2.5.2 Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment, and Outside Activities

A. Purpose

This policy is intended to protect the credibility and reputation of the U.T. System, of U.T. Tyler and of members of the faculty and staff by providing a transparent system of disclosure, approval, and documentation of employee activities outside U.T. that might otherwise raise concerns about conflicts of interest or conflicts of commitment. The policy also serves the purpose of ensuring compliance with State ethics laws and Regents’ Rules. Finally, the policy is intended to provide the framework for rules and procedures that will clearly delineate permissible outside activities. (UTS 180, Sec. 2). This policy also serves the purpose of ensuring U.T. Tyler employees disclose substantial foreign relationships (Regents’ Rule 30104, Sec. 5).

B. Persons Affected

This policy applies to all U.T. Tyler employees. (UTS Policy180 Sec. 1)

C. Definitions

Business Entity. Any entity recognized by law through which business for profit is conducted, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, firm, corporation, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, or trust.

Compensation. Any form of benefit including but not limited to salary, retainer, honoraria, intellectual property rights or royalties, or promised, deferred, or contingent interest. It also includes sponsored travel or reimbursement.

Sponsored or reimbursed travel is included for consistency with Public Health Service regulations and UTS 175 governing conflicts of interest in research (42 CFR Sec. 50.603, definition of “significant financial interest,” at (2). It does not apply to travel that is reimbursed or 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.

Conflict of Commitment. A state in which the time or effort that a U. T. Tyler employee devotes to an outside activity directly or significantly interferes with the employee’s fulfillment of their institutional responsibilities or when the employee uses State property without authority in connection with the employee’s outside employment, board service, or other activity (See Sec. 11; RR 30104). Exceeding the amount of total time permitted by U.T. System or institution policy for outside activities creates the appearance of a conflict of commitment.

Conflict of Interest. A significant outside interest of a U.T. Tyler employee or one of employee’s immediate family members could directly or significantly affect the employee’s performance of the employee’s institutional responsibilities. The proper discharge of an employee’s institutional responsibilities could be directly or significantly affected if the employment, service, activity or interest: (1) might tend to influence the way the employee performs his or her institutional responsibilities, or the employee knows or should know the interest is or has been offered with the intent to influence the employee’s conduct or decisions; (2) could reasonably be expected to impair the employee’s judgment in performing his or her institutional responsibilities, such as receiving gifts; or (3) might require or induce the employee to disclose confidential or proprietary information acquired through the performance of institutional responsibilities.

Employee. Any person actively employed for wages or salary at UT Tyler.

Immediate Family Members. Include: 

  1. a spouse;
  2. a dependent child or stepchild or other dependent, for purposes of determining federal income tax liability during the period covered by the disclosure statement; and
  3. a related or non-related, unmarried adult who resides in the same household as the individual and with whom the individual is financially interdependent as evidenced, for example, by the maintenance of a joint bank account, mortgage, or investments.

Nature and Extent. Shall include a description of the activity, the time commitment, and the anticipated length of time the commitment is expected to continue.

Outside Board. The board, council, or other governing or advisory body of a business, civic, professional, social, or religious organization, whether for profit or nonprofit.

Outside Employment. Any activity performed by an employee, other than fulfilling employment obligations at U.T. Tyler, for which remuneration is received, including distance teaching.

Range of Compensation. Includes a range of outside compensation as follows:

  1. $0 - $4,999;
  2. $5,000 - $9,999;
  3. $10,000 - $19,999;
  4. amounts between $20,000 - $100,000 by increments of $20,000;
  5. amounts above $100,000 by increments of $50,000.
  6. if stock options, number of shares of common stock par value of .01 equaling the percentage of the fully diluted value of the company at time of grant.

Substantial Interest in a Business Entity. For purposes of this policy, means:

  1. a controlling interest;
  2. ownership of more than 10 percent of the voting interest;
  3. ownership of more than $5,000 of the fair market value;
  4. a direct or indirect participating interest by shares, stock, or otherwise, regardless of whether voting rights are included, in more than 10 percent of the profits, proceeds, or capital gains;
  5. service as an officer.

