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MSUE Administrative Handbook: Human Resources

  

 

SUBJECT:

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

 

 

POLICY:

Employees are prohibited from direct or indirect financial or other personal gain that is in conflict with his/her Extension duties, or responsibilities.   Employees are to avoid participation in matters in which conflict of interest exists, is perceived to exist, or in situations in which a conflict is likely to arise.

 

 

APPLIES TO:

All MSUE Staff

 

 

TYPES:

  1. Financial
  2. Employment of Relatives
  3. Partisan and Non-Partisan Public Boards and Committees
  4. Endorsement of Commercial Goods, Products or Services

PROVISIONS/RESTRICTIONS:

 

   

      1.   Conflicts of Interest - Financial Interests:

The professional expertise of staff is expected to be devoted principally to the performance of their work-related obligations to MSUE and the university.  Staff can render valuable service to the outside community and provide an important ongoing link between the University and business, industry, professional groups, government and other public or private organizations.  When acting in the role of an Extension staff member, the employee is not to accept personal compensation for their delivery of programs or information.  Neither are they to utilize their Extension appointment or organizational resources to generate extra personal income for themselves.

This does not preclude an Extension employee from having a financial interest or engaging in financial transaction to the same extent as a private citizen not employed by Extension, so long as the interest is not represented as part of the Extension assignment or utilizes Extension resources in the conduct of the effort.  Extension staff may have opportunities for consulting and application of their professional advice beyond what would normally be extended in their roles as a MSUE staff member.  In these cases, the Consulting-for-Pay Policy should be followed and appropriate request/approval forms submitted.

2.      Conflicts of Interest - Employment of Relatives:
Standards for hiring, promotion, reappointment, evaluation, working conditions, responsibilities, salary and termination for all employees at Michigan State University Extension are based on ability, qualifications for the position, and performance. Relationship to another individual employed by the University and/or Extension shall not constitute a bar to hiring, promotion or reappointment; provided, however, that no employee shall be under the direct supervision or control of a "relative." In addition, "relatives" should not participate in roles which have the potential for influencing employment decisions, e.g., peer review.

No employee shall be assigned to a unit or department under the direct supervision or control of a "relative" without prior authorization. Preferential treatment will not be given to "relatives" of employees. Standards for hiring, promotion, reappointment, evaluation, working conditions, responsibilities, salary and termination for all employees must be based on ability, qualifications for the position, and performance. At least two levels of supervision should separate "relatives" employed in the same unit. However, more levels of supervision may be necessary if objectivity is impaired. A "relative" should not approve travel or expenditures or participate in employee review/evaluation.

Employment of "relatives" in the same unit or department or under the same supervisor may be authorized only with the prior written approval of the unit administrator and the Associate Provost for Academic Human Resources or the Director of Human Resource Services, as appropriate. A Conflict of Interest in Employment form should be completed by the requesting unit.

A relationship between individuals or "relatives" is defined as a connection between persons by blood, marriage, adoption, domestic partnership, or other personal relationship in which objectivity might be impaired.

For further detail, see MSU Conflict of Interest in Employment.

      3.      Conflicts of Interest - Partisan and Non-Partisan Public Boards and Committees:

      Extension staff are in contact with community-based organizations and issues on a daily basis.  This provides opportunities to serve on both elected or appointed non-partisan boards and committees.  If this appointment is based on the individual professional competencies as an Extension staff member and the employee considers this a work-related effort, the employee is to inform the University of such involvement (See Boards and Committees Participation Policy).  Activities are to be approved by their immediate supervisor.  Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public entities is not to be accepted when acting in the Extension staff role.   Under no circumstances should the Extension employee accept personal gratuities, compensation, or special favors from organizations when representing the university or Extension on these bodies.  Neither should the staff member use this public position for the extension of gratuities or special favors to those approaching public boards in manners that could be interpreted as an attempt to influence the recipients.

      There may be times when such participation on a board could be controversial and be publicly interpreted as a conflict of interest for Extension involvement.  Refer to the Handbook policy on Participation On Non-Partisan Boards and Committees for guidance in determining participation.  Also see the MSU Faculty Handbook at Participation in Partisan Political Activities.

4.      Conflicts of Interest - Endorsement of Commercial Goods, Products or Services:

Extension staff are expected to act on behalf of and in the best interest of the citizenry.  A conflict of interest arises when a person acts, or appears to act, on behalf of someone other than the citizenry.  It is inappropriate for Extension staff to indicate the endorsement of a commercial good, product or service.  Extension is to be a resource for unbiased, research-based information.  When called upon to suggest products or services during the course of their educational delivery, staff are encouraged to recommend alternatives in the marketplace, as opposed to specific brand recommendations.  Disclaimers should be used in print or media presentations to indicate that product or service endorsements are not made or implied.

 

 

DATE:    August 2009