Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest - Perceived or Actual
A conflict of interest exists whenever an employee’s personal, professional, commercial, or financial interests or activities outside of the University have the possibility (whether potential, real, or perceived) of:

  • Compromising the employee’s judgment;
  • Biasing the nature or direction of scholarship;
  • Influencing the employee’s decision or behavior with respect to teaching, student affairs, promotions and appointments, use of campus resources, interaction with human subjects, or other matters of interest to the University; or
  • Resulting in personal or a family member’s gain or advancement at the expense of the University.

The conflict exists by virtue of a relationship that could result in an undue influence on the employee’s professional judgment. You do not have to do anything improper to have a conflict of interest; it is strictly situational.

Research Conflict of Interest:

A conflict of interest in research exists when the individual has interests in the outcome of the research that may lead to a personal advantage and that might therefore, in actuality or appearance compromise the integrity of the research.

The faculty Conflict of Interest Committee, reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Research,  is responsible for the review and assessment of all financial disclosures related to research projects at UC Berkeley and for determining any actions required to ensure that real or perceived financial conflicts of interest are managed or eliminated.  These disclosures are filed using the Form 700U.

Financial Conflict of Interest

Financial conflicts of interest involve relationships in which an individual benefits by receiving a salary, gift, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria for promotional speakers’ bureau,  or other financial benefit.

An employee with a financial conflict of interest must disqualify himself/herself from making a decision (e.g., hiring someone or approving a purchase), participating in making a decision (e.g., advising or recommending to a decision maker who hires or approves a purchase), or influencing a decision (e.g., communicating with a decision maker) by the University that will impact the employee’s economic interests or the economic interests of the conflict’s source.

If there is any doubt by the supervisor, employee or other party as to the proper course of action with regard to any conflict of issue action, they should contact the Campus Conflict of Interest Coordinator at for clarification on the issue.

Employees who are not designated officials are not prohibited from receiving gifts of more than $500 but must disqualify themselves from making, participating in the making of, or influencing University decisions that would have a material financial effect on the source. They are not subject to any disclosure requirements to place this disqualification on file.

Why must we carefully manage conflict of interest?

It’s the Law:

The “Political Reform Act” of 1974

  • California Government Code Sections 81000 to 91015
    • Covers ALL University employees and contractors
  • A University employee may not take any part in a decision in which the employee has a disqualifying conflict of interest

It’s University Policy:

Outside employment, professional activities, the acceptance of gifts from third parties, and personal financial interests must not interfere with University duties or create an actual or perceived conflict between the University’s mission and an individual’s private interests.

It’s the Right Thing To Do:

The University of California's Standard of Ethical Conduct # 6 states: We will avoid both actual conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts, and devote our primary professional allegiance to the University and its mission of teaching, research, and public service. This will

  • Facilitate the free flow of knowledge and ideas,
  • Ensure that alliances with external entities further the aims of the individual and the Institute,
  • Promote the integrity of decision-making,
  • Maintain public trust in the University and its employees, and
  • Ensure public and University resources are used appropriately.

Economic Interests Causing Potential Conflicts of Interest

The following are deemed to be economic interests from which conflicts of interest can arise:

  • Direct or indirect investments (worth $2,000 or more) in an organization seeking to do business with the university
  • Employment as a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee or other management responsibilities with a business seeking to do business with the university
  • Real property (worth $2,000 or more) which may increase (or decrease) in value due to a university decision
  • Sources of income (aggregating over $500, received or promised within 12 months prior to the decision)
  • Gifts (aggregating over $460 in value, received or promised within 12 months prior to the decision)