Conflict of Interest Overview

UC Davis School of Medicine building in Sacramento. © UC Regents. All rights reserved.UC Davis employees are government employees and the state California has special conflict of interest (COI) laws and regulations affecting government employees. These laws include the Fair Political Practices Act, also known as the Political Reform Act of 1974 (PRA). In addition, federal law has special provisions relating to health care COI that result in more stringent standards than for most other businesses.

As a matter of policy, UC Davis Health prohibits its employees from engaging in any activity that places them in a COI with their official activities. Such conflicts may make it difficult for an employee to discharge his or her work duties. More information can be found on UC Davis Health Policies & Procedures (P&P) 1705: Conflict of Interest and the General Compliance Policies, Procedures, and References page.

A conflict of interest (COI) occurs when an employee is in a position to influence a decision that may have a financial effect on that employee, a relative or a person or entity with which the employee has a personal financial connection. Conflicts of interests can be ‘actual’ or ‘perceived’ depending upon the situation. While the presence of an actual COI is established by the distinct circumstances, a perceived COI has the appearance of wrongdoing and should also be avoided. Types of COI can include:

  • Appearance of impropriety – (1) influence on clinical decisions and drug/device prescribing, (2) on teaching, research, patient care/trust, (3) and purchasing decisions
  • Compromised integrity – scientific studies & publications
  • Conflict of time commitment and effort
  • Failure to recognize the UC intellectual property & interests
  • Improper channeling of funds (research and other funds)
  • Misuse of UC facilities, resources, funds and personnel

The Political Reform Act (PRA) prohibits a public official from participating in a governmental decision that affects his/her financial interest. The PRA, which is administered and enforced by the Fair Political Practices Commission, also:

  • Requires all public officials to refrain from participating in decisions in which they have a personal financial interest
  • Requires designated officials to file financial disclosure statements
  • Imposes limits on designated officials for the acceptance of gifts and honoraria
  • Imposes post-employment restrictions

As required by the PRA, the University of California has adopted a Conflict of Interest Code. This COI code designates employees who must annually disclose certain personal financial holdings based on their position by filing a Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) These filers are informally referred to as designated officials. If you would like additional information about your status as a designated official or filing a Form 700, please contact the Office of Campus Counsel at (530) 754-6295 or via their website at https://campuscounsel.ucdavis.edu/conflict-interest.

Am I a Public Official?

Every member, officer, employee or consultant of a state or local government agency is a public official for purposes of the PRA, including:

  • All employees of the University of California
  • Certain consultants who work on the University's behalf
  • Certain non-University employees who are members of decision-making bodies

How Do Conflicts Arise?

  1. You have a financial interest (personal or private);
  2. You participate in, influence, or make the decision, in your official duties / responsibilities as a UC employee; and
  3. The decision is going to affect your financial interest.

* All three components are required to have a conflict under the California PRA laws.

The UC Davis Health Conflict of Interest policy supplements the Political Reform Act by prohibiting University personnel from making University decisions when they have a COI. Specifically, no public official at any level of the University may make, participate in making or in any way use her/his official position to influence a governmental decision in which they know they have a disqualifying conflict of interest.  Additional information is also available in the UC Conflict of Interest Code, the UC PPSM-82, Conflict of Interest policy, the UCD PPM 380-16, Conflict of Interest policy and the UC Davis Health P&P 1705, Conflict of Interest policy.

COI questions are analyzed on a case-by-case basis because they can involve extensive review of multiple rules and regulations. If you have a question about our COI policies or need help determining if you have a COI, please contact the UC Davis Health Compliance Office before making the decision whenever possible.

How can I avoid a Conflict of Interest?

Disclose & Recuse: You can disclose the conflict or recuse yourself by abstaining from purchasing and formulary decisions. Avoid making, participating in or influencing business decisions if you have a conflict of interest.

Remove the Financial Interest: You can remove your financial interest in many ways depending upon the type of financial interest that exists. For example, you can sell stock on the public market before getting involved or promptly return an unused gift. You may also donate an unused gift to the University without claiming a tax deduction (e.g. put a fruit basket received from a patient in a public area for enjoyment of staff & public).

How do I disclose COI & other financial interest?

If you have a COI or other financial interest that you would like to disclose, please contact your supervisor for additional information. The appropriate form is highly dependent upon the type of COI you are disclosing. You can also reach out to the following departments for additional information.

COI Disclosure Questions

In the increasingly transparent world of health care, University of California (UC) is committed to promoting integrity and honesty in its dealings with vendors and prohibits employees and students from accepting gifts from vendors. Additionally, all UC Davis Health employees and students are subject to the system-wide gift policies outlined in the UC Health Care Vendor Relations policy, which prohibits them from accepting gifts from any health care vendor and provides additional rules relevant to its health care activities.  

What is a Gift?

A “gift” is defined as any payment or other benefit provided that confers a personal benefit for which the recipient does not provide goods or services of equal or greater value. For example, meals, lodging, or transportation may be considered gifts to an individual if they do not provide goods or services of equal or greater value. A gift also includes a rebate or discount in the price of anything of value unless the rebate or discount is made in the regular course of business to members of the public.

Can the department purchase items to use as giveaways during a University event?

Gift questions are typically evaluated on a case-by-case basis as different circumstances can warrant different responses. In general, University policy allows for departments to use University funds for employee prizes, awards and other gifts under specific rules. Employee giveaways that are purchased with University funds should not exceed the per person limit in accordance with UCOP BFB-G-41 and should also comply with UC Davis PPM 380-50.

Gifts to non-employees purchased with University funds must be reasonably priced and fit within the value limits and other guidelines outlined in UCOP BFB-G-42 and UC Davis PPM 260-45. Please contact Compliance if you want to provide giveaways to patients or if you have general questions about having giveaways at your event.

A vendor has offered me something of value (i.e. travel expenses, honorarium, food, etc.), but I don’t know if I can accept it. Who do I talk to?

UC Davis Health employees with conflict of interest, gifts or vendor relation questions should contact the UC Davis Health Compliance Department at hs-compliancehelp@ucdavis.edu or by using any of the information on our Contact Us webpage (https://health.ucdavis.edu/compliance/contact/).