Certain federal contracts include clauses that are designed to address potential organizational conflicts of interests in entities that receive those contracts. The federal regulations regarding organizational conflict of interest are described in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 9.5 “Organizational and Consultant Conflicts of Interest.” In addition, some other types of sponsors may have their own requirements asking that OCI be disclosed. An OCI is distinct from an individual financial conflict of interest, which is addressed in JHU Policies on Conflict of Interest in Research.
An organizational conflict of interest (OCI) can exist when a company assists the federal government in developing the specifications for a product or service and then competes for a contract to provide that product or service.
A similar situation can arise at universities. University faculty and staff may be invited to provide advice and technical assistance to federal agencies. Such public service is part of the mission of the University and is encouraged. If a faculty member is on a panel that provides input for a new Request for Applications (RFA), under the OCI requirements, the University must ensure that this faculty member’s involvement does not give the University an unfair advantage in subsequent submissions for the resulting RFA.
1. Guidance: The University is committed to identifying, avoiding, and/or managing actual or perceived OCIs relating to its research activities consistent with federal laws and regulations. In conducting federal research and contracting activities, University community members have a responsibility to comply with this Guidance.
2. Definition of Organizational Conflict of Interest: For purposes of this Guidance, an OCI is defined as any relationship, interest, activity, commitment, or obligation that may adversely affect or be in conflict with the services the University performs as a federal awardee or contractor. An OCI may exist in three basic categories:
3. OCI Disclosure by University Members: The University is required to certify to the federal government that any potential OCI is appropriately managed. To collect the information needed to make these mandated certifications, the University requires all University Members to disclose any relationships, interests, commitments, or obligations relating to the Federal Government (Activities) that may give rise to an OCI, as defined in FAR Subpart 9.5 and this Policy.
Some specific examples of reported activities: