Handbook of Operating Procedures 5-2011

Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outside Activities


Effective July 01, 2022

Executive Sponsor: Executive Vice President and Provost
Policy Owner: Executive Vice President and Provost, Vice President for Legal Affairs, and Associate Vice President for Human Resources 


  1. Policy Statement

The mission of The University of Texas at Austin (“University”) is to achieve excellence in the interrelated areas of undergraduate education, graduate education, research and public service. The University contributes to the advancement of society through research, creative activity, scholarly inquiry, and the development and dissemination of new knowledge, including the commercialization of University discoveries.

It is the policy of the University to provide a transparent system of disclosure, approval, and documentation of its employees’ activities outside of the University which might otherwise raise concerns about conflicts of interest or conflicts of commitment. Undisclosed and unmanaged conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment are prohibited. This policy serves to ensure compliance with state ethics laws and The University of Texas System (“UT System”) Regents’ Rules and Regulations and is intended to provide the framework for rules and procedures to clearly delineate permissible outside activities. To the extent this policy conflicts with any other policy in the University's Handbook of Operating Procedures ("HOP"), this policy controls.


  1. Reason for Policy

To provide the institutional framework to protect the credibility and reputation of the University and its faculty and staff when those employees are engaged in outside activities through the management of real or perceived conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. Members of the University community have an obligation to address both the substance and the appearance of conflicts of interest and commitment, and if they arise, to disclose them to the appropriate University representative and manage the conflict appropriately.

The University community should be guided by the following principles in the conduct of University responsibilities.

  1. Scope & Audience

This policy applies to any employee of the University, including any person who holds a University faculty appointment, regardless of compensation or length of appointment.

*Note: Units of the University may have additional policies and disclosures for their employees (e.g. Dell Medical School, Athletics, and Office of the Vice President for Research).


  1. Definitions (specific to this policy)

Business Entity:

An entity recognized by law through which business is conducted, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, firm, corporation, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, or trust.


Any form of benefit including but not limited to salary, retainer, honoraria, intellectual property rights or royalties, or promised, deferred, or contingent interest. It also includes sponsored travel or reimbursement.

Conflict of Commitment:

When (1) the time or effort that a University employee devotes to an outside activity directly or significantly interferes with the employee’s fulfillment of University responsibilities, or (2) the employee uses state property without authority in connection with the employee’s outside employment, board service, or other activity.

Conflict of Interest:

A significant outside interest of a University employee or one of the employee’s immediate family members that could directly or significantly affect the employee’s performance of institutional responsibilities. The proper discharge of University responsibilities could be directly or significantly affected if the employment, service, activity, or interest:

  1. might tend to influence the way the employee performs University responsibilities, or the employee knows or should know the interest is or has been offered with the intent to influence the employee’s conduct or decisions;
  2. could reasonably be expected to impair the employee’s judgment in performing University responsibilities; or
  3. might require or induce the employee to disclose confidential or proprietary information acquired through the performance of University responsibilities.


Any employee of the University, including any person who holds a University faculty appointment, regardless of compensation or length of appointment.


Stock, stock options, warrants, or other ownership interest.

Executive Officer:

Includes, but is not limited to, a chancellor or president, all individuals who report directly to the University president (other than administrative support positions), and any employee who exercises broad and significant discretion over key institutional or UT System functions. At the University, this includes:

Immediate Family Members:

Malign Foreign Talent Recruitment Program:

