Conflict of Interest Procedures
All members of the University or its subsidiaries.
These procedures support the Conflict of Interest Policy and provide members clear direction for dealing with predictable conflict of interest situations, as well as a process for dealing with more difficult situations.
The procedures also detail the action to be taken following disclosure of a conflict of interest.
The supporting Conflict of Interest Guidelines also offer advice on frequently asked questions and case studies.
The University, as a public sector organisation, and its subsidiaries, are guided by principles of:
- good faith
- service to the public
in the way each conducts its dealings.
Conflicts of interest can undermine these principles if they lead, or appear to lead, to decisions or actions that are biased, unreasonable or unfair, or if decisions made appear to have been influenced by the interests of the member(s) making them.
Conflicts of interest may vary in both nature and impact, and those concerned with managing them must judge each situation that arises in a prudent manner. The main responsibilities are:
- members – identifying and disclosing a conflict of interest
- managers – deciding what action is to be taken
- managers – dealing with breaches of policy
In most situations, members will readily recognise a conflict of interest and will want to ensure that there can be no perception that their objectivity may be compromised, or that they may appear to be biased when making decisions on behalf of the University or its subsidiaries as the case may be.
In many cases potential conflicts of interest will be easily avoided or resolved by the individual concerned or through discussion with their manager.
1. Managers across the University and UniServices have a responsibility to help staff members to comply with their obligations under this policy by:
- building general awareness of the risks of conflicts of interest inherent in the work of the people they manage
- making staff members aware of the policy and procedures regarding conflicts of interest
- advising and directing staff members as necessary about appropriate ways to manage any conflict of interest
- ensuring that conflicts of interest involving their staff members are managed appropriately
- assisting any staff member who discloses a conflict of interest to develop an appropriate strategy to manage the situation
- reviewing and endorsing plans to manage any conflict of interest
- monitoring the work of their staff members and the risks associated with a conflict of interest
2. In relation to teaching, academic supervision and assessment of students, staff members must disclose to their academic head any personal or financial relationship that may lead to a conflict of interest.
3. Where such a relationship exists, the staff member is not to have any assessment responsibility, nor act as a supervisor or as an advisor to the student.
4. In relation to employment, staff members must disclose to their manager any personal or financial relationship with another person, where the staff member has responsibility for or may directly influence decisions, including, but not limited to, decisions about the appointment, promotion, remuneration/reward, leave or discipline of that other person.
5. Staff members must disclose to their manager any relationship to suppliers or potential suppliers of goods or services to the University or its subsidiaries that may conflict with the discharge of their University duties or responsibilities or their subsidiaries’ duties or responsibilities.
6. In relation to committee membership, members are to disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest to the chair who will then decide on the appropriate course of action.
Managing a conflict of interest situation
7. As soon as a member becomes aware that they have a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest in the process of making a decision in their role at the University or its subsidiaries, they must declare it to their immediate manager.
8. If the member’s manager has a conflict of interest in the matter, the member must disclose the conflict of interest to the next higher level of authority.
9. The relevant manager, in consultation with the member who has disclosed the conflict of interest, must determine whether a conflict of interest exists and, if so, what further action needs to be taken.
10. If the relevant manager decides that further action needs to be taken, the member must have no involvement, or further involvement, in the matter giving rise to the conflict of interest unless the manager decides otherwise.
11. Where it is determined that further action needs to be taken, the manager, in consultation with the member will decide on a course of action to manage or avoid the conflict of interest.
12. Any decisions and action taken must be recorded in writing and filed by the relevant manager on the conflicts of interest register.
13. If the member does not agree with the decision of their manager they may raise the matter with the relevant dean, service division director or susidiaries general managers.
14. The decision and action is to be recorded in the University or its subsidiaries conflicts of interest register.
15. To avoid doubt, the convenor of a meeting other than a committee meeting must deal with and record any conflict of interest that arises in the same manner as a manager would do.
Managing the conflicts of interest register
16. All conflicts of interest that require further action by managers are to be submitted to the relevant conflicts of interest register using the required on-line form.
17. Submissions to the conflicts of interest register by managers are to contain:
- name of the person/ person(s) involved
- the nature of the disclosure
- the decisions taken on the disclosure by the relevant academic head or manager
- any subsequent action taken on the issue
18. All committee meeting agendas are to contain an item requiring the declaration by members of the committee of any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest with regard to any item on that agenda.
19. Committee members must disclose to the chair any conflict of interest with regard to any item on the agenda as soon as possible and in all cases, before that item is dealt with by the committee.
20. The minutes must record any conflict of interest declared before, or arising during the meeting and how the conflict was dealt with.
21. Action/decisions taken by a committee chair in relation to disclosure of conflict of interest before or during a committee meeting must also be recorded in the minutes of the relevant meeting.
22. Chairs are required to ensure that any conflicts of interest dealt with in a meeting are recorded in the minutes of that committee meeting. Where a conflict of interest is disclosed and dealt with, a copy of the minutes of the committee meeting must be forwarded to the Registrar or delegate, in the case of university committees, or the Chief Executive Officer or delegate, in the case of UniServices committees, or the Chief Executive Officer equivalent or delegate, in the case of other subsidiaries.
The following definitions apply to this document:
Academic head covers heads of departments, schools and other teaching and research units at Level 3 in the University Organisation Structure.
Chair is the nominated chairperson of the committee.
Chief Executive Officer means the Chief Executive Officer of UniServices.
Committee means a group of people constituted as a committee by the Vice-Chancellor or delegate or by the Chief Executive Officer or delegate or by the Chief Executive Officer equivalent or delegate to carry out duties in accordance with specified terms of reference, and includes any board or committee constituted by a board.
Conflict of interest exists where the responsibilities of a member of the University or its subsidiaries are, or could be, affected by some other personal, financial or academic interest or duty that the member may have in relation to a particular matter or person. The term conflict of interest includes any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest.
Member(s) includes all Council members, members of committees and boards, staff members, honorary and adjunct appointees, students, contractors, subcontractors, consultants, associates and business partners of either the University or its subsidiaries (as the case may be).
Relationship means a connection that could affect how other people view the member’s impartiality.
Note – For example, if the matter involves or affects a family member, or an organisation to which the member belongs, or a business of which the member, or a close associate, is an employee/ shareholder.
Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University or its subsidiaries on a full or part time basis This includes permanent, fixed-term pr casual staff members.
UniServices general manager refers to members of the UniServices Executive.
Management Team, reporting to the Chief Executive Officer.
University means the University of Auckland.
Key relevant documents
Include the following:
- Education Act 1989
- Privacy Act 1993
- Protected Disclosures Act 2000
- Conflict of Interest Policy
- Conflict of Interest Guidelines
- Conflict of Interest Disclosure form
- Sensitive expenditure policies
- Impartial Employment Decision Making Policy and Procedures
- Intellectual Property Created by Staff and Students Policy
- Outside Activities Undertaken by Academic Staff Policy and Procedures
- HR academic promotions policies
- HR Delegations Schedule
- Protected Disclosures Policy and Procedures
- Managing conflicts of interest: Guidance for public entities – Controller and Auditor
- Research Code of Conduct Policy
- NZ Government Quick-Guide: Conflicts of Interest
Document management and control
Owner: DVC (Operations) & Registrar
Content manager: Manager, Risk Office
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: April 2021
Review date: April 2024