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Conflict of Interest

Contacts

  • Conflict of Interest Coordinator: Molly Stoufer, Requirements Program Manager, Office of Assurance and Integrity, 510-486-5820 coi@lbl.gov
  • Conflict of Interest in Tech Transfer/Licensing: Elsie Quaite Randall, Chief Technology Transfer Officer, Innovation and Partnerships Office (IPO), 510-486-7234; EQuaiteRandall@lbl.gov
  • Employee-Vendor Relationships: Procurement and Property Management, 510-495-8186; cfo-businessassurancehelp@lbl.gov
  • Conflict of Interest in Human Subjects Research: Christine Byrne, Human & Animal Regulatory Committees, 510-486-5507; CEByrne@lbl.gov

How To Request Approval of Compensated Outside Activity

Note: These requirements apply to Laboratory employees. This includes rehired retirees, and UC Faculty engaged in designing, proposing, supervising, managing, perfoming, or reporting work under the UC/DOE Contract to operate Berkeley Lab, regardless of specific funding source, time paid or percent time employed.

Getting Started with a Compensated Outside Professional Activity (COPA) Request

When is a COPA request required?
What counts as compensation
What to have available to submit a request
Written agreements
Approval process and timeline
Sample work statements (TBD)

When is a COPA request required?
Berkeley Lab policy requires that employees* obtain approval before engaging in certain compensated (more about this below) outside activities in the area of their Berkeley Lab work. If you are considering engaging in consulting, serving on science advisory boards or boards of directors, outside employment, or providing advisory services, you need to get institutional approval prior to engaging in the outside work.

This process is not required for payments for speeches and other one-time activities of a similar nature, nor for expert witness testimony.

This process is also not required for outside work clearly unrelated to an employee’s Berkeley Lab role, such as retail sales, ranching, residential real estate sales, etc.

Employees must submit a separate request for each outside activity and organization (i.e. you cannot submit a single request to consult with multiple organizations).

*Rehired retirees, faculty appointees, and employees at any all types of appointments and levels of effort are all required to get approval for outside activity under this process.

What counts as compensation?
Income, wages and salary are all considered compensation. Stock, stock options, or other forms of equity and ownership are considered compensation, even if the equity currently has no value. Gifts given for work performed (such as travel beyond reasonable business travel) are compensation.

What to have available to submit a request
To submit a COPA request, you will need basic information about the outside activity, such as the number of hours per month you expect to commit to the outside work, and how much compensation you expect to receive. You will need to provide a clear, detailed statement of the work you expect to perform (see examples below), and a clear statement of your Berkeley Lab responsibilities and the work you do here (again, examples below).

Please note that all employees must complete their own requests online. Staff cannot submit a request on behalf of another employee. As these requests are for an employee's work outside of Berkeley Lab, the employee is the single individual most knowledgeable about the details of the request. In submitting a request, an employee is 1) expected to certify that the data is accurate, and 2) that they understand the policies related to outside work.

Written agreements
If the outside organization offers you a written agreement of any kind, you will need to provide it for review by Berkeley Lab’s patent attorneys before signing it. This includes consulting or employment agreements, intellectual property acknowledgements, and any other written agreement. It doesn’t include W-2s, 1099 forms, and similar tax or payroll documents. Do not submit personally identifiable information (PII) with your request. If any required documents include PII, redact that information before you submit the request for approval. You can expedite this portion of the review by asking the outside entity to include the following language in the written agreement: “It is recognized that (1) [Consultant, Advisor, Employee] is an employee of the University of California engaged in certain work conducted by the University at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC02-05CH11231 with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and (2) the University has rights to patents and other intellectual property arising from Consultant’s services for that work. This consulting agreement is subject to those rights notwithstanding any intellectual property obligations to contrary in this agreement. Whenever any invention or discovery is solely or jointly made, conceived, or developed by Consultant under the Consulting Agreement, the Company must promptly furnish the University and DOE with sufficient information to timely determine whether the invention or discovery is within the purview of the patent agreement executed by Consultant with the University

Approval process and timeline
Once you submit a request, it will be routed for review and approval as follows: Supervisor -> Patent Attorneys (if written agreement present) -> Division Director -> Assurance and Integrity (A&I)/Conflict of Interest office When certain facts are present*, A&I will route the request to the Lab’s Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee (COIAC) for review, and then to the Laboratory Deputy Director for final approval. If such review is required, approval may take several weeks, as the COIAC meets monthly. Employees may not engage in compensated outside professional activities without institutional approval, and may be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply with the requirements. *these include any of the following: a significant ownership interest, a current or prospective business relationship - SPP, technology license, or supplier - between Berkeley Lab and the outside organization, compensation above $10k, and any other employees in your management chain working for the same organization.

Sample work statements
To be developed

Request approval: Compensated Outside Professional Activity Request

 

link to forms

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Policies and Regulations

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LBNL Policies

Requirements and Policies Manual (RPM)

Conflict of Interest — General
Compensated Outside Professional Activities

Outside business opportunities are extremely varied and include, but are not limited to, outside employment, consulting, and service on a Science Advisory Board or Board of Directors. Reporting and approval requirements apply to all employees, including faculty and rehired retirees, regardless of percent time employed at LBNL. Use this link to request approval: Compensated Outside Professional Activity Written agreements between LBNL employees and outside entitites are to be reviewed and approved by Innovations and Partnerships Office prior to being signed by LBNL employees.

Self-Disqualification
Designated Employees
Employment of Near Relatives and Domestic Partners
Federal Financial Disclosure - NIH, PHS
Federal Financial Disclosure - Other Federal Agencies except DOE
State of California Financial Disclosure - Private Sponsors of Research
Technology Transfer/Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) COI
Human Subjects Conflict of Interest
Disclosure of Financial Interests Relating to Licensing
Personal Gifts or Favors

Link to Forms

LBNL Procurement Standard Practices

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University Policy

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CONTRACT 31

Org COIClause I.66 - Department of Energy Acquisition Regulations (DEAR) 952.209-72 Organizational Conflict of Interest (AUG 2009) (Alternate I)

"The purpose of this clause is to ensure that the Contractor (1) is not biased because of its financial, contractual, organizational, or other interests which relate to the work under [Contract 31], and (2) does not obtain any unfair competitive advantage over other parties by virtue of its performance of this contract."

See Organizational COI Power Point (in pdf).

Clause I.78 (DEAR 970.0371) Conduct of Employees

970.0371-4 Gratuities: Employees shall not accept gratuities under circumstances that might be interpreted as an attempt to influence a decision.

970.0371-6, 7, 8 Outside Employment: Must not interfere with proper and effective performance of Laboratory duties, appear to create a conflict of interest, or appear to subject DOE or the University to public criticism or embarrassment. (Follow approval process at RRM 10.02.) If an employee's personal concerns are not compatible with the interests of the Government in a particular matter, the employee must recuse himself or herself from influencing the decision. Employees are expected to disclose to the Laboratory any incompatibilities between their Laboratory duties and their private interests.

Clause I.92 - DEAR 970.5227-3 Technology Transfer Mission (Deviation Per AL 10-2006)

"This clause has as its purpose implementation of the National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act of 1989 (Sections 3131, 3132, 3133, and 3157 of Pub.L. 101-189 and as ameded by Pub. L. 103-160, sections 3134 and 3160). The contractor shall conduct technology transfer activities with a purpose of providing benefit from Federal research to U.S. industrial competiveness."
See specifically, section (d) Conflicts of Interest - Technology Transfer, section (e) Fairness of Opportunity, (f) U.S. Industrial Competitiveness for Licensing and Assignments of Intellectual Property. More information is available from the LBNL Innovations and Partnerships Office.

