Consistent with the innovative environment at NC State University, the institution encourages and promotes the transfer of knowledge through relationships with outside businesses, scholarly publications and the creation and licensing of intellectual property. It is always important for the University to properly steward public trust in our ability to preserve and protect knowledge, know-how and truth. In the entrepreneurial environment of NC State University’s research enterprise, however, commitment to objectivity becomes critically important and requires the establishment of a carefully controlled and monitored process of ensuring that we meet, and where possible exceed this fundamental compact. With the assistance of federal and state regulations, NC State University has implemented the Conflicts of Interest and Commitment (COIC) policy that assists employees who are on the forefront of what has come to be known as “innovation in action.”

Examples of relationships that require disclosure and a management plan include:

Having a significant financial interest in a firm that:

  1. sponsors projects at the University, or
  2. hires students or other university employees, or,
  3. sells merchandise or services to the university, or,
  4. Authoring textbooks or other course materials required for purchase by NC State students, or,
  5. Refer to the regulation for a more comprehensive list of examples

When a real or perceived conflict of interest is disclosed a management plan articulating how to mitigate the risks of impaired objectivity must be created.  These plans are developed by the disclosing employee in close collaboration and under the guidance of the department/unit head and the Associate Dean for Research or comparable official within the college or unit.

Management plans establish the operating parameters to be followed when a disclosing party engages an external business or entity in which the employee has a significant financial interest.  Such external engagements include sponsorship of the employee’s university research, outreach or extension activities or certain other programmatic transactions.  For example, consider a member of the faculty that starts a small business related to the research activities of her University appointment.  If that faculty member’s company desires to contract with the University for research, outreach or extension activities then a management plan is required.

Management plans may also be required when employees who are authors of textbooks (a highly desirable scenario for the University) or other course materials require students enrolled in courses for which the employee-author is the instructor of record to purchase that text for the course.  Naturally, the employee-author would select his or her own textbook, as it was likely written for the subject course.  Disclosure of employee-authored, textbooks and course materials required for purchase by students mitigates risks of perceived impropriety.  Additionally, management plans must be developed to determine how the University will make decisions about the procurement of employee-owned intellectual property (IP), what the royalty arrangements will be and how objectivity will be assured regarding development and use of the licensed IP.

Issues to address in Management Plans [1]

  • Disclosing future developments in the external relationship to the institution
  • Disclosing certain aspects about the relationship to third parties such as sponsors, journals, prospective donors
  • Scope and nature of permissible activities (such as hiring University students in the outside endeavor or serving as principal investigator on projects funded by the external concern)
  • Identification of the approvers of covered activities?
  • Acknowledgement of compliance with law, regulation and institutional policy
  • Communication with government regulators (such as the FDA, EPA, USDA or CDC)
  • Definition of key terms used in or necessary to understand and follow the management plan
  • If an oversight committee will be used, specification of its:
    1. Membership
    2. Functions
    3. Frequency of reports
    4. Reports contents
    5. Frequency of meetings
    6. Reporting delegation (to whom do reports go)
    7. Scope of its authority (e.g., decide, recommend)
    8. Method for receipt of complete, accurate and timely information
  • Assignment of students and trainees to research or other scholarly activities, sponsored or not sponsored (such as Analysis and Testing Agreements, Service Center Work, Sponsored Activities, etc.)
  • Conditions for the sale or transfer of equity when the institution has an equity interest
  • Use of institutional name in commercial activity
  • Use of institutional facilities and resources for consulting activities
  • Participation in institutional decisions on transactions with outside entities in which the employee has a significant financial interest
  • Term of the plan (generally, plans are valid for one year from filing or from the filing date until June 30 whichever is shorter, and must be updated annually thereafter).
  • Conditions under which the plan may be amended
  • Management Plan Template for Faculty with Interests with an External Entity that Sponsors Research or Testing with the University
  • Examples of Publication Disclosure Statements for Conflicts of Interest provides examples of public disclosures for use in publications, posters, meetings, symposia or conferences for reporting financial relationships.

[1] Adapted from NCURA – Reference Email of 09/06/2007 – from NCURATV, June 2007, “COI – How to Spot and Manage It”