Frequently Asked Questions
- What is compliance?
- Why this increased emphasis on "compliance" within the UT System?
- Why does UTSA need a Compliance Program?
- Who is the Compliance Officer at UTSA?
- What are the responsibilities of the Compliance Officer?
- Why does UTSA have a Hotline?
- What if I only suspect something is wrong but don't know for sure?
- Why do I need to take compliance training?
- What is the difference between General and Specialized Compliance Training?
For every employee at UTSA, compliance is knowing and doing the right thing. However, at the institutional level, compliance is simply good management. As a university, we operate in a very complex regulatory environment and we face tremendous risk on a daily basis. Compliance is knowing what our risks are and ensuring that our resources are appropriately allocated to provide reasonable assurance that our most critical risks are adequately mitigated. This proactive approach to compliance helps UTSA to achieve its goals and objectives.
In the wake of several major instances of non-compliance within the UT System that resulted in negative publicity, fines or loss of funding, the Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents requested that the Chancellor develop an Action Plan to Ensure Institutional Compliance. The Action Plan was developed in 1998 and includes the following key elements:
- Designation of a System-wide Compliance Officer.
- The appointment of an Institutional Compliance Officer at System Administration and at each component institution.
- The creation of a UT System-wide Compliance Committee and parallel Compliance Committees at System Administration and each component institution which meets at least quarterly.
- The mandate for a continuous and proactive compliance function, which reports to the Institutional Compliance Officer at System Administration and each component institution.
- The allocation of sufficient resources at System Administration and at each component institution to fund compliance activities (including information resources, training, and monitoring activities) that reduce compliance risk to a reasonably low level.
- The requirement that the Institutional Compliance Officers and Committees at System Administration and the component institutions report their activities to the UT System-wide Compliance Officer at least quarterly.
A Compliance Program is a self-governance infrastructure that achieves the following objectives:
- Reduces the risk of non-compliance that could result in significant harm to the institution's operations, finances or reputation.
- Provides evidence to external entities, e.g., Texas Legislature, Federal oversight authorities, and UT System that UTSA has a system in place to identify and actively manage risks and provide positive assurance to executive management.
- Ensures that every employee is aware of the rules and regulations that apply to their job.
Mr. James Weaver, Director of Institutional Compliance and Risk Services is the Compliance Officer.
The Compliance Officer oversees the Compliance Program to ensure that the infrastructure of the program is adequate and that it is operating effectively. Some specific responsibilities include:
- Establishing and maintaining a system that builds compliance consciousness into daily activities.
- Monitoring the various compliance program activities to ensure that they are being performed as designed.
- Communicating with the Senior Vice President for Institutional Strategic Planning, Compliance Risk Management, and Office Operations and others regarding compliance program activities and issues of non-compliance.
A hotline is a part of an early warning system that enables management to react quickly to investigate issues, and often resolve problems prior to costly litigation or negative publicity. A company called The Network operates UTSA's hotline and trained Interview Specialists take the callers' information and relay it to UTSA. More information about the Hotline can be accessed via the Hotline Information page in the Institutional Compliance Web site.
Discuss it with your supervisor or someone in management at UTSA.
It is critical that every employee at UTSA is aware of the key compliance issues that impact their jobs on a daily basis; as a result, training is a cornerstone of UTSA's Institutional Compliance Program. The University has adopted a web-based training approach that provides employees with the knowledge they need in a flexible and user-friendly format. All employees are required to meet the requirements of the General Compliance Training Program, and non-compliance is reported to supervisors.
General Compliance Training modules can be accessed via the MyTraining system.
All employees are required to take General Compliance Training. Specialized Training is related only to areas that have been identified through the risk assessment process as Institutional High Risks and only individuals who interact with those areas are required to complete specialized training.
- What is a conflict of interest?
- Who needs to complete a conflict of interest disclosure?
- What happens when you complete a conflict of interest disclosure?
- How does UTSA manage conflicts of interest? When does UTSA use a management plan?
- Why is managing conflicts of interest important?
- What is the process for disclosing conflicts of interest at UTSA?
- What happens if a conflict of interest is identified?
- Are all conflicts of interest prohibited at UTSA?
- How can I learn more about conflicts of interest at UTSA?
- What are some examples of conflicts of interest?
Conflict of Commitment FAQs
A conﬂict of interest is a situation where an individual or organization has compelling interests or loyalties that could inﬂuence their decision-making or actions.
In the context of research, conﬂicts of interest may arise when investigators have ﬁnancial, professional, or personal relationships that could potentially bias their research ﬁndings or aﬀect their objectivity.
In the context of a business-related conﬂict of interest, this could be when an employee has a ﬁnancial interest in a company that their employer is considering doing business with.
An example of this is, suppose, an employee owns a signiﬁcant amount of stock in a company that provides products or services to their employer. In that case, the employee may be inclined to inﬂuence their employer's purchasing decisions in favor of that company to increase the value of their investment, even if it's not the best decision for the employer.
Similarly, an employee who has a ﬁnancial interest in a competing company may be tempted to provide conﬁdential information about their employer's business strategy to their competitor to gain a competitive advantage, which would be detrimental to their employer.
To avoid this type of conﬂict of interest, employees should disclose any ﬁnancial interests they have incompanies that their employer is doing business with or considering doing business with and recuse themselves from any decision-making processes that could inﬂuence their ﬁnancial interests.
All UTSA employees, regardless of outside employment or interests, must complete a conﬂict of interest disclosure annually in conjunction with the annual compliance training for new and existing employees and update it periodically should changes to their status occur.
Once you submit a Conﬂict of Interest disclosure in the portal, it is then changed automatically in thesystem to “pending review.” The immediate supervisor of the employee receives the disclosure, and depending on the responses given, the supervisor then decides whether to approve or deny the disclosure.Should there be a potential Conﬂict of Interest or Commitment the employee and supervisor then complete a management plan together.
UTSA has established policies and procedures to identify, disclose, and manage conﬂicts of interestin research and business operations. These policies and procedures apply to all faculty, staﬀ, and students engaged in research or business activities at UTSA.
The COI policy at UTSA requires individuals to disclose any ﬁnancial or non-ﬁnancial interests that could potentially create a conﬂict of interest. This includes relationships with outside entities, such as consulting relationships, ownership interests, or sponsored travel. Should there by a potential conﬂict based on employee responses in the portal, the supervisor and employee can create a management plan together to identify how to best mitigate any risk and manage it appropriately.
Per HOP 1.33.VIII.B, “When there is a conﬂict of interest: customize a management plan in consultation withthe individual submitting the disclosure; monitors the management plan or designates an individual to monitor the management plan; and submits the management plan to the approval authority’s supervisorfor approval.”
The management plan may include steps such as monitoring research, limiting the scope of involvement, or divesting ﬁnancial interests. By disclosing and managing conﬂicts of interest, UTSA can ensure that its research and business operations are conducted with the highest ethicalstandards and integrity.
Managing conﬂicts of interest is critical to maintaining the integrity and credibility of our research and business operations. Failure to disclose or manage conﬂicts of interest can compromise the safety andwell-being of study participants, erode public trust in our research, and undermine the credibility of our institution.
Individuals engaged in research or business activities at UTSA are required to disclose any ﬁnancial or non-ﬁnancial interests that could potentially create a conﬂict of interest. The disclosure process involvescompleting a COI form, which is then reviewed by the immediate supervisor at UTSA.
If a conﬂict of interest is identiﬁed, the immediate supervisor works with the employee to develop a management plan to address the conﬂict. The management plan may include steps such as monitoringresearch, limiting the scope of involvement, or divesting ﬁnancial interests.
No, not all conﬂicts of interest are prohibited at UTSA. However, individuals must disclose all potential conﬂicts of interest, and UTSA evaluates each disclosure to determine whether the conﬂict can be managed appropriately.
You can learn more about conﬂicts of interest at UTSA by visiting the Compliance and Risk Services website or by contacting your immediate supervisor at UTSA. The website provides resources, training,and guidance to help individuals identify, disclose, and manage conﬂicts of interest.Top - COI FAQs
There are several examples of conﬂicts of interest, including:
- Financial/personal conﬂicts of interest:
These occur when an individual or organization has a ﬁnancial interest in a decision or activity.
- Example: a researcher who has ﬁnancial ties to a company that manufactures a drug being studied may have a conﬂict of interest if the results of the study could potentially beneﬁt the company ﬁnancially.
- Example: A university administrator who is responsible for awarding contracts may have aconﬂict of interest if their spouse owns a company that could potentially bid on the contract.
- Professional conﬂicts of interest:
These occur when an individual's professional interests may conﬂictwith their obligations to a particular organization or For example, a lawyer who represents both the plaintiﬀ and the defendant in a case may have a conﬂict of interest because their loyalty to one client may conﬂict with their obligations to the other.
- Intellectual conﬂicts of interest:
These occur when an individual's research or intellectual interests may conﬂict with their obligations to a particular organization or individual. For example, a researcher who has a strong personal bias or belief about a particular topic may have a conﬂict of interest if theirresearch ﬁndings could potentially support that bias or It is important to note that conﬂicts of interest can take many forms, and it is up to the individual to disclose any potential conﬂicts of interestand for UTSA to evaluate each disclosure to determine whether a conﬂict exists and how it can be managed appropriately.
A conﬂict of commitment is a situation where an individual's outside activities interfere with their abilityto fulﬁll their professional obligations to UTSA. This can include commitments to other organizations, activities, or personal interests that compete with or limit their ability to perform their duties to UTSA, even if this is performed outside of work hours at UTSA.
There are several examples of conﬂicts of commitment, including:
- Outside employment:
When an employee's outside employment interferes with their ability to fulﬁll their professional obligations to UTSA, this may be a conﬂict of commitment. For example, if an employeetakes on a second job that requires them to work during their regular UTSA work hours, this could limit their ability to fulﬁll their duties to UTSA, even if this is performed outside of work hours at UTSA.
- Consulting or entrepreneurial activities:
When an employee's consulting or entrepreneurial activities interfere with their ability to fulﬁll their professional obligations to UTSA, this may be a conﬂict of commitment. For example, if a faculty member spends signiﬁcant time working on a consulting project during their UTSA work hours, this could limit their ability to fulﬁll their teaching or research obligations, even if this is performed outside of work hours at UTSA.
- Volunteer activities:
When an employee's volunteer activities interfere with their ability to fulﬁll theirprofessional obligations to UTSA, this may be a conﬂict of For example, if an employeespends signiﬁcant time volunteering for an organization during their UTSA work hours, this could limittheir ability to fulﬁll their duties to UTSA, even if this is performed outside of work hours at UTSA.
It is important for employees to be aware of their commitments outside of UTSA and to ensure that thosecommitments do not interfere with their ability to fulﬁll their professional obligations to UTSA. If an employee is unsure whether their outside activities may be a conﬂict of commitment, they should consult with their supervisor or UTSA's People Excellence oﬃce for guidance.