  1. Any program position, or activity that includes compensation in the form of cash, in-kind compensation, including research funding, promised future compensation, complimentary foreign travel, things of non de minimis value, honorific title, career advancement opportunities, or other types of remuneration or consideration directly provided by a foreign country at any level (national, provincial, or local) or their designee, or an entity based in, funded by, or affiliated with a foreign country, whether or not directly sponsored by the foreign country, to the targeted individual, whether directly or indirectly stated in the arrangement, contract, or other documentation at issue, in exchange for the individual:
    1. engaging in the unauthorized transfer of intellectual property, materials, data products, or other nonpublic information owned by a United States entity or developed with a Federal research and development award to the government of a foreign country or an entity based in, funded by, or affiliated with a foreign country regardless of whether that government or entity provided support for the development of the intellectual property, materials, or data products;
    2. being required to recruit trainees or researchers to enroll in such program, position, or activity;
    3. establishing a laboratory or company, accepting a faculty position, or undertaking any other employment or appointment in a foreign country if such activities are in violation of the standard terms and conditions of a Federal research and development award;
    4. being unable to terminate the foreign talent recruitment program contract or agreement except in extraordinary circumstances;
    5. through funding or effort related to the foreign talent recruitment program, being limited in the capacity to carry out a research and development award or required to engage in work that would result in substantial overlap or duplication with a Federal research and development award;
    6. being required to apply for and successfully receive funding from the sponsoring foreign government’s funding agencies with the sponsoring foreign organization as the recipient;
    7. being required to omit acknowledgment of the recipient organization with which the individual is affiliated, or the Federal research agency sponsoring the research and development award, contrary to the institutional policies or standard terms and conditions of the Federal research and development award;
    8. being required to not disclose to the Federal research agency or employing organization the participation of such individual in such program, position, or activity; or
    9. having a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment contrary to the standard terms and conditions of the Federal research and development award.
  2. A program that is sponsored by:
    1. A foreign country of concern or an entity based in a foreign country of concern, whether or not directly sponsored by the foreign country of concern. Countries of concern include:
      1. The People’s Republic of China
      2. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
      3. The Russian Federation
      4. The Islamic Republic of Iran
      5. Any other country deemed to be a country of concern by the U.S. Secretary of State;
    2. An academic institution on the list developed under section 1286(c)(8) of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019; or
    3. A foreign talent recruitment program on the list developed under section 1286©(9) of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

Management Plan:

A written agreement that may impose conditions and prescribe actions necessary, including reduction or elimination, to manage conflicts of interest, conflicts of commitment, or outside activities.

Member of the University Community:

Any employee of the University, including any person who holds a University faculty appointment, regardless of compensation or length of appointment.

Outside Activity:

Any activity – compensated or uncompensated – that occurs outside the duties and responsibilities of a University appointment.

Outside Board:

The board, council, or other governing or advisory body of a business, civic, professional, social, or religious organization, whether for profit or nonprofit.

Outside Employment:

Any activity performed by an employee, other than fulfilling employment obligations at the University, for which remuneration is received, including instruction through distance education.

Significant Activity:

A level of engagement with an outside activity that interferes with an employee’s ability to fulfill the employee's commitment to the University or interfere with the employee’s professional judgment in exercising any University duty or responsibility.

Substantial Foreign Relationship:

Any relationship between a UT Austin employee and a program that is sponsored, funded, directed, or controlled by a foreign government, foreign agency, or foreign institution that results in an honorary title; employment; grant support; in-kind support, such as research facilities and equipment; or collaborative patents.  Conducting peer review or engaging in an international research collaboration that does not involve a formal relationship with a foreign entity, financial support, or in-kind support are not considered substantial foreign relationships.

Substantial Interest in a Business Entity:

  1. Service as an officer;
  2. A controlling interest regardless of the value of the business entity;
  3. Ownership of more than one percent of the voting interest;
  4. Ownership of more than $5,000 of the fair market value
  5. A direct or indirect participating interest by shares, stock, or otherwise, regardless of whether voting rights are included, in more than one percent of the profits, proceeds, or capital gain.

University Responsibilities:

An individual’s professional responsibilities on behalf of the University. Such responsibilities include, but are not limited to, administrative and professional work on behalf of the University, research, research consultation, teaching, and professional practice.

  1. Website (for policy)


  1. Contacts





Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs


Phone: 512-471-1241




Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost


Phone: 512-471-4363




Office of Human Resources


Phone: 512-471-4772



  1. Responsibilities & Procedures

While all members of the University community are subject to this policy, members of the community, depending on their role are subject to different procedures and/or disclosure requirements. Undisclosed and unmanaged conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment are prohibited.


Situations where conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment arise can be complex and/or ambiguous. Accordingly, the University defines the following two elements as critical to the effective implementation of this policy:


  1. Full and prompt disclosure to an appropriate supervisor of significant activities and interests outside the institution or outside the unit. This disclosure enables potential conflicts to be reviewed and, if necessary, appropriately managed.
  1. Seeking advice (by the individual or supervisor) and availability of counsel (by the appropriate University representative) to provide relevant guidance and clarification if a conflict exists or where/how a conflict should be managed. 


  1. Disclosure Requirements

All University employees are required to complete or update a disclosure of outside activities at least annually, even if no activities are reported. The specific disclosure requirements for a University employee are based upon that employee’s position with the University and are provided in the procedural guidance documents found in Section VIII of this policy. A university employee should file a timely written disclosure statement when any of the following conditions exist:

  1. Disclosure, Approval, and Development of Management Plan: All employees are required to seek prior  approval for outside activities with the exception of those activities defined as pre-approved and described in the procedural guidance documents.