    Not to include investments in mutual funds or retirement accounts, so long as the individual does not directly control the investment decisions made in those vehicles.

Substantial Foreign Relationship.  Any relationship between a U. T. Tyler employee and programs that are sponsored, funded, directed, or controlled by a foreign government, foreign agency, or foreign institution. 

University Time. For faculty, this time is defined by the number of hours per week necessary for the performance of job duties, which include teaching, research, service, and patient care. For some staff this time is defined by a work day with set hours, and for other staff this time is defined as a work day with set hours plus on call service as needed.

D. Policy and Procedures

  1. Outside Activities. Regents’ Rule 30104 permits U. T. employees to engage in outside work or activity, so long as the work or activity complies with the requirements of the Rule and does not violate State laws or U. T. System or U.T. Tyler rules or policies governing the conduct of employees, including ethics standards and provisions prohibiting conflicts of interest, conflicts of commitment, and the use of State resources. (Regents’ Rule 30104, Sec. 2; UTS 180, Sec. 4)

  2. Substantial Foreign Relationships. U. T. Tyler employees must disclose substantial foreign relationships. Substantial foreign relationships are prohibited, unless properly and timely disclosed and managed in accordance with section D.6. of this policy (Regents’ Rule 30104, Sec. 5).

  3. Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment Prohibited.  U.T. Tyler employees may not have a direct or indirect interest, including financial and other interests, or engage in a business transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the employee’s duties for U.T. Tyler. (Regents’ Rule 30104, Sec. 3; UTS 180, Sec. 5)

    Activities on behalf of outside entities or individuals must not interfere with a U.T. Tyler employee’s fulfillment of his/her duties and responsibilities to the University. Such conflicts of commitment may arise regardless of the location of these activities (on or off campus), the type of outside entity (individual, for-profit, not-for-profit, or government), or the level of compensation (compensated or non-compensated.) (Regents’ Rule 301014, Sec. 4; UTS 180, Sec. 5)

  4. Gifts. There are two standards under Texas law governing gifts—(1) a general standard of conduct that applies to all employees and (2) a criminal standard that applies only to those persons who make recommendations or decisions about contracts and other financial transactions.

    1. Under the general standard, a U.T. Tyler employee should not accept or solicit any gift, favor, or service that might reasonably tend to influence the employee in the discharge of official duties or that the employee knows or should know is being offered with the intent to influence official conduct. This standard applies even though the donor is not asking the employee to do something in exchange for the gift. A gift is anything of value, including tickets to entertainment or sporting events, expenses for a trip, and food. Acceptance or solicitation of a gift in violation of this standard is not a criminal offense, but is grounds for discipline, including termination. 
    2. Criminal penalties may apply to persons who make recommendations or decisions about U.T. Tyler financial transactions. If those are an employee’s job duties, that employee may not accept a gift from an individual or entity that is interested in or likely to become interested in that transaction, with limited exceptions. Under these exceptions, it is not a criminal offense to accept the following type of gift if the gift is not given in exchange for the employee’s official action (it is never lawful to accept a gift in exchange for official action): 
      1. Non-cash items worth less than $50.
      2. A gift from a person such as a relative, friend, or business associate with whom the employee has a relationship independent of the employee’s official status, if the gift is given on account of that relationship rather than the employee’s official status.
      3. Food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment in any amount if the employee accepts them as a "guest," which means the donor must be present.* 
    3. Note that even though an employee may accept a gift described above without committing a crime, acceptance of the gift may still violate the general standard of conduct and constitute grounds for discipline. 
    4. Additional restrictions apply if the gift is from a student loan lender. The definition of "student loan lender" is very broad and covers entities that may not traditionally be thought of as student loan lenders. An employee should consult U.T. Tyler’s Chief Legal Officer to determine if the proposed gift from the student loan lender is permissible under the Texas Higher Education Fair Lending Practices Agreement.
    5. It is important to remember that even though the acceptance of a gift may not constitute a crime, it may appear to the public that a gift has influenced an employee in performing their job. An employee should not accept any gift that could appear to influence the employee’s official conduct, even if the gift is technically legal. 
    6. Summary: U.T. Tyler employees should not accept any gift(s) that could appear to influence the employee’s official conduct.

