Conflicts of Commitment and Reportable Outside Activities (III.B.1)

Volume III: Ethics
Chapter B: Conflicts
Responsible Executive: Vice President for Ethics and Compliance
Responsible Office: Office of Vice President for Ethics and Compliance
Date Issued: July 1, 2011
Date Last Revised: January 8, 2024


Statement of Policy
Reason for This Policy
Individuals and Entities Affected by This Policy
Definitions (defined terms are capitalized throughout the document)
Related Documents, Forms and Tools
Website Address for This Policy
History and Updates


Policy Clarification




Vice President for Ethics and Compliance



Campus Specific Questions




Fort Wayne:

Director of Human Resources and Office of Institutional Equity




Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration


Vice Chancellor's webpage

West Lafayette: Director of Compliance





The University recognizes that Reportable Outside Activities can in many circumstances offer important opportunities for Employees to expand their professional horizons, provide valuable public service, and transfer their skills and knowledge for the benefit of the community at large. Reportable Outside Activities, however, should be structured to avoid a Conflict of Commitment. The specific responsibilities and activities that constitute an appropriate and primary commitment to the University will vary among units and will depend on the nature of each Employee's responsibilities, but must be based on and consistent with this policy.

A full-time Employee’s primary professional or occupational commitment is to the University. Part-time Employees are expected to devote their professional or occupational time and energy in accordance with their agreed upon commitments. No Employee may engage in a Reportable Outside Activity that gives rise to a Conflict of Commitment.

To make sure that an appropriate balance is achieved, no Employee may engage in a Reportable Outside Activity until 1) the Employee has submitted a completed Reportable Outside Activity Form and 2) the Unit Head or OA Officer has given written approval for the Employee's participation in the Reportable Outside Activity described on the form. Each Unit Head has a continuing obligation to monitor the Reportable Outside Activities of Employees they supervise and to withdraw in writing any previously granted permission if the Unit Head determines that the Reportable Outside Activity has resulted in a Conflict of Commitment for an Employee. Approval to engage in a Reportable Outside Activity does not alter or diminish the Employee’s duties or responsibilities to the University.

Consistent with its missions of discovery, delivery and engagement, the University encourages its tenured and tenure-track faculty to practice their professions. Such practice is often enhanced by engaging in Consulting. When combined with all other Reportable Outside Activities, Consulting by tenure or tenure-track faculty members generally may not exceed, on the average, one business day per week during the term of their appointment.  

No tenured, tenure-track or full-time member of the faculty may hold tenure at any institution other than Purdue University, except in extraordinary circumstances and with the specific written permission of the Provost or the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, as the case may be.

Situations involving Reportable Outside Activities also may involve issues addressed in the University's policy on Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest (III.B.2), the policy on Effort Reporting (II.C.1) and in the Regulations Governing the Use and Assignment of University Facilities (IV.B.1). Employees must comply with these and all other applicable policies and regulations, including but not limited to those regarding leaves and sabbaticals.

Employees may be subject to appropriate discipline if they

  • fail to submit a Reportable Outside Activity Form for any Reportable Outside Activity,
  • submit an incomplete, misleading or inaccurate Reportable Outside Activity Form,
  • engage in any Reportable Outside Activity without the written permission of their Unit Head or the OA Officer, or after such permission has been withdrawn,
  • fail to submit an amended Reportable Outside Activity Form if the scope or nature of a Reportable Outside Activity changes, or
  • otherwise violate any of the provisions in this policy.


This policy provides a framework for evaluating Employee requests to engage in Reportable Outside Activities based on the fundamental principle that all full-time Employees’ primary professional or occupational commitment is to Purdue University. The University believes it is necessary to maintain sufficient flexibility for evaluating such requests using criteria appropriate to the individual units in which Employees work. Such an approach provides Employees with meaningful guidance for the continued development and future structuring of productive external relationships.