  1. Noncompliance: Intentional dishonesty, including purposefully failing to disclose, is prohibited and will lead to prompt action. Circumstances such as stealing, lying about matters connected with work, unauthorized private work on University time, falsifying records, making unauthorized personal use of institutional or government property, and giving or receiving a bribe in any form can lead to serious corrective action, up to and including termination.


  1. Employment and Outside Activity Categories Requiring Disclosure and Prior Approval:
    1. All employees must disclose and seek prior approval for the following, unless the activity is specifically identified as pre-approved in corresponding procedure guidance documents:
      1. Compensated activities and outside employment where monetary payment greater than $600 annually from a single entity is anticipated;
      2. Compensated employment with another state agency or independent school district;
      3. Academic appointments, regardless of compensation, at an institution or organization other than the University;
      4. Any outside activity, including interest in a business entity, that reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment;
      5. Outside board service except as described in procedures documents;
      6. Any nonelective offices or positions of honor, trust, or profit with the State of Texas or the United States;
      7. All substantial foreign relationships, including any and all programs sponsored, funded, directed, or controlled by a foreign government, foreign agency, or foreign institution.
      8. All funded or potentially funded sponsored projects or scholarly activity not processed by the Office of Sponsored Projects, and to which effort will be committed or university resources (e.g., students, supplies, equipment) will be utilized.
  1. Executive officers and employees involved in procurement activities must further disclose:
    1. A description and the range of compensation or interest by the individual or the individual’s immediate family members, regardless of amount, in an entity that enters into any agreements or contracts with UT (e.g., service agreements, leases, sales agreements).
    2. A description of gifts over $250 to the individual or the individual's immediate family members if the gift reasonably appears to create a conflict of interest.


  1. Use of University Resources
  1. University Resources: Except as otherwise specifically authorized, University resources shall be used only for official business. Employees may make incidental use of University Information Resources subject to the limitations found in the University’s Information Resources Use and Security Policy.
  1. Use of University Name: Employees engaging in outside activity shall not use the name of The University of Texas at Austin, its units, or any other University trademark, service mark, or trade name in such a manner as to suggest institutional endorsement or support of a non-University enterprise, product, or service. Neither business cards bearing the University name, address and campus telephone numbers, nor University stationary, including University email accounts, are to be used in such a manner as to suggest institutional endorsement or support of a non-University enterprise, product, or service.
  1. Use of University Intellectual Property: Intellectual property related to an individual’s university responsibilities and professional expertise is owned by the UT Board of Regents as outlined in Regents’ Rule 90101: Intellectual Property. Individuals may not enter into outside activities or agreements that convey, assign, encumber, or license IP to an outside entity. IP includes, but is not limited to, any invention, discovery, creation, know-how, trade secret, technology, scientific or technological development, research data, work of authorship and software, regardless of whether subject to protection under patent, trademark, copyright, or other laws. University intellectual property must not be used for outside activity purposes except as approved by the University prior to its use.
  1. Involvement of University Students and Postdoctoral Fellows: University students may benefit from involvement in the non-University activities of a faculty member or employee. However, the educational experience of the University’s students and postdoctoral fellows should not be diminished or impeded in any way. Faculty and other university employees may not contract with or otherwise employ university students and postdoctoral fellows in an outside entity without prior approval by the department chair (or dean in non-departmentalized colleges/schools).
  1. Prohibited Outside Activities
  1. Malign Foreign Talent Programs: University employees are prohibited from participation in malign foreign talent programs.
  1. Forms & Tools


  1. Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Related Information

Board of Regents’ Rule 30104 – Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outsides Activities


Board of Regents’ Rule 60306 – Use of University Resources


HOP 5-2260 – Dual Employment with The State


HOP 7-1210 - Promoting Objectivity in Research by Managing, Reducing, or Eliminating Conflicts of Interest


Texas Government Code, Chapter 572 - Personal Financial Disclosure, Standards of Conduct, and Conflict of Interest


Texas Government Code, Chapter 574 - Dual Office Holding


Texas Government Code, Chapter 659 - Compensation


Texas Constitution Article 16, Section 40 - Holding More Than One Office


UT System Policy UTS134 – Code of Ethics for Financial Officers and Employees


UT System Policy UTS175 – Disclosure of Significant Financial Interests and Management and Reporting of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research


UT System Policy UTS180 – Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment, and Outside Activities


  1. History

Last Modified date: July 1, 2022
      Editorial revisions: May 19, 2023
      Editorial revisions: December 1, 2023


Previously modified: January 6, 2014

Next scheduled review: July  2025