      *The law provides additional prohibitions if the donor is a lobbyist registered with the Texas Ethics Commission. It is advisable to consult the Chief Legal Officer before accepting a gift from a lobbyist.
  5. Disclosure and Approval of Outside Activities (Regents’ Rule 30104, Sec. 5; UTS 180, Sec. 6)
    1. Approval requirements shall apply, at a minimum, to:
      1. all full-time employees;
      2. part-time employees only if the activity reasonably appears to create conflict of interest.
    2. Approval is required prior to engaging in the following activities, except as noted at (c), below, for:
      1. all outside employment or other compensated activities;
      2. all service on outside boards (see Sec. 11, below, for details, including exclusions); and
      3. any uncompensated activity that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment.
    3. Pre-Approved Activities. The following activities are “pre-approved,” such that approval need not be obtained prior to engagement in the activity.
      1. Serving on a federal, state, or local government agency committee, panel, or commission; acting in an editorial capacity for a professional journal; reviewing journal manuscripts, book manuscripts, or grant or contract proposals; attending and presenting talks at scholarly colloquia and conferences; developing scholarly communications in the form of books or journal articles, reviews, movies, television productions, and similar works, even when such activities result in financial gain, consistent with intellectual property and other applicable U. T. System and institution policies and guidelines; and serving as a committee member, an officer, or board member of a professional or scholarly society.
      2. Outside employment during those months in which a member of the faculty appointed on a 9-month basis is not appointed is considered pre-approved, requiring no further approval, unless the outside employment reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest, in which case prior approval is required.
    4. All outside activities, conflicts of interest and commitment must be reported within 30 days of employment with U.T. Tyler. All outside activities, conflicts of interest and commitment entered into by full-time employees that do not require pre-approval must be reported within 30 days of the commencement or manifestation of the activity or conflict. 
    5. Affirmative Statement of Outside Activity. All full-time employees are required to execute the electronic outside activities form on an annual basis.   If the full-time employee is engaged in outside activities where disclosure is required under this policy, the full-time employee must execute the outside activities form detailing those activities. If the full-time employee is not engaged in outside activity and has no outside compensation, the full-time employee shall execute the electronic outside activities form attesting that no disclosure or approval is required.

      [NOTE: Such activity may be required to be disclosed in accord with Sec. 7 below, and may be maintained in an electronic database in accord with Sec. 20, below.]
  6. Disclosure and Approval of Substantial Foreign Relationships
    1. Substantial relationships between any U. T. officer or employee, including a faculty member or researcher, and programs sponsored, funded, directed, or controlled by a foreign government, foreign agency, or foreign institution are prohibited, unless properly and timely disclosed.
    2. All substantial foreign relationships for new U.T. Tyler employees must be disclosed and approved prior to the candidate becoming an employee at U.T. Tyler. All current substantial foreign relationships must be disclosed and approved within 30 days of the adoption of this policy. All new substantial foreign relationships to be entered into by U.T. Tyler employees must be disclosed and pre-approved before the substantial foreign relationship begins.  
  7. Information Required to Be Disclosed.

