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Conflicts of Interest
Compliance Disclosure Requitments -
Scope of Requirements
Indiana law (IC-35-44-1-3) states that a public servant commits conflict of interest, a Class D felony, if the public servant knowingly or intentionally has a pecuniary [financial] interest in, or derives a profit from, a contract or purchase connected with an action by the governmental entity served by the public servant.
“Governmental entity” and “public servant” are defined (IC 35-41-1-12 and IC 35-41-1-24) to include public universities and their employees and trustees.
Note that if the public servant’s spouse or dependent has the pecuniary interest or derives the profit, then the public servant may be considered to have committed the conflict of interest.
However, the law provides a mechanism by which public servants can avoid the criminal aspects of the conflict of interest law by filing a disclosure statement with the Board of Trustees.
The Board reviews each potential conflict of interest and files all approved disclosures with the State Board of Accounts. (IC-35-44-1-3).
Who is covered?
This disclosure requirement applies to all employees and trustees, but especially to those who have the authority to make purchases or sign contracts for the University of Southern Indiana. This includes anyone who initiates or signs or approves a requisition or purchase order or has the form signed on his or her behalf.
Interests to be disclosedThe statute does not specifically define the term “pecuniary interest”. If there is any doubt, a disclosure statement should be filed.
Timing of disclosures
Two types of disclosures may be submitted:
Procedures to be followed
Responsibility for the filing of disclosure statements rests on the person or persons described in the “conflicts of interest” law, although the University will attempt to remind employees through annual announcements.
The trustees, president, vice presidents, associate and assistant vice presidents, deans, and director of athletics are expected to file annual disclosure statements, stating “none” if there are no relationships to disclose.
Other employees should file disclosure statements only if there is something to disclose. Vice presidents, deans, directors, and department heads/chairs are responsible for compliance with these disclosure requirements by staff members within their areas of administrative jurisdiction.
Administration of the “conflicts of interest” filing is handled by the vice president for Business Affairs. Copies of the conflicts of interest disclosure statements may be obtained from that office or downloaded from the Business Affairs website at www.usi.edu/busaff.
IC 35-44-1-3 provides for the review of all potential conflicts of interest by the University of Southern Indiana Board of Trustees, which accordingly will evaluate specific situations disclosed. If the Board of Trustees finds that the situation involves a conflict of interest which, in its opinion, would be inappropriate, the public servant involved will be required to discontinue or divest himself or herself of the outside interest creating the conflict.
Completed disclosure forms are to be returned to the Office of Vice President for Business Affairs through the organizational structure for the approval required at each level. Completed and approved forms will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for final approval and transmission to the State Board of Accounts as required by statute. Typically, the Board will act at its January meeting.
Additionally, note that a person with a potential conflict of interest on a matter should not exercise influence or participate in the decision making and related deliberations on that matter, even if the disclosure has been filed and approved.
Questions concerning conflicts of interest and the statutory requirement should be referred to the vice president for Business Affairs.
Note: Revised December 9, 2004