InRule Technology, Inc. Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Policy

The purpose of this policy is to document the requirements and responsibilities associated with identifying and managing financial conflicts of interest to safeguard the integrity of InRule research, the research of InRule’s applicable customers, and to comply with federal regulations.

This policy has been developed to address and comply with the specific federal agency requirements as defined in 45 CFR 94 – Responsible Prospective Contractors.  This regulation was developed to promote objectivity in research by establishing standards that provide a reasonable expectation that the design, conduct and reporting of research performed under the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and any components of the PHS to which the authority involved may be delegated, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (“PHS”) contracts will be free from bias resulting from Investigator financial conflicts of interest.

SUMMARY OF PROCESS

Significant Financial Interests (SFI) (as defined below) shall be disclosed on a Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Form by an Investigator requesting government-sponsored or company-sponsored funds for a research project or by an Investigator when a Significant Financial Interest arises during the course of research. Regardless of whether an SFI exists, all Investigators and key personnel are required to submit an SFI Disclosure Form annually.

It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure those with financial interests in research are identified and make the required disclosures in conjunction with submission of a research proposal or application for human subjects’ approval.

The Significant Financial Disclosure Form and supporting materials are forwarded to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for review.  The CEO (or her/his appointee) will be responsible for evaluating and instituting a plan for managing any disclosed financial interests, for producing institutional reports and other required reports to external sponsors and governmental agencies, and for the general administration and enforcement of this policy.

Advance approval by the CEO (or her/his appointee) is required prior to engaging in government-sponsored research. An SFI review must be completed before any expenses are incurred under an award.

Annual updates are required of all Investigators and key personnel participating in research.  Any Investigator who has acquired a new or increased financial interest during the course of a research project shall report it immediately to the CEO.  Annual updates and newly acquired interests are reported using the Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Form.

TRAINING

The NIH Financial Conflict of Interest tutorial was designed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide education training on what constitutes financial conflict of interest.  This course is required for anyone involved with an NIH funded project, which includes all Investigators of InRule engaged in NIH-funded research.

The course is accessible at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/coi/tutorial2011/fcoi.htm.  Upon completion of the training, a certificate of completion must be turned into the CEO.  Such Investigators should retain a copy for their records.  This training is required prior to engaging in research relating to any NIH-funded grant or as deemed necessary by InRule due to changes in the FCOI policy, non-compliance of the Investigator/Key Personnel or new to InRule.  At a minimum, the FCOI training shall be taken every three (3) years by such applicable personnel as identified by InRule.

KEY DEFINITIONS

The following definitions are provided as a reference and are considered key definitions in understanding the federal regulations of FCOI. A complete list of official definitions can be found at 45 CFR 94.3.

Institution means any domestic or foreign, public or private, entity or organization (excluding a Federal agency) that submits a proposal, or that receives, PHS research funding.

Institutional responsibilities means an Investigator’s professional responsibilities on behalf of the Institution, and as defined by the Institution in its policy on financial conflicts of interest, which may include for example: activities such as research, research consultation, teaching, professional practice, institutional committee memberships, and service on panels such as Institutional Review Boards or Data and Safety Monitoring Boards.

Investigator means the project director or principal Investigator and any other person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research funded by the PHS, or proposed for such funding, which may include, for example, collaborators or consultants.

Key personnel includes the PD/PI and any other personnel considered to be essential to work performance in accordance with HHSAR subpart 352.242-70 and identified as key personnel in the contract proposal and contract.

Manage means taking action to address a financial conflict of interest, which can include reducing or eliminating the financial conflict of interest, to ensure, to the extent possible, that the design, conduct, and reporting of research will be free from bias.

PD/PI means a project director or principal Investigator of a PHS-funded research project; the PD/PI is included in the definitions of key personnel and Investigator under this part.

PHS means the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and any components of the PHS to which the authority involved may be delegated, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

PHS Awarding Component means the organizational unit of the PHS that funds the research that is subject to this part.

Public Health Service Act or PHS Act means the statute codified at 42 U.S.C. 201et seq.

Research means a systematic investigation, study or experiment designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge relating broadly to public health, including behavioral and social-sciences research. The term encompasses basic and applied research (e.g., a published article, book or book chapter) and product development (e.g., a diagnostic test or drug). As used in this part, the term includes any such activity for which research funding is available from a PHS Awarding Component through a contract, whether authorized under the PHS Act or other statutory authority.

Significant financial interest means:

(1) A financial interest consisting of one or more of the following interests of the Investigator (and those of the Investigator’s spouse and dependent children) that reasonably appears to be related to the Investigator’s institutional responsibilities:

(i) With regard to any publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure and the value of any equity interest in the entity as of the date of disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000. For purposes of this definition, remuneration includes salary and any payment for services not otherwise identified as salary (e.g., consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship); equity interest includes any stock, stock option, or other ownership interest, as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value;

(ii) With regard to any non-publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000, or when the Investigator (or the Investigator’s spouse or dependent children) holds any equity interest (e.g., stock, stock option, or other ownership interest); or

(iii) Intellectual property rights and interests (e.g., patents, copyrights), upon receipt of income related to such rights and interests.

