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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. 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.
  • Areas of concern include : scientific integrity; protection of students' academic interests/ progression; protection of human subjects; protection of intellectual property; misuse of university funds, services, facilities.
  • 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.
  • During the disclosure process, reported situations are compared with policies and regulations to determine if a conflcit of interest or commitment is present. (See Forms, Checklists, Contacts & Links tab for different types of outside employment; See the Disclosure Form (DEPA) tab regarding the reporting process.)

 What happens if a conflict of interest or commitment is identified?

  • The COIC Office will work with the discloser and department chair/institute director to develop a mangement plan.
  • Management strategies will vary depending on the nature of the potential or actual conflict. 
  • Signatures of agreement are obtained from the discloser, department chair/institute director  and dean/vice chancellor. 

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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