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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 27, 2009

Conflict-of-interest form gets new look

by Paula Van Brocklin

Iowa State's annual conflict-of-interest form is getting a facelift. Beginning in March, an electronic version will be online in AccessPlus. The content of the form is changing, too. It will detail all types of activities that could be considered conflicts and, therefore, need disclosing.

Brenda Behling, assistant to the executive vice president and provost, said the university is not changing its policy; it's just attempting to manage it more effectively.

"As a public university, it is increasingly important that we document these activities and provide the necessary oversight, in addition to protecting the interests of the faculty and staff in the process," Behling said.

She added that ISU does not discourage employees from pursuing outside activities, many of which may benefit the university and the public.

"We want to assure that these activities can continue by having a management plan in place when a conflict has been identified," she said.

No opting out

The state Board of Regents requires all full-time faculty and professional and scientific staff to disclose potential conflicts of interest annually. Employees will receive notification in the next few weeks asking them to complete the new online form. Behling said employees should complete the form for this year in March, though no deadline is set.

"We ask for the cooperation of faculty and staff in complying with this annual disclosure statement," Behling said. "We plan to send reminders to those who have not completed the form."

In future years, faculty and P&S staff will receive reminders each January to update the conflict-of-interest form in AccessPlus. But employees are encouraged to revise the form at any time if their personal situations change.

What's next?

Completed forms are forwarded to employees' supervisors. If a potential conflict is identified, the form will route to the offices of the executive vice president and provost, the vice president for research and economic development, and the director of purchasing.

"The form will be reviewed to see how the university can best manage the situation," Behling said.

Education is key

In an effort to better educate employees about ISU's conflict-of-interest policy, Behling, along with Charlotte Bronson, associate vice president for research, and Nancy Brooks, director of purchasing, created a web site with conflict-of-interest definitions and examples.

This group also is working with campus administrators to determine the role of supervisors in reviewing the forms, and the steps necessary for implementing a management plan when a potential conflict is identified.


ISU's annual conflict-of-interest disclosure form is going electronic in March. All full-time faculty and professional and scientific staff are required to complete it on AccessPlus.