Magazine article Academe

Report Calls for Uniform Conflict-of-Interest Policy

Magazine article Academe

Report Calls for Uniform Conflict-of-Interest Policy

Article excerpt

Federal government agencies that fund research should institute a standardized conflict-of-interest policy, according to a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report entitled University Research: Most Federal Agencies Need to Better Protect Against Financial Conflicts of Interest, released in November.

The GAO, which serves as the investigative arm of Congress, studied eight federal agencies and surveyed 171 universities to learn what steps are being taken to ensure the public's access to unbiased research results. Currently, only two of the agencies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), require universities whose research they fund to implement policies to identify and prevent financial conflicts of interest. While other agencies do not have official standards, 87 percent of the universities surveyed reported that they apply to all of their federally funded research financial conflict-of-interest policies that are consistent with those of either the NIH or the NSF.

Eighty-two percent of the 171 universities responding to the survey reported that they require scientists to indicate whether a conflict may exist when a grant proposal is submitted; 63 percent require scientists to submit annual financial disclosure forms to institution officials; and 81 percent require scientists to update financial disclosure forms during the year if possible financial conflicts of interest arise.

However, seventeen universities reported that they do not extend NIH or NSF conflict-of-interest requirements to research grants from other federal agencies. …

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