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The University’s mission is advanced when members of the campus community forge links outside the University as scholars, artists, consultants, participants in research and development ventures, advisors to government entities, and in other capacities that relate to their professional expertise. While the University strongly encourages the development of such links, it recognizes that these very positive interactions create the occasion for real, potential, or apparent conflicts of interest and commitment.

In order to protect each employee and the institution, all faculty and exempt staff must comply with the University's Policy on Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment by disclosing potential conflicts as they arise, and by completing the Outside Professional Activities (OPA) survey on an annual basis. The purpose of the annual OPA report is to maintain a continuing picture of employees' outside professional activities and to identify situations that could lead to potential conflicts of interest and/or commitment. Exempt staff who do not complete their OPA survey and/or make good faith efforts to disclose their outside professional activities may face disciplinary action by the University. Faculty members who do not complete their OPA survey and/or make good faith efforts to disclose their outside professional activities will not receive approval of their sponsored research requests. However, submitting one's OPA survey does not relieve researchers from any requirements that may be mandated by research funding agencies to disclose these activities to the sponsor via the proposal or any time thereafter as may be required.

Faculty members and exempt staff are required to report the following:

  1. All paid outside professional activities, including estimated hours worked in the report year.
  2. All significant financial interests or management responsibilities in outside companies, including estimated hours worked over the course of the report year.
  3. All significant unpaid outside professional activities, including consulting.  For the following types of activities, hours do not need to be reported:
    1. Editorial review for journal or academic press;
    2. Grant review;
    3. Officer or program reviewer for a professional organization or conference;
    4. Service or testimony to local, state, federal or professional agencies.

For all other activity types, hours in the report year do need to be reported.

"Professional" activities are those connected with your professional expertise. Activities not related to your professional expertise do not need to be reported. An exception to this delineation is any paid or unpaid services provided to foreign governments or entities; these must be reported.

"Significant" activities can include any professional commitment to provide services or goods to an organization other than what is a customary and expected part of your University role. The financial value of the activity should not be the primary criterion for determining what is significant, but rather the nature of the work and whether it has any real or perceived chance of being construed as a conflict of interest or commitment.

Examples of activity that would not be considered significant and would need not be reported

  • A faculty member presenting research findings at an academic conference. Research faculty are expected to disseminate their research findings and thus it could be considered part of the faculty member’s University role and not an outside professional activity even if the agreement with the conference host includes reimbursement for travel expenses. An exception to this example is any activities or travel related to foreign governments or entities.
  • Providing temporary services that are outside of the employee’s job responsibilities or subject matter expertise. This could include volunteering for a charitable organization outside of work. It could also include a paid activity if the activity does not relate to the employee’s University responsibilities and the activities can be performed on personal time with no chance of interfering with any University commitment.

Examples of activity that should be reported

  • Any paid or unpaid appointment or position held at any non-UMD organization, professional society, company, non-profit, institution, university, non-publicly traded entity, etc., with identification of the organization.
  • Any paid or unpaid consulting or advising, for any entity (professional society, company, non-profit, institution, etc.), regardless of discipline or topic.
  • Activities, such as speaking, writing, or editing, for which an honorarium is accepted.
  • Any paid or unpaid activity related to foreign governments or entities.
  • Participation in any foreign talent recruitment programs.
  • Oversight of significant laboratory operations at a place other than at the University of Maryland.
  • Ownership interest and/or stock in any non-publicly traded entity.

If there is any uncertainty about whether an activity is or is not significant, the recommendation is to report it.

Specific examples depicted in OPA survey format

Organization / Individual for which the activity was performed (including country, if not US)Paid?Type of OrganizationNature of ActivityHours Worked
NIHNoFederal government agencyGrant reviewer
American Library AssociationYesU.S. non-profit or foundationKeynote speech with honorarium5
Huawei (China)YesForeign commercial entityConsulting35
Australian Research AssociationNoForeign non-profit or foundationKeynote speech
My Company, Inc.YesIndividual personOwner300
AmazonYesU.S. commercial entityEmployment2000*

* In the case where an employee has a full- or part-time job elsewhere, only those activities related to the appointment at the University should be reported. For example, if an individual is the Director of Marketing at Amazon, and taught a Marketing course at the University, the activity at Amazon should be reported. However, if that same individual taught a dance class, then the activity at Amazon is not related, and need not be reported. Exception: If the other job is with a foreign entity or government, it should be reported regardless of whether it is related to the University appointment.

Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment | University of Maryland