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Conflicts of Interest

There are certain conflicts of interest situations that must be avoided by ASU faculty and staff. These situations are prescribed by Arizona law.

This content addresses:

  • who is covered by the University's conflict of interest policies, including ASU researchers
  • what constitutes a conflict of interest

and provides:

  • links to the applicable policies:
  1. For Faculty and Staff: Academic Affairs ManualACD 204–08, "Conflict of Interest."
  2. For Researchers: Research and Sponsored Projects Manual, RSP 206, "Objectivity in Research—Disclosure of Financial Interests and Management of Conflicts of Interest."

Questions? Contact OGC.

What terminology does one need to review in order to understand the conflicts of interest policy?

What terminology does one need to review in order to understand the conflicts of interest policy?

Refer to "Definitions" in the Academic Affairs ManualACD 204–08, "Conflict of Interest."

Who is covered by the conflict of interest rules and who is responsible for compliance with them?

Who is covered by the conflict of interest rules and who is responsible for compliance with them?

Arizona's conflict of interest statutes apply to "all public officers and employees ... of the State," which includes all ASU employees. Consequently, it is the responsibility of each ASU faculty and staff member:

  • to be aware of the conflicts of interest requirements of State law
  • to recognize conflicts of interest situations
  • to take the required action in each conflicts of interest situation, which includes, but is not limited to, disclosing that interest using the Disclosure of Substantial Interest form.

Are there possible consequences of not complying with the conflicts of interest rules?

Are there possible consequences of not complying with the conflicts of interest rules?

Yes. Violation of the conflicts of interest rules may result in employee discipline, dismissal, or criminal prosecution.

What is the most common conflicts of interest rule?

What is the most common conflicts of interest rule?

Refer to Rule One (A.R.S. § 38-503 A and B) in the Academic Affairs ManualACD 204–08, "Conflict of Interest."

Note: This rule is complex due to very broad definitions of "relative" and "substantial interest." (Refer to and review the complete list of definitions in the policy.) For example, regarding "pecuniary interest," if the ASU employee "moonlights" for an employer that is about to enter into a transaction with ASU, the ASU employee has a monetary interest because the ASU employee earns compensation from the company. Likewise, if an ASU employee's spouse or other relative works for an employer that is about to enter into a transaction with ASU, the spouse or relative has a monetary interest in the transaction because the spouse or relative receives compensation from the employer.

What other conflicts of interest rules apply to ASU employees?

What other conflicts of interest rules apply to ASU employees?

Refer to the following in the Academic Affairs ManualACD 204–08, "Conflict of Interest":

  • Rule Three (A.R.S. § 38-504 A)
  • Rule Four (A.R.S. § 38-504 B)
  • Rule Five (A.R.S. § 38-505 A)
  • Rule Six (A.R.S. § 38-504 A)
  • Rule Seven (A.R.S. § 38-511)

Can more than one Conflict of Interest rule apply?

Can more than one Conflict of Interest rule apply?

Yes. These rules are not mutually exclusive. More than one may apply in any situation. The conduct of the ASU employee must comply with each applicable rule.

Are there any differences between what researchers need to file versus general ASU employees?

Are there any differences between what researchers need to file versus general ASU employees?

Yes. All ASU researchers, regardless of whether the potential conflict of interest originates with the research being conducted, must file disclosure of substantial interest with the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance.

Researchers are also responsible for, and subject to, the policy pertaining to researchers in the Research and Sponsored Projects Manual, RSP 206, "Objectivity in Research—Disclosure of Financial Interests and Management of Conflicts of Interest."

Are there any considerations when ASU faculty or other ASU employees desire to do work for another Arizona public entity?

Are there any considerations when ASU faculty or other ASU employees desire to do work for another Arizona public entity?

Yes. If an ASU employee desires to work for another Arizona public entity, the ASU faculty member or other employee should consider the application of the Arizona conflicts of interest laws in two respects:

  1. the ASU employee should evaluate how the conflicts of interest laws apply to him or her as an ASU employee.
  2. the ASU employee should consider how the Arizona conflicts of interest laws apply to this or her role with the other Arizona public entity.

