Conflicts of Interest
The University System of Georgia (USG) is committed to the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct in pursuit of its mission to create knowledge. This includes fundamental values of transparency and objectivity. USG employees are required to be honest, fair, and impartial in dealings with, and on behalf of, the USG. In accordance with state law, it is essential to the proper operation of government that public employees be independent and impartial and that public office not be used for private gain other than that allowed by law and that there be public confidence in the integrity of government (O.C.G.A. § 45-10-21). Board policy requires employees to avoid actual and apparent conflicts of interest.
In accordance with Board of Regents Policy 188.8.131.52 Conflict of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment, and Outside Activities, an apparent conflict of interest exists when a reasonable person would conclude from the circumstances that the employee’s ability to protect the public interest, or perform public duties, is compromised by a personal, financial, or business interest. An apparent conflict of interest can exist even in the absence of an actual or legal conflict of interest. Each USG institution is required to establish procedures where employees can disclose potential or apparent conflicts of interest. USG institution employees should follow the procedures established at their institution to disclose potential or apparent conflicts of interest. University System Office employees should disclose potential or apparent conflicts of interest through their supervisor to the USG Office of Ethics and Compliance.
Conflict of Commitment
USG employees must avoid conflicts of commitment. A conflict of commitment exists when an employee’s outside occupation, pursuit or endeavor interferes with the regular and punctual discharge of that employee’s official duties.
USG employees have an ongoing responsibility to report and fully disclose any personal, professional, or financial interests, relationships, or activities that have the potential to compromise an employee’s objectivity in fulfilling the employee’s responsibilities to the USG. USG employees should follow the procedures established at their institution for the disclosure of any actual, apparent or potential conflicts of interest. Additionally, USG employees must obtain written authorization prior to engaging in compensated outside activities that relate to the employee’s expertise or responsibilities as a USG employee. Such activities include consulting, teaching, speaking, and participating in business, professional, or service enterprises. Outside activities should not interfere with an employee’s obligations and responsibilities to the USG. The first step in properly addressing a potential conflict of interest is disclosure. USG institution employees should follow the procedures established at their institution to disclose potential or apparent conflicts of interest. University System Office employees should disclose potential or apparent conflicts of interest through their supervisor to the USG Office of Ethics and Compliance.
Institutional and Research Conflicts of Interest
The USG recognizes the benefits of collaboration and commercialization with the private sector and other third-party entities that supports the USG mission. The resulting relationships and agreements, however, must not undermine the public’s trust, compromise the integrity of the USG mission, or inappropriately influence teaching, research, and service activities. Under no circumstances should a grant, gift, contract or other funding be accepted that limits the ability of USG employees to conduct or report the results of research in accordance with applicable scientific, medical, professional, and ethical standards. Each USG institutions is required to establish policy and review procedures concerning Institutional and Research Conflicts of Interest within its institutional guidelines.