This policy also provides assurance to Employees, the University community, federal and state agencies, and the public that potential Conflicts of Commitment are examined and conducted in a manner consistent with institutional and public values. It is intended to maintain the professional autonomy of Employees as appropriate to their respective disciplines and professions and to protect Employees from unwarranted suspicion that their Reportable Outside Activities divert them from fulfilling their responsibilities to the University or that those Reportable Outside Activities may improperly influence University decisions or operations.

Finally, this policy promotes compliance with Indiana Code 35-44.1-1-3, which prohibits ghost employment with governmental entities.


All units and Employees of Purdue University are governed by this policy.


There are no exclusions from this policy.


Ad Hoc Appeals Committee

  • Evaluate appeals from Employees regarding management of real or potential Conflicts of Commitment arising from proposed Reportable Outside Activities.


  • Before engaging in any Reportable Outside Activity, file a Reportable Outside Activity Form with their Unit Head and obtain the approvals required by this policy and its supporting procedures. Submit a completed Reportable Outside Activity Form annually thereafter.
  • Following approval of a Reportable Outside Activity, continue to devote their time, energy and loyalty to the missions, goals and programs of the University that are relevant to their employment duties.
  • Consult with their Unit Head, the OA Officer and/or the VPEC on questions of what constitutes a Reportable Outside Activity or any other questions regarding the proper interpretation of this policy.

 OA Officer

  • Administer this policy.
  • Provide guidance and training to Unit Heads regarding this policy’s procedures, as appropriate.
  • Upon request, assist Employees and Unit Heads concerning the proper interpretation and implementation of this policy.
  • Review and make determinations in a timely manner on filed Reportable Outside Activity Forms received from Unit Heads. Forward disclosures that include participation in or affiliation with a Foreign Talent Recruitment Program to the Research Security Office for determination.
  • Work with Unit Heads to formulate managements plans for real or potential Conflicts of Commitment arising from proposed Reportable Outside Activities.
  • Provide copies of the ad hoc appeals committee’s decision on an Employee appeal regarding a Reportable Outside Activity to the pertinent Unit Head and the requesting Employee.
  • Audit approved Reportable Outside Activities for compliance with this policy and its supporting procedures.

Research Security Office

  • Review and make determinations in a timely manner on disclosures of participation in or affiliation with Foreign Talent Recruitment Programs to determine whether the program is malign.

Unit Heads

  • Upon request, help Employees under their supervision understand and comply with this policy.
  • Review and make determinations in a timely manner on filed Reportable Outside Activity Forms received from Employees under their supervision or, when necessary, promptly forward forms to the OA Officer for determination.


  • Serve as the OA Officer or designate another Employee to do so.
  • Appoint and chair an ad hoc appeals committee upon receipt of an appeal from an Employee.


All defined terms are capitalized throughout the document. Additional defined terms may be found in the central Policy Glossary.

Conflict of Commitment

A situation in which an Employee's Reportable Outside Activities would likely interfere with the Employee's ability to fulfill their commitment to the University, or if such Employee’s responsibilities, financial interest or opportunity for personal benefit in connection with such Reportable Outside Activity would likely interfere with the Employee’s professional judgment in exercising any University duty or responsibility.

Participation in or affiliation with Foreign Talent Recruitment Programs that pose, or appear to pose, a risk to the integrity and security of related research constitute a Conflict of Commitment.

In determining whether a Reportable Outside Activity constitutes a Conflict of Commitment, the University will consider whether such activity is to take place during the normal weekday business and/or instructional hours of the University or when an Employee is in paid or unpaid leave status.

Due to the nature of their appointments and responsibilities, outside employment and other Reportable Outside Activities of nonexempt staff members (those in clerical, service or operational support roles) that take place during off hours or during leave time will in most circumstances not divert their attention from University duties and will not represent a Conflict of Commitment, thus are not required to be disclosed. However, if for a specific Reportable Outside Activity, interference with such employee’s normal University duties may occur, the outside employment or Reportable Outside Activity must be disclosed and approval is required.


An Employee’s use of their professional capabilities and knowledge for the benefit of a third party in return for immediate or prospective gain to the Employee.