    1. Employees required to make a disclosure must disclose:
      1. a description of the nature and extent of all outside employment or other compensated activity or substantial foreign relationship;
      2. a description of the nature and extent of any outside activity, regardless of compensation, that has the potential to create a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment;
      3. a description of the nature and extent of any outside (onsite or distance) teaching that is in or related to the same discipline as one’s area of U.T. Tyler teaching responsibilities;
      4. the range of total annual compensation received for any compensated activity, or total annual compensation from a single entity, if it is greater than $5,000 and the activity reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment;
      5. a description of the nature and extent of outside board service, regardless of compensation, (see Sec. 11., below, for details, including exclusions);
      6. a description, including the range of compensation or interest, of any substantial interest in a business entity (as defined in Sec. C. above) that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest, which should be provided no later than 30 days after acquiring the interest;
      7. a description of gifts over $250 to the individual or his or her immediate family members, but only if they reasonably appear to create a conflict of interest, which should be provided no later than 30 days after acquiring the gift. Do not include gifts received from: one’s parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild; one’s spouse or the spouse of anyone mentioned above; or the parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild of one’s spouse;
      8. a description of the nature and extent of any activity of immediate family members that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest and a description of any substantial interest of immediate family members in a business entity (as defined in Sec. C., above) that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest, which should be provided no later than 30 days after acquiring the interest.
      9. Outside activity disclosed under HOP 2.5.5, Conflicts of Interest in Research, need not be re-disclosed.

        *NOTE: When in doubt in determining whether an activity or interest should be disclosed, the individual should resolve the doubt in favor of disclosure.

  8. Guidelines for Reviewing and Approving Requests to Engage in Outside Activity and Substantial Foreign Relationships.

    Approval Authorities. The President has appointed the following individuals as the approval authorities under this policy:

    1. For members of the faculty: Department Chair and Dean

    2. For deans and department chairs: the Provost

    3. For executive officers: the President, or for the President, the Executive Vice Chancellor

    4. For all other employees: the supervisor and appropriate vice president

  9. Faculty Time.

    Members of the faculty have flexibility in using their time to prepare for teaching and engage in research and other scholarly activity. Other responsibilities, such as presenting lectures, being available to meet with students, and participating in university committees, have more rigid time demands. During the academic term in which a faculty member holds a full-time appointment, the faculty member must attend to all their duties and responsibilities and meet the minimum academic workload requirements, but may be permitted to engage in an average of no more than 8 hours of all approved outside activity during university time (defined in Sec. C. above) each week, so long as the activity does not reasonably appear to create a conflict of interest, does not interfere with the faculty member’s U.T. Tyler’s duties and responsibilities, and clearly contributes to the mission of U.T. Tyler or provides important elements of faculty professional development related to their U.T. Tyler’s duties and responsibilities.

    NOTE: The maximum amount of time set by the institution may be expressed in time or percent of appointment but under no circumstances may the total of outside activity during university time exceed an average of one day per week during the term of an appointment, without the explicit approval of the President and a written management plan.

  10. Categories of Outside Faculty Activity.

    1. Some activity is so integral to the mission of U.T. Tyler that it is encouraged, and may be performed on university time (defined in Sec. C. above) and may be considered pre-approved, so long as the activity does not reasonably appear to create a conflict of interest and the amount of time committed does not interfere with faculty member’s U.T. Tyler duties and responsibilities. This may include activities such as the following:

      1. Serving on a federal, state, or local government agency committee, panel, or commission.

      2. Acting in an editorial capacity for a professional journal.

      3. Reviewing journal manuscripts, book manuscripts, or grant or contract proposals.

      4. Attending and presenting talks at scholarly colloquia and conferences.

      5. Developing scholarly communications in the form of books or journal articles, movies, television productions, archival databases, and similar works, even when such activities result in financial gain, consistent with intellectual property and other applicable U. T. System and institution policies and guidelines.

      6. Serving as a committee member, an officer, or a board member of a professional or scholarly society.

    2. A category of outside faculty activity that, when disclosed and approved, is permitted, can be encouraged, and may be performed during the university time permitted under Sec. 9, above includes:

      Engaging in professional activity such as providing expert testimony, providing consulting services, professional/clinical practice, and serving on a board of directors, but only when such activity clearly contributes to the mission of U.T. Tyler or provides important elements of faculty professional development related to the faculty member’s U.T. Tyler duties and responsibilities, and the activity does not reasonably appear to create a conflict of interest and does not interfere with the faculty member’s U.T. Tyler duties and responsibilities.

    3. Faculty members may also engage in activity that does not necessarily contribute to the mission of U.T. Tyler or provide elements of faculty professional development related to their U.T. Tyler duties and responsibilities, so long as it does not reasonably appear to create a conflict of interest or interfere with the faculty member’s U.T. Tyler duties and responsibilities. Any such activity must take place only on non-U.T. Tyler time, without use of U.T. Tyler resources, and is disclosed and approved as required by this policy.