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State of California Law As applied to UC

Under the California Political Reform Act of 1974 (PRA), all public agencies are required to adopt a conflict of interest code that designates positions required to file Statements of Economic Interests (Form 700), and assigns disclosure categories specifying the types of interests to be reported. The Form 700 is a public document intended to alert public officials and members of the public to the types of financial interests that may create conflicts of interests. Accordingly, UC's Conflict of Interest Code requires that certain Laboratory officials called Designated Officials disclose their private economic interests and that all Laboratory employees disqualify themselves from participating in decisions in which they have a personal financial interest. The University's approved COI Code has the force of law and any violation of the Code by a designated employee is deemed a violation of the Political Reform Act. The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) administers, interprets and enforces the PRA, including fining individuals for instances of non-compliance.

Designated Officials are required to file Assuming Office, Annual, and Leaving Office Statements of Economic Interest (Form 700). Assuming Office and Leaving Office Statements are coordinated by the LBNL Human Resources Department; Annual Statements are coordinated by the University of California Conflict of Interest Office, which is the office of record for these statements. In addition, University employees may be subject to post-employment restrictions.

One-Year Ban. First, the [Political Reform] Act prohibits [designated] officials, for one year after leaving [UC] service, from representing any other person by appearing before or communicating with, for compensation, [UC] in an attempt to influence [UC] decisions that involve the making of general rules (such as regulations or legislation), or to influence certain proceedings involving a permit, license, contract, or transaction involving the sale or purchase of property or goods. (Government Code section 87406 ; Regs. 18746.1 and 18746.2.)

Permanent Ban on "Switching Sides." Second, under the Act, [designated] officials are permanently barred from working on the other side of a proceeding that they participated in while working for [UC]. An official may not represent any other person (by appearing before or communicating with) and may not aid, advise, counsel, consult or assist in representing any other person, for compensation, before any state administrative agency in a proceeding involving specific parties (for example, a lawsuit, a hearing before an administrative law judge, or a state contract) in which the official participated. (Sections 87400-87405; Reg. 18741.1.)

Prospective Employers. The Act also prohibits [University employees] from making, participating in making, or influencing a governmental decision that directly relates to a prospective employer. (Section 87407; Reg. 18747.)

State of California Related Links:

COI Forms

For Designated Officials under the UC Conflict of Interest Code

For Sponsored Research

For Outside Business Activity

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The following or equivalent language is required to be included in written outside activity agreements that address intellectual property. Contact the Innovations and Partnerships Office with any questions.

“It is recognized that (1) Consultant is an employee of the University of California engaged in certain work conducted by the University at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC02-05CH11231 with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and (2) the University has rights to patents and other intellectual property arising from Consultant’s services for that work.  This consulting agreement is subject to those rights notwithstanding any intellectual property obligations to contrary in this agreement.  Whenever any invention or discovery is solely or jointly made, conceived, or developed by Consultant under the Consulting Agreement, the Company must promptly furnish the University and DOE with sufficient information to timely determine whether the invention or discovery is within the purview of the patent agreement executed by Consultant with the University.”

Compliance Briefing: UC Ethical Values and Conduct, and Conflict of Interest for Researchers

This briefing will take approximately 40 – 60 minutes to complete. If required to take this module, you will have received an automatic link from the Learning Management System for course completion. The purpose of the briefing is to reinforce the University of California Statement of Ethical Values and Standards of Ethical Conduct (pdf) and provide information about reporting instances of non-compliance. In addition, this briefing will satisfy funding agency requirements to train researchers on conflict of interest in the research setting.

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)

LBNL is a participating organization of the CITI Program, a service that provides research ethics education to members of the research community. CITI offers courses that satisfy certain Human Subject and Lab Animal training requirements, as well as a number of courses on an optional basis. There is a Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course available that fulfills NSF RCR requirements for researchers and staff at any level. To register as a CITI user, you must select your institution or organization; choose "Other DOE” to affiliate yourself with LBNL. Maintain your proof of completion.