An employee of Purdue, wherever located, and whether full-time or part-time, including but not limited to all executive officers, faculty and staff, including those on leave of absence with or without pay.

Foreign Talent Recruitment Program
Any effort to recruit science and technology professionals or students that is organized, managed or funded by a foreign government (national, provincial, or local), a foreign government instrumentality or entity, or an entity based in, funded by, or affiliated with a foreign country, whether or not directly sponsored by the foreign country. Some Foreign Talent Recruitment Programs operate with the intent to import or otherwise acquire from abroad, sometimes through illicit means, proprietary technology or software, unpublished data and methods, and intellectual property to further the military modernization goals and/or economic goals of a foreign government. Many, but not all, programs aim to incentivize the targeted individual to relocate physically to the foreign state for the above purpose. Some programs allow for or encourage continued employment at United States research facilities or receipt of federal research funds while concurrently working at and/or receiving compensation from a foreign institution, and some direct participants not to disclose their participation to United States entities. Compensation could take many forms including cash, research funding, complimentary foreign travel, honorific titles, career advancement opportunities, promised future compensation, or other types of remuneration or consideration, including in-kind compensation.

OA Officer

The Outside Activities Officer, which will be the VPEC or designee.

Reportable Outside Activity and Reportable Outside Activities

Any work, advice or service for an entity other than Purdue University that may potentially result in a Conflict of Commitment. The terms include, but are not limited to:

  • 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
  • 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 ordinarily be conducted as 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 U.S. federal or state agency
  • Participation in or affiliation with any Foreign Talent Recruitment Program, regardless of the type, amount, or ostensible lack of remuneration
  • Volunteer work that involves a commitment of time that may interfere with the Employee’s ability to fulfill their responsibilities to the University
  • For exempt Employees, including faculty members, 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

 Reportable Outside Activity and Reportable Outside Activities do not include: 

  • Volunteer work that does not interfere with the Employee’s ability to fulfill their responsibilities to the University (e.g., 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)
  • Work, advice or service for Purdue Applied Research Institute
  • Hobbies or recreational activities
  • Religious 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 scholarly or professional publications
  • Service without compensation, or with honoraria less than $1,000 annually, 1) on U.S. federal or state government agencies and boards, 2) on U.S. federal or state granting agency peer-group review panels, 3) on advisory groups for other U.S. universities or 4) in similar capacities primarily for the purpose of providing a public or University service within the United States

Reportable Outside Activity Form

Purdue University’s online Reportable Outside Activity Form. The form and related documentation is considered part of the Employee’s personnel file.

Unit Head

The applicable dean, vice chancellor, chancellor, associate or assistant vice president, vice president, CFO, associate or assistant provost, Provost or President who has executive management responsibilities for supervising the Employee. The chairperson of the Board of Trustees serves as the Unit Head of the President and any other Employees who report directly to the Board of Trustees. The President serves as the Unit Head for all Employees reporting directly to the President.


 Related Policies:

 Indiana Code 35-44.1-1

National Science and Technology Council’s Guidance for Implementing National Security Presidential Memorandum 33 (NSPM-33)



January 8, 2024: Included definition of Foreign Talent Recruitment Program and updated definitions of Reportable Outside Activity and Conflict of Commitment. Added responsibilities for the Research Security Office.

July 15, 2021: Update to definition of Reportable Outside Activity to include exclusion for Purdue Applied Research Institute.

January 1, 2019: Replaced the standing Conflicts Committee with an ad hoc appeals committee and replaced annual reporting by the Unit Head with auditing by the OA Officer. Other administrative and clarifying updates throughout.

August 31, 2012: References to Indiana Code updated to reflect new numbering.

May 16, 2012: Related Documents section updated.

November 18, 2011: Policy number changed to III.B.1 (formerly X.2.4) and website address updated. Related Documents section also updated.

July 1, 2011: This policy supersedes Executive Memorandum No. C-39, University Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment, dated October 25, 1995.

This policy accompanies the policy on Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest (III.B.2).


There are no appendices to this policy.

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