  11. Accounting for Outside Board Service.

    1. Uncompensated Outside Board Service of Direct Benefit to U.T., other than scholarly boards pre-approved under Sec. D.5.c.i. above. Regents’ Rule 30104 recognizes the benefit to be derived by U. T. institutions from outside board service. After thorough consideration of the time commitment, certain service on outside boards may be deemed to be of sufficient benefit to U.T. Tyler that certain service may be performed on university time. The service:

      1. must be service on a nonreligious board;

      2. must be uncompensated (other than for reimbursement of usual and customary expenses);

      3. requires prior approval;

      4. requires disclosure.

    2. Compensated Board Service or Service to a Religious Organization. Service on an outside board for which the employee is compensated and any service to a religious organization whether or not compensated must be on the individual’s own time.

      1. If the service occurs during normal office hours, the individual must use vacation time, compensatory time, or other appropriate leave or approved arrangements while providing the service.

      2. The service must be without cost to U. T. System or its institutions.

      3. Service to a local religious congregation that is primarily personal does not require prior approval and does not need to be disclosed, regardless of compensation. Service on the board of a religious organization that provides services that the employee’s U.T. institution provides, such as a religious hospital or academic institution, requires prior approval and must be disclosed.

      4. Compensated service on a nonreligious board requires prior approval and must be disclosed, except as noted at (c), below.

    3. Board Service or Activity that is Personal. Participation (regardless of compensation) on outside boards or activity in which the service is primarily personal rather than professional in nature and is done on one’s own time is permitted without the requirement of approval or disclosure if it does not create a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment or the appearance of a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment. Examples include boards of the following nature—a municipality; local religious congregation; neighborhood association; public, private or parochial school; political organization; social advocacy organization; youth sports or recreation league; affinity group such as the local orchid society or model train collectors club; and other similar outside boards.

  12. Management Plans. Management plans must be in place for all employees for outside activities that may create a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment before activity begins. Management plans must be in place for all employees for all substantial foreign relationships. For employees below Vice President, management plans will be developed by the employee’s supervisor and approved by appropriate Vice President. For Vice Presidents, management plans will be developed by the Chief Compliance Officer and approved by the President. 

  13. Appeals. Individuals whose request for approval of outside activity or substantial foreign relations which is denied may request that the denying authority reconsider the decision and provide an explanation in writing. If the individual remains unsatisfied with the decision, he or she may access standard grievance procedures to the extent that they are otherwise applicable.

  14. Prospect and Retrospective Approval. In rare instance, outside activity may be approved retrospectively when the individual is called upon to assist in an emergency or urgent situation where it would be impossible or unreasonable to obtain advance approval. In such cases, the activity must be fully disclosed and approval sought from the appropriate authority as soon as reasonably possible.

    Some activity may also be prospectively approved, for up to one year, when an individual describes to the approving authority as fully as reasonably possible the general nature and extent of anticipated, but not confirmed, outside opportunities. In any event, whether previously approved or not, employees should ensure they notify their chair, dean, or supervisor in advance when they will be missing specific responsibilities.

  15. Confidential Outside Activity. If an individual wishes to engage in an activity for which some or all of the relevant information is confidential, the approving authority may nonetheless approve the activity without requiring full written disclosure upon satisfaction that there is a compelling reason to treat the information confidentially and the activity is otherwise fully compliant with this policy and all other applicable laws and U.T. Tyler and U. T. System policies.

  16. Rescinding Approvals. An approving authority may rescind an approved outside activity or substantial foreign relationship upon receipt of information indicating that the activity is not consistent with this policy or any applicable law or U.T. Tyler or U. T. System policy. The individual for whom the activity may be rescinded shall be given notice of the information and an opportunity to respond.

  17. Noncompliance. Noncompliance with this policy may subject one to discipline in accord with applicable procedures up to and including termination of employment.

