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FAQs Regarding the Conflict of Commitment and Reportable Outside Activities Policy

Capitalized terms are defined in the policy. Please refer to the Definitions section.

  1. Why does Purdue need a Conflict of Commitment policy?
  2. What is a Conflict of Commitment?
  3. What is a Reportable Outside Activity?
  4. What activities do NOT need to be approved in advance?
  5. Who is required to submit the Reportable Outside Activity Form?
  6. Several of the examples included in the definition of a Reportable Outside Activity are things that are expected of me by my supervisor. Do I have to submit the form?
  7. If I am not sure whether I need to submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form, whom should I contact for clarification?
  8. When do I have to file the Reportable Outside Activity Form?
  9. Where do I find the Reportable Outside Activity Form?
  10. I submitted my Reportable Outside Activity Form; when can I expect to receive a response?
  11. I completed a Reportable Outside Activity Form last year. Why do I have to complete the form again?
  12. If the circumstances of a Reportable Outside Activity change after I receive permission to engage in it, do I need to do anything?
  13. If I don’t file a Reportable Outside Activity Form and engage in an outside activity, what are the consequences?
  14. How is Consulting defined?
  15. Does this policy prohibit me from being a paid consultant for a corporation or for-profit company?
  16. I am a tenured professor at Purdue, and I consult for several companies. Is there a time limitation on Consulting?
  17. I provide advice for a company and don’t receive compensation, but I am reimbursed for travel expenses. Does that constitute Consulting?
  18. I am co-founder of a company, but I do not have any income from this relationship yet. Is this a Reportable Outside Activity?
  19. As a scientist, I am asked to participate in online surveys relative to my area of expertise. I am paid a small amount of money for this activity. Is this a Conflict of Commitment?
  20. May I take an honorarium for giving a lecture? Can I accept honoraria from industry?
  21. If I receive royalties or compensation for publishing works, is this a Reportable Outside Activity?
  22. I am a faculty member, and I am actively involved in a professional association related to my university duties. Is the work I perform for the association, including attendance at quarterly meetings, considered a Reportable Outside Activity?
  23. How does this policy work in relation to sabbatical?
  24. I am an officer of a professional association, and my participation is necessary to maintain a license required for my job. Do I have to submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form for this activity?
  25. What if I don't agree with the conditions of a management plan proposed by my unit head or by the OA officer?
  26. My Reportable Outside Activity Form was denied. Can I appeal?

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Q1. Why does Purdue need a Conflict of Commitment policy?

The Conflicts of Commitment and Reportable Outside Activities policy serves two purposes. First, it complies with Indiana law prohibiting ghost employment with governmental entities. Second, it ensures that outside activities in which Purdue employees engage do not:

  1. Divert them from fulfilling their responsibilities to the University.
  2. Improperly influence university decisions or operations.
  3. Conflict with institutional and public values.

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Q2. What is a Conflict of Commitment?

A Conflict of Commitment is defined as a situation in which:

  • An employee's Reportable Outside Activities would likely interfere with the employee's ability to fulfill his or her commitment to the University; or
  • An employee’s responsibilities, financial interest or opportunity for personal benefit in connection with a Reportable Outside Activity would likely interfere with the employee’s professional judgment in exercising any university duty or responsibility.

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Q3. What is a Reportable Outside Activity?

A Reportable Outside Activity is defined as any work, advice or service for an entity other than Purdue University that may potentially result in a Conflict of Commitment.

Below is a list of examples:

  • Participation in any business enterprise as owner, partner, officer, supervisor, manager or in any capacity with management responsibilities
  • Service as an officer, director, trustee or public representative of a professional association, educational institution, nonprofit organization, national commission or board, or foundation
  • Consulting (as defined in the policy)
  • Having responsibility for any course at, or representing oneself as a faculty member at, any other school or university
  • Conducting external research that would not ordinary be conducted as a part of the employee’s duties with the university
  • Service on an advisory council or scientific advisory board of a company or organization other than a state or federal agency
  • Volunteer work that involves a commitment of time that may interfere with the employee’s ability to fulfill his or her responsibilities to the university; volunteer work that takes place on Saturday or Sunday or outside of the regular business or instructional hours of the university generally will not pose a Conflict of Commitment
  • For faculty and exempt employees, any other employment with or service to an outside entity where compensation in the form of money, services, goods or other consideration of value is received

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Q4. What activities do NOT need to be approved in advance?

Employees do not need to submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form for the following activities:

  • Preparing and publishing scholarly communications such as books, articles and other creative works
  • Peer review of manuscripts and grant proposals
  • Editing of scholarly or professional publications or service on editorial boards for such publications
  • Attending or presenting at events sponsored by professional organizations or academic institutions, such as professional meetings, workshops, colloquia, symposia, seminars or training programs
  • Visiting other sites in connection with accreditation, audits, sponsored project reviews or like activities
  • Non-professional activities such as:
    • Volunteer work that does not interfere with the employee’s ability to fulfill his or her responsibilities to the University
    • Hobbies or recreational activities
    • Religious activities

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Q5. Who is required to submit the Reportable Outside Activity Form?

All exempt university Employees, whether part-time or full-time, are required to submit a form before they engage in any Reportable Outside Activities.

Nonexempt (clerical and service) staff members are required to submit a form only if they engage in a Reportable Outside Activity that interferes with their normal university duties. Generally, activities of nonexempt staff members that occur outside scheduled work hours or during leave do not require approval.

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Q6. Several of the examples included in the definition of a Reportable Outside Activity are things that are expected of me by my supervisor. Do I have to submit the form?

If you are a faculty or exempt staff member, yes, the form must be submitted.