May an ASU employee do business with ASU? Are there any special requirements?

May an ASU employee do business with ASU? Are there any special requirements?

Yes. An ASU employee may do business with ASU, but must follow standard policies and procedures. Refer to Rule Two (A.R.S. § 38-503 C) in the Academic Affairs ManualACD 204-08, "Conflict of Interest.

May the spouse of an ASU employee do business with ASU?

May the spouse of an ASU employee do business with ASU?

Yes. The standard rule applies. The employee must complete and file a disclosure of substantial interest form. In addition, the employee must not participate in the decision-making process.

When must the ASU employee disclose the substantial interest?

When must the ASU employee disclose the substantial interest?

The ASU employee must file the Disclosure of Substantial Interest form before ASU enters into the contract, makes the purchase or sale, receives the service or before ASU makes the decision.

In many cases, the ASU employee will not know precisely when ASU is about to enter into a contract, make a purchase or sale, receive a service, or make a decision. Therefore, it is a good idea for the ASU employee to file the disclosure form as soon as awareness of the substantial interest becomes apparent.

Is there a difference if the employee and employee's unit aren't involved in the contract, purchase, sale, services or decision?

Is there a difference if the employee and employee's unit aren't involved in the contract, purchase, sale, services or decision?


A literal reading of the statute says that if an ASU employee or a relative of an ASU employee has a substantial interest in a contract with, sale to, purchase from, service for, or decision by ASU, the employee is required to file a Disclosure of Substantial Interest form. This is regardless of whether the employee or the employee's unit is involved in the contract, purchase, sale, service, or decision. The employee and the employee’s unit may be far removed from the ASU decision-making process.

What is meant by the requirement: not to participate in the contract, purchase, sale, or decision?

What is meant by the requirement: not to participate in the contract, purchase, sale, or decision?

The ASU employee with the substantial interest must adhere to the requirement "not to participate in the contract, purchase, sale, or decision." Generally, an ASU employee is consdiered to be participating in the contract, purchase, sale or decision, if the ASU employee does any of the following:

  • The ASU employee initiates the internal ASU decision-making process on the contract, sale, purchase or decision.
  • The ASU employee analyzes for ASU or otherwise gives advice to ASU about the contract, sale, purchase or decision.
  • The ASU employee makes a recommendation or otherwise communicates in any manner with anyone involved in the ASU decision-making process.
  • The ASU employee makes the final decision on the contract, sale, purchase or decision.
  • The ASU employee is involved in any other way in the ASU decision-making process.

However, generally, the following are not be considered by ASU as "participating in the contract, purchase, sale, or decision":

  • An ASU employee may tell appropriate persons within ASU that a contract, purchase, sale, service or decision is needed by ASU when this is within the ASU employee's job responsibilities.
  • An ASU employee may tell appropriate persons within ASU about the availability of a contract, purchase, sale or service.

What if the employee reporting the substantial interest normally makes the decision or handles the contract, purchase, or sale?

What if the employee reporting the substantial interest normally makes the decision or handles the contract, purchase, or sale?

The ASU employee who reported the substantial interest may not make the decision or handle the contract, purchase, or sale. These actions should be done by another person who has authority to do them.

What are the procedures for submitting and updating the Disclosure of Substantial Interest form?

What are the procedures for submitting and updating the Disclosure of Substantial Interest form?

All ASU employees must file disclosure of substantial interest. Most ASU employees will be filing with the Office of General Counsel.

Note: All ASU researchers, regardless of whether the potential conflict of interest originates with the research being conducted, must file disclosure of substantial interest with the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance.

Each ASU employee is under a continuing obligation to keep his or her disclosures of substantial interests current. Accordingly, an ASU employee should file a corrected or updated Disclosure of Substantial Interest form with the ASU Office of General Counsel, or the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance, whenever information relevant to his or her disclosure changes. If an employee’s substantial interest ceases to exist, the employee should notify the ASU Office of General Counsel (or if the employee is a researcher, notify the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance) in writing so that ASU may note that in its records.

Note: Each Disclosure of Substantial Interest form is a public record of ASU and, as such, is available for public inspection upon request.