  18. Use of University Property. U.T. Tyler property may only be used for State purposes appropriate to U.T. Tyler’s mission, except as allowed as Incidental Use by the U.T. Tyler Information Resources Acceptable Use and Security Policy agreement. (Regents’ Rule 30104 Sec. 8) Use of U.T. Tyler property for any outside activity must be explicitly approved in writing by the approving authority. 

  19. Education and Training. New employees will receive computer-based compliance training upon employment and every other year thereafter. Budget Authorities will receive in person training upon becoming a budget authority and every other year thereafter. The Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment, and Outside Activities Policy will be emailed to all employees in the spring of each academic year. 

  20. Electronic Database.

    1. Items Included in Internal UT System Electronic Database. Disclosure of a substantial foreign relationship or outside activity, documentation of requests for approval, and subsequent approvals shall be maintained for all employees in an electronic database that will include the following elements:
      1. a description of the nature and extent of all outside employment or other compensated activity and of all outside activity, regardless of compensation level, that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment or a description of the nature and extent of a substantial foreign relationship;
      2. the range of total annual compensation received for any compensated activity, or total annual compensation from a single entity, if it is greater than $5,000 and the activity reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment;
      3. a description of the nature and extent of outside board service, except as noted at 15. (b)(iii) and 11. (c);
      4. a description, including the range of compensation or interest of any substantial interest in a business entity (as defined in Sec. C, above) that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest;
      5. a description of gifts over $250 to the individual, but only if the gift reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest, and it is not a gift from one’s spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild; or from the spouse of a parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild; or from the parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild of one’s spouse;
      6. for part-time employees, a description or the nature and extent of any outside activity and any substantial interest in a business entity that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest or a description of the nature and extent of a substantial foreign relationship. 
    2. Public Display of Information. Only the following information must be available on a publicly accessible and searchable website:
      1. The nature and extent of the activity, and the range of compensation if over $5,000, for all managed conflicts of interest or conflicts of commitment, unless deemed confidential following procedures developed in accord with Sec. 15., above;
      2. all information disclosed by the Chancellor, U.T. System Executive Officers, and Presidents pursuant to UTS180, Sec. 5.2.
      3. instructions for gaining access to a copy of any conflict management plan, except for any confidential information protected pursuant to Sec. 12, above.
      4. information regarding family members will not be posted publicly.
  21. Procurement and Contract Management Conflicts of Interest.  Each University employee who is involved in procurement, vendor selection, or contract management for the University shall disclose to their direct supervisor in writing:
    1. any conflict of interests with respect to any contract or procurement with a private vendor or bid for the purchase of goods or services from a private vendor by the University; and
    2. any agreement or arrangement with an outside person or entity that could present the appearance of a conflict of interest with respect to any contract or procurement with a private vendor or bid for the purchase of goods or services from a private vendor by the University.

E. Responsibilities

The primary responsibility of employees of U.T. Tyler is the accomplishment of the duties and responsibilities assigned to one’s position of appointment. (Regents’ Rule 30104, Sec. 1; UTS 180, Sec. 3)

F. Relevant System Policies, Procedures, and Forms

Board of Regents’ Rule 30104, Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outside Activities

Board of Regents’ Rule 60306, Use of University Resources

UTS 123, Policy on Service on Outside Boards

UTS 134, Code of Ethics for Financial Officers and Employees

UTS 175, Disclosure of Significant Financial Interests and Management and Reporting of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research

UTS 180 Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment, and Outside Activities

Texas Penal Code §36

 

G. Relevant Federal and State Statutes

Texas Government Code Chapter 572 – Personal Financial Disclosure, Standards of Conduct, and Conflict of Interest.

Texas Government Code Chapter 574, - Dual Office Holding

Texas Constitution, Article 16, Section 40 - Holding More Than One Office

H. Review

This policy shall be reviewed every five years or as legislation requires by the Vice President of Budget and Finance and the Vice President of Operations.

APPROVED:  11/11/13

AMENDED:  07/2019

AMENDED: 01/2021