Federal Definition

Financial conflict of interest (FCOI) means a significant financial interest (remuneration, equity interest, intellectual property rights, related to investigator’s institutional responsibilities) that could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting of research.

Under sponsored federal programs, the potential conflict is between the investigator’s personal financial interests, and that of the investigator’s immediate family , that could affect the investigator”s ability to perform objective research.

Federal regulations are intended to promote objectivity in research by establishing standards that provide a reasonable expectation that the DESIGN, CONDUCT and REPORTING of sponsored research will be free from bias that may result from conflicts of interests by anyone involved in, or associated with the sponsored project.

State of Florida Definition

The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees located in Chapter 112, Part III (ss 112.311-326) of the Florida Statutes requires that no state employee shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect; engage in any business transaction or professional activity; or incur any obligation of any nature which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest. Sections 112.313 (3) and (7) specifically prohibit the activities described below.

  1. Doing Business with One’s Agency [FL. Statute 112.313(3)]

    A university employee cannot directly or indirectly purchase goods or services from any entity of which the employee (or employee’s spouse or child) has a material interest (ownership of more than 5% of total assets or capital stock) and/or serves as an officer, partner, director or proprietor. Nor shall a university employee, acting in a private capacity, sell goods and services to the university from an entity in which the employee (or employee’s spouse or child) has a material interest and/or serves as an officer, partner, director or proprietor.
  1. Conflicting Employment or Contractual Relationship [FL. Statute 112.313(7)]

    A university employee cannot hold any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity that is doing business with the university nor shall a university employee hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his or her private interests and the performance of his or her employment duties.

To facilitate technology transfer and related research, the Florida Legislature passed an exemption to the law that allows these relationships in certain circumstances. In accordance with 112.313(12.3h), if the transaction or activity falls within subsections (3) or (7), and relates to sponsored research s. 1004.22 or technology transfer s. 1004.23, an exemption may be granted upon full disclosure of the transaction/relationship and receipt of approval by the University President and the Chair of the University Board of Trustees.