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Conflict of Interest

The University of North Georgia expects that all of its employees are committed to the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct. Part of maintaining an ethical culture is properly managing outside activities and avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest.

The University of North Georgia complies with the USG Board of Regents Policy Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment, and Outside Activities. 

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest arises when an employee is in a position to influence, either directly or indirectly, university business, research or other decisions, in ways that could lead to gain for the employee, the employee’s family or others to the detriment of the university’s integrity and its mission of academic excellence, research and public service.

Conflict of Commitment

A conflict of commitment arises when the outside activities of an employee are so substantial or demanding of the employee’s time and attention as to interfere with the individual’s responsibilities to the department in which the individual works, to students, or to the university.

Outside Activities

Outside activities may be defined as any paid or volunteer activity undertaken by a UNG employee outside the scope of their employment with the university. Outside activities may include (but are not limited to) consulting, participation in civic or charitable organizations, working as a technical or professional advisor or practitioner, or holding a part-time job with another employer, whether working in one’s UNG occupation or another. Employees wishing to engage in outside activities must obtain approval prior to beginning the outside activity.

What are the Reporting Requirements for Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment and Outside Activities?

Employees are required to complete the University of North Georgia Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outside Activities Training Module and Disclosure Form upon initial hire and annually thereafter.

Employees wishing to engage in outside activities must obtain approval prior to beginning the outside activity by completing the University of North Georgia Request to Engage in Outside Activities Form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do these rules apply to all employees including faculty, staff, part-time, and temporary employees?

Yes. The rules requiring disclosure and management of conflicts of interest apply to everyone. The rules requiring prior approval for outside activities also apply to everyone.

Do I need to take leave to engage in outside activities?

Possibly; it depends upon the demands of the outside activity. Any special considerations, such as taking leave, will be determined during the outside activities pre-approval process.

How will conflicts of interest be managed?

The most effective management plan for a conflict of interest will be to avoid it. In other words, for the faculty or staff member to arrange their affairs so that there is no conflict of interest.

However, with UNG’s prior written permission, certain conflicts may be able to be managed in other ways. This depends greatly on the individual facts of each case, but management plans can include elements such as:

  • disclosure and transparency to everyone affected by the conflict;
  • monitoring of the conflict by an impartial party;
  • limiting an employee’s involvement in certain decisions (i.e., recusal);
  • requiring additional approvals before certain actions can be taken;
  • obtaining informed consent from affected parties;
  • reporting and auditing of facts surrounding the conflict.

I have a relative who also works at UNG. Is this a conflict of interest?

It can be, depending on the facts. If one of you reports to the other in the supervisory sense, then that reporting structure would be a conflict of interest.

However, even without a direct reporting relationship, there can still be a conflict of interest if one of you can influence the other’s work, or if a particular event creates a conflict. For example, if one employee’s job duties involve oversight or influence over the assignments, compensation, working conditions or other aspects of their relative’s work, then there is a conflict of interest, even if they are in different chains of command.

For a more specific example, an employee in fiscal services should not approve payroll changes or expense reimbursements for their spouse who works in a different department at UNG. And, two faculty members who are related and who work in different colleges would not normally have a conflict of interest, but they would if one of them is up for promotion and the other serves on the university-wide promotion and tenure committee.

I am active in politics. Do I need approval for that?

Possibly. If the work is both compensated and related to your UNG duties, or if the work is uncompensated and will take place during your normal UNG work time, you will need approval.

Your request will never be approved or disapproved based on the political cause or candidate you wish to support.

Outside of my UNG working hours, I volunteer in the community and with charitable organizations. Do I need approval for that?

Possibly. Uncompensated outside activities only require approval if they will take place during your normal UNG working hours, or if they will otherwise interfere with your UNG work.

Remember that if these activities create a conflict of interest with UNG, then you will always need to disclose that activity. So, if these activities are unpaid, and are performed outside of your UNG work hours, and do not use UNG resources, and do not create a conflict of interest, then approval is not required.

As a faculty member, do these rules apply to me when I am off-contract?

The conflicts of interest rules always apply.

The rules requiring approval for outside activities do not apply during the summer gap between academic year contracts.

These rules do apply throughout the effective dates of the academic year contract (i.e., there is no exception for holidays or weekends). Also, if a faculty member has a summer contract, then the rules apply during the effective dates of those contracts.

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