(2) Investigators also must disclose the occurrence of any reimbursed or sponsored travel (i.e., that which is paid on behalf of the Investigator and not reimbursed to the Investigator so that the exact monetary value may not be readily available), related to their Institutional responsibilities; provided, however, that this disclosure requirement does not apply to travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a Federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education. The Institution’s FCOI policy will specify the details of this disclosure, which will include, at a minimum, the purpose of the trip, the identity of the sponsor/organizer, the destination, and the duration. In accordance with the Institution’s FCOI policy, the Institutional official(s) will determine if further information is needed, including a determination or disclosure of monetary value, in order to determine whether the travel constitutes an FCOI with the PHS-funded research.

(3) The term significant financial interest does not include the following types of financial interests: salary, royalties, or other remuneration paid by the Institution to the Investigator if the Investigator is currently employed or otherwise appointed by the Institution, including intellectual property rights assigned to the Institution and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights; any ownership interest in the Institution held by the Investigator, if the Institution is a commercial or for-profit organization; income from investment vehicles, such as mutual funds and retirement accounts, as long as the Investigator does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles; income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by a Federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education; or income from service on advisory committees or review panels for a Federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education.

PROCEDURES

  1. Identification of Persons Required to Disclose a Significant Financial Interest – It shall be the responsibility of the Principal Investigator of a Research project to identify all Investigators who have an SFI requiring disclosure under this policy and to ensure that an SFI Disclosure Form is prepared and submitted.  In addition, the Principal Investigator shall be responsible for ensuring that annual updates and disclosures of new or increased financial interests are disclosed.
  2. Submission and Review of Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Form – Every individual having an SFI requiring disclosure under this policy shall prepare a complete SFI Disclosure Form that shall be submitted to the CEO.  An initial review of the SFI Disclosure Form will be conducted by the CEO to determine whether a potential for conflict of interest exists.  If it is determined that there is a potential conflict of interest, then steps will be taken to determine what measures are needed to address the SFI identified in the SFI Disclosure Form.  A management plan may be required to outline the terms, conditions and restrictions, if any, to ensure compliance with this policy.   The management plan may require one or more of the following actions, or other additional actions, to be taken in order to manage, reduce or eliminate any actual or potential conflict of interest:
  • Public disclosure of significant financial interests;
  • Review of research protocols by independent reviewers;
  • Monitoring of research by independent reviewers;
  • Modification of research plan;
  • Disqualification from participation in all or a portion of the research funded;
  • Divesture of significant financial interests;
  • Severance of relationships that create actual or potential conflicts

All management plans are required to be signed by the Investigator and the CEO.  Compliance with the management plan shall be monitored by the CEO or her/his appointee.

  1. Annual Reporting and After-Acquired Significant Financial Interests – All Investigators shall provide annual SFI Disclosure reports or more frequently if required by the management plan.  Any Investigator who acquires a new or increased SFI shall promptly submit a new SFI Disclosure Form within 30 days of discovering or acquiring the new SFI.  It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure that any newly acquired Investigator on a research project submits the required SFI report to the CEO.
  2. Violations of Conflict of Interest Policy – Investigators are expected to comply fully and promptly with this policy. Whenever a person has violated this policy, including failure to make a required disclosure of financial interests or failure to comply with a requirement of the management plan, the CEO shall determine the impositions of sanctions or disciplinary proceedings against the violating individual.

In addition, InRule shall follow Federal regulations regarding the notification of the sponsoring agency in the event an Investigator has failed to comply with this policy.  The federal agency may take its own action as it deems appropriate, including the suspension of the funding for the Investigator until the matter is resolved.

  1. Record Keeping – Records of Investigator SFI Disclosure forms, and of actions taken to manage actual or potential conflicts of interest, shall be retained by the CEO or her/his appointee for  three (3) years from the date the final expenditure report is submitted to the NIH, or as required by applicable regulations for different situations.
  2. Sub-recipient Requirements – Sub-award recipients must comply with this policy or provide certification that their organization is in compliance with the Federal policies identified herein, and that their portion of the research project, as detailed in their sub-award agreement, is in compliance with their institutional policies.  If an SFI is identified by the sub-award recipient, they are required to notify the CEO of the existence of the conflicting interest within 30 days of the identification of the interest.  In addition, the sub-award recipient must certify and assure that any reported conflicting interest has been managed, reduced or eliminated in accordance with federal regulations.
  3. Federal Reporting – The CEO or her/his appointee is responsible for the reporting disposition of matters involving disclosures of SFI in accordance with applicable federal requirements.  The following reports are required by the NIH:
  4. Initial report – prior to InRule’s expenditure of any funds under a NIH-funded research project, InRule must provide to the NIH an FCOI report regarding any Investigator SFI found by InRule to be a financial conflict of interest in accordance with the regulation.
  5. During on-going NIH-funded research projects – InRule shall submit an FCOI report within 60 days after its determination that a new FCOI exists.  If a FCOI was not disclosed timely, InRule shall submit a FCOI report to the NIH within 60 days of the discovery, as well as complete a retrospective review within 120 days of discovery of noncompliance.

iii. Annual FCOI report – For any FCOI previously reported to the NIH, InRule shall provide an annual FCOI report addressing the status of the FCOI and any changes to its related management plan.