward the information to the Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Finance and Administration or their designees to determine what actions should be taken by the College to manage, reduce or eliminate such conflict of interest.
A Financial Conflict of Interest exists when the College reasonably determines that a Significant Financial Interest could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting of the funded research. Examples of conditions or restrictions that might be imposed to manage Financial Conflicts of Interest include, but are not limited to:
- public disclosure of significant financial interests;
- monitoring of research by independent reviewers;
- modification of the research plan;
- disqualification from participation in all or a portion of the research funded by NSF;
- divestiture of significant financial interests; or
- severance of relationships that create actual or potential conflicts.
In addition to the types of conflicting financial interests described in this paragraph that must be managed, reduced, or eliminated, the College may require the management of other conflicting financial interests, as the College deems appropriate.
NSF exception on managing conflicts
If the Dean of Faculty and V. P. for Finance and Administration or their designees determine that imposing conditions or restrictions would be either ineffective or inequitable, and that the potential negative impacts that may arise from a significant financial interest are outweighed by interests of scientific progress, technology transfer, or the public health and welfare, then the College may allow the research to go forward without imposing such conditions or restrictions (as stated in Chapter IV AAG, NSF 11-1 January 18, 2011)
4. Record Keeping
Mount Holyoke College will retain records of all financial disclosures and all actions taken with respect to each conflicting interest for at least three (3) years beyond the termination or completion of the grant to which they relate, or until the resolution of any NSF action involving those records, whichever is longer.
Investigator: means the principal investigator and any other person who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research or educational activity funded by NSF, or proposed for such funding. For purposes of the requirements of this policy relating to financial interests, "Investigator" includes the Investigator's spouse and dependent children.
Significant Financial Interest: means anything of monetary value, including but not limited to, salary or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria); equity interests (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interests); and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights).
The term does not include:
- salary, royalties, or other remuneration from Mount Holyoke College;
- any ownership interests in the institution, if the institution is an applicant under Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program / Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program
- income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit 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: does not exceed $10,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value, and does not represent more than a five percent 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 over the next twelve months, are not expected to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) during the twelve month period.
Research: means a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge relating broadly to public health, including behavioral and social-sciences research. The term encompasses basic and applied research and product development. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program: means the extramural research program for small business that is established by the Awarding Components of the PHS and certain other Federal agencies under Pub. L. 97-219, the SBIR Development Act, as amended. For purposes of the implementing regulations, the term SBIR Program includes the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program, which was established by Pub. L. 102-564.
6. NSF required reporting
Whenever the College determines that it is unable to satisfactorily manage a conflict of interest, it is required by NSF to inform the NSF Office of the General Counsel electronically via the NSF FastLane system.