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Conflicts of Interest & Commitment

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Conflicts of Interest & Commitment

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The University of Colorado Boulder encourages scholarship and research that lead to commercial and consulting activities. Such activities, however, have the potential to lead to conflicts of interest, which may have untoward effects for students, employees, and the university. Note, each year the University receives inquiries regarding potential conflicts of interests. These inquires have been  generated by media outlets, as well as federal, state, legal, and internal regulatory entities. Submitting a DEPA and vetting potential conflicts of interest helps to protect employees and students, departments, and the University, as a whole, from adverse outcomes resulting from inquiry.

WHAT is considered a conflict of interest or commitment for a University employee, student or affiliated person?

  • A conflict of interest exists when a university employee, student or affiliate's financial or personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, personal judgment in administration, management, instruction, research, or other professional and academic activities. For example, if an employee consults for, or has  ownership in, an outside company involved with research similar to the employee's area of expertise, it might appear that the employee's university research is at risk for bias that would benefit the outside company. Numerous studies show that even the most conscientious researchers can be unconsciously influenced by unintentional bias, so it is important that an objective review of such arrangements occurs.
  • A conflict of commitment exists when professional service or research contracted outside the University interferes with the employee, student, or affiliate’s paramount obligations to the primary missions of the University including teaching, research and outreach.

WHY do conflicts of interest or commitment matter?
It is part of the University’s mission to protect the integrity of instruction and scholarly and research endeavors. Disclosure and management of potential conflicts of interest and commitment is also required by federal and state laws and regulations.

What happens if a conflict of interest or commitment is identified?
The Compliance Director for Conflicts of Interest and Commitment will work with the reporting individual and his/her chair/director to develop a plan to manage the conflict. Once the management plan has been agreed upon, the reporting individual, the chair/director and the dean/vice chancellor will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that embodies the management plan.

Are there ramifications of failure to comply?
Failure to submit a DEPA, or other violations of the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy and Procedures, can put an individual researcher, his/her research project(s), the associated department and the university, as a whole, at risk for sanctions. Therefore, disciplinary action as described in the Policies and Procedures will be employed to help mitigate infractions. Note, research review committee approvals cannot proceed until requirements are met; grant awards and contract monies cannot be released; speedtypes may be frozen.

What are the requirements regarding COIC reporting? The requirements and instructions for reporting can be found in the Getting Started section of the COIC module.

Contact the Compliance Director for Conflicts of Interest and Commitment:
Pamela Rosse, at 303-492-3024 or or simply

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