If you are a clerical/service staff member, you only need to submit the form if the activity could potentially interfere with your university duties.

Many Reportable Outside Activities, in and of themselves, will not present a Conflict of Commitment, and the Unit Head will be able to approve the activity. But the particulars of the activity must be considered relative to any other activities the employee is engaged in and the employee’s responsibilities at the University.

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Q7. If I am not sure whether I need to submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form, whom should I contact for clarification?

You can contact your Unit Head, the Outside Activity Officer or the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance.

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Q8. When do I have to file the Reportable Outside Activity Form?

New Activities: You must file the form before you engage in any new Reportable Outside Activity.

Continuing Activities: At the beginning of each fiscal year you must file a Reportable Outside Activity Form for all activities in which you continue to participate, even if previous permission was granted.

Changed Activities: If the scope or nature of a Reportable Outside Activity changes after permission has been granted, you must file a new form before you can continue to engage in the changed activity.

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Q9. Where do I find the Reportable Outside Activity Form?

The form is available on the Resources page of this website.

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Q10. I submitted my Reportable Outside Activity Form; when can I expect to receive a response?

Within 10 business days of receiving a completed Reportable Outside Activity form, your unit head will notify you of his or her determination.

If the unit head cannot determine whether the Reportable Outside Activity you submitted will give rise to a Conflict of Commitment, he or she will forward the form to the OA Officer, who will evaluate the request and make a decision in a timely manner.

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Q11. I completed a Reportable Outside Activity Form last year. Why do I have to complete the form again?

Reportable Outside Activities must be approved on an annual basis in order to ensure that a Conflict of Commitment doesn’t arise due to a change in either the employee’s other outside activities or his or her responsibilities to the University.

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Q12. If the circumstances of a Reportable Outside Activity change after I receive permission to engage in it, do I need to do anything?

Yes, you must submit a new form before continuing to engage in the activity.

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Q13. If I don’t file a Reportable Outside Activity Form and engage in an outside activity, what are the consequences?

Disciplinary action for violating the policy will vary depending on the extent of the violation and may range from a warning to termination of employment.

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Q14. How is Consulting defined?

Consulting is an employee’s use of his/her professional capabilities and knowledge for the benefit of a third party in return for immediate or prospective gain.

Consulting generally is not:

  1. Service without compensation, or with honoraria less than $1,000 annually;
  2. Service primarily for the purpose of providing a public or university service (e.g., on governmental agencies and boards, on granting agency peer-group review panels, on advisory groups for other universities)

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Q15. Does this policy prohibit me from being a paid consultant for a corporation or for-profit company?

Consulting by tenured and tenure-track faculty is not prohibited as long as it does not present a Conflict of Commitment.

Before serving as a consultant, the faculty member must submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form for approval.

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Q16. I am a tenured professor at Purdue, and I consult for several companies. Is there a time limitation on Consulting?

Consulting by tenure and tenure-track faculty members generally may not exceed, on the average, one business day per week during the term of appointment when combined with all other Reportable Outside Activities.

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Q17. I provide advice for a company and don’t receive compensation, but I am reimbursed for travel expenses. Does that constitute Consulting?

Service without compensation or honoraria less than $1000 does not qualify as Consulting and does not need to be reported. Travel reimbursement is not compensation.

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Q18. I am co-founder of a company, but I do not have any income from this relationship yet. Is this a Reportable Outside Activity?

Yes. Participation as an owner or partner in a business enterprise must be reported.

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Q19. As a scientist, I am asked to participate in online surveys relative to my area of expertise. I am paid a small amount of money for this activity. Is this a Conflict of Commitment?

This would likely not be considered a Conflict of Commitment, but would be a Reportable Outside Activity since you are being compensated. Therefore, you must submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form.

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Q20. May I take an honorarium for giving a lecture? Can I accept honoraria from industry?

Accepting minor honoraria for giving lectures is allowed, whether from academic organizations or industry. If the honorarium is more than $1000 annually, a Reportable Outside Activities Form must be submitted prior to engaging in the activity.

If you are an investigator on a sponsored project, the honoraria (of any amount) may need to be disclosed under the Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest policy.

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Q21. If I receive royalties or compensation for publishing works, is this a Reportable Outside Activity?

Work on scholarly publications does not need to be reported. If the publication is not a scholarly communication, then a Reportable Outside Activity Form must be submitted. Depending on your responsibilities to the University, the royalties or compensation may also need to be disclosed in accordance with the Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest policy.

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Q22. I am a faculty member, and I am actively involved in a professional association related to my university duties. Is the work I perform for the association, including attendance at quarterly meetings, considered a Reportable Outside Activity?

No. Only service as an officer, director, trustee or public representative for such organizations needs to be reported.

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Q23. How does this policy work in relation to sabbatical?

If the activities a faculty member will engage in during sabbatical are Reportable Outside Activities, then a form must be submitted in advance. Faculty must also comply with the requirements of Executive Memorandum No. B-11 (Sabbatical Leave of Absence).

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Q24. I am an officer of a professional association, and my participation is necessary to maintain a license required for my job. Do I have to submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form for this activity?

Yes. Participation in professional associations does not need to be reported, but service as an officer does.

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Q25. What if I don't agree with the conditions of a management plan proposed by my unit head or by the OA officer?

You may appeal the conditions of a management plan in writing to the Conflicts Committee, whose decision on the matter is final.

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Q26. My Reportable Outside Activity Form was denied. Can I appeal?

Yes. If you disagree with a determination regarding a request to engage in Reportable Outside Activities you may submit a written appeal to the Conflicts Committee, whose joint decision on the matter will be final.

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