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Frequently Asked Questions

LBNL Conflict of Interest Review (Research)

  1. What are "financial interests" under the LBNL Conflict of Interest Policy?
  2. Who must disclose? What financial interests must be disclosed?
  3. What is a financial conflict of interest?
  4. Is a financial interest automatically a conflict of interest?
  5. Who reviews financial disclosures?
  6. What happens if the Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee determines that a conflict of interest exists?

1. What are "financial interests" under the LBNL Conflict of Interest Policy? A financial interest is anything of economic value, including a fiduciary relationship with an outside entity. While not an exhaustive list, examples of financial interests include positions such as director, officer, partner, founder, consultant or manager of an entity (whether paid or unpaid); scientific advisory board or technical advisory board membership; salaries; consulting income; stock or stock options (vested or not vested); honoraria; gifts; loans; and travel payments.

Disclosable income does not include monies received from the University of California. It also does not include monies derived from licensing fees or royalty income paid to UC by the research sponsor. Salary paid by the University (including LBNL) is not considered disclosable personal income even if it is derived from support provided by the research sponsor.

2. Who must disclose? What financial interests must be disclosed? Disclosures fall under 4 main categories: Compensated Outside Professional Activities, Sponsored Research, Technology Transfer, and Designated Official Filings. Depending on the kind of disclosure, different interests must be disclosed. In brief:
Compensated Outside Professional Activities – all employees, including part time employees and faculty members, must disclose compensated outside professional activities, including but not limited to employment, positions of ownership and/or management, and equity holdings
Sponsored Research – PIs and others with responsibility for the design, conduct or reporting of research must disclose interests in sponsors of research, and for some federally sponsored research, interests in related entities
Technology Transfer – inventors must disclose interests in potential licensees of Laboratory technology
Designated Official Filings – employees who are Designated Officials under UC’s Conflict of Interest code must disclose interests upon assuming office, annually, and upon leaving office. Post-employment restrictions apply.

3. What is a financial conflict of interest? A financial conflict of interest is a situation in which an objective layperson might perceive that an individual’s financial relationships may compromise the individual’s professional judgment in performing their responsibilities to conduct research, procure goods or services, or otherwise make decisions on behalf of the Laboratory. For example, an investigator may have a financial conflict of interest if he or she is a consultant to the company sponsoring research in his or her laboratory. Another example is an employee who wants to purchase services from a company in which he or she has significant equity.

4. Is a financial interest automatically a conflict of interest? Not necessarily. Some argue that any financial interest in a company automatically puts the individual into a situation where there is a conflict with his or her research responsibilities. Others believe that some financial interests are so minimal and/or inconsequential that they do not constitute conflicts of interest. It is important to note that:
• Some financial interests fall below the thresholds for reporting.
• Some reportable financial interests do not require further action because they are considered so inconsequential that they are unlikely to influence an investigator’s behavior. In such cases the COIAC will recommend that research support be accepted with no further action.
• Even if a financial interest is determined to constitute a significant conflict the COIAC considers whether there are viable methods to manage, reduce or eliminate the conflict.

5. Who reviews financial disclosures? The Laboratory Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee (COIAC) is a panel of scientists from disciplines across the Laboratory. They review disclosures of financial interests that have the potential to represent significant conflicts of interest that must be eliminated, reduced or managed. The Committee determines an appropriate strategy for management of any significant conflict, and makes recommendations to the Laboratory Deputy Director. Disclosures of financial interests are public documents available to members of the public and to the Department of Energy upon request.

6. What happens if the Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee determines that a conflict of interest exists? If the Committee determines that the disclosed financial interests constitute a real or perceived conflict of interest, they will recommend actions designed to eliminate, reduce, or manage the conflict. In some instances, the Committee may simply recommend disclosing the interest in all publications and presentations. Depending on the facts, the Committee may also recommend other measures such as divestiture of all equity interest in the sponsor or elimination of any consulting arrangement with the sponsor. Additional measures may include the appointment of an ad hoc oversight committee to provide ongoing monitoring of the issue.

Please address any further questions to coi@lbl.gov.

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Last updated 08/30/2017
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