Extramural Employment, Consultant Fees, Honoraria

As a research and graduate university, the University at Albany encompasses in its mission the discovery and creation as well as the preservation and transmission of knowledge. As a state-supported university, the University at Albany is also committed to advancing and disseminating knowledge for the enhancement of the economy and the improvement and enrichment of the people of the State of New York.

A number of University programs, services, and policies encourage faculty research and service and facilitate external sponsorship of such activity. The University seeks and accepts external support of research and scholarship, education, and service activities that are consonant with its mission. Important reciprocal benefits can accrue to the University and sponsor for the enhancement and transfer of faculty knowledge and skill.

In all respects, but especially in meeting its missions of teaching, research, and public service, the University at Albany must, at the same time, be fully accountable as a public agency of the State of New York. Employees of the University are similarly accountable and must carefully balance their responsibilities. University employees, including those hired by the State of New York and the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, must exercise the utmost care in ensuring that all conflicts of interest or other breaches of ethical and legal responsibility are avoided. It is the responsibility of staff, faculty, supervisors, department chairs, deans, vice presidents and the president to assure conformity with the applicable guidelines concerning conflicts of commitment and interest.

General Standards of Ethical Conduct

The standards of ethical conduct applicable to employees of State University are contained in the New York State Public Officers Law, Policies of the SUNY Board of Trustees and Rules of the New York State Ethics Commission. Other guidance is found in the State Finance Law and Rules and Regulations of the State Comptroller relating to the handling of state funds and income. Similar standards applicable to employees of the SUNY Research Foundation are found in the Research Foundation Statement on Conflict of Interest. Copies of these regulations and policies are available to all employees and they are expected to be familiar with them. These standards govern such subjects as:

  • Use of official position to secure personal benefit;
  • Interest in an activity in conflict with official duties;
  • Accepting outside employment which impairs independence;
  • Acceptance of gifts;
  • Sale of goods and services to the State;
  • Use of State resources and facilities for personal purposes;
  • Signing of contracts or agreements; and
  • Handling of University or Research Foundation-related income funds.

In addition, the Ethics in Government Act requires policy makers and/or employees earning over stipulated amounts, unless otherwise exempted, to file a financial disclosure statement with the Ethics commission each year. All employees are also restricted in honoraria or travel reimbursements they may accept from outside agencies.

What follows is a summary of pertinent regulations and policies under which University and Research Foundation employees must operate. The University, through the offices of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Vice President for Finance and Business, and the SUNY Research Foundation, stands ready to assist employees in addressing issues of compliance. Those with questions of interpretation and application of the rules to specific fact situations should, of course, refer to the actual texts of the policies and laws referenced here. Copies are available in the Office of Human Resources Management. It is recommended that any question be directed to the Office of Human Resources Management or the appropriate Vice President in advance of engaging in such activity.

Sponsored Research and Service

All persons engaging in research and scholarly endeavors have the responsibility to conduct research and public service activities in accord with the highest standards of integrity and in conformity with applicable professional, University, and legal codes and policies, as well as federal and state laws and regulations.

Funding for research is accepted and administered through the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, and investigators are bound by the fiduciary and other regulations of that body as well as by the regulations of the granting agencies.

Consulting, Other Extramural Employment, and Private Ventures

Through consulting relationships with government, industry, public and other organizations, University employees can be an invaluable resource, assisting in the transfer of technical knowledge and skill. In addition to serving the public interest, consulting involvement of University professionals can benefit the University as a whole. Faculty development, teaching effectiveness, and research productivity can be enhanced by the broadened perspectives emanating from a faculty member's consulting activities, from experiences with others who possess competencies not represented among faculty colleagues, and from access to databases, equipment, or other facilities not available on campus.

The University thus encourages the lending of expert assistance where it does not interfere with an employee's performance of University duties and where no conflict of interest exists.

However, the conditions under which employees engage in work for other than the University at Albany are subject to a number of restrictions. In particular, both actual and apparent conflicts of commitment and conflicts of interest are to be avoided, and employees are expected to act in conformity with legal and ethical codes established by the State University, the Research Foundation, and the State of New York.

Conflicts of Commitment

Conflicts of commitment are situations in which a University employee's external activities, however valuable in themselves, nevertheless interfere with his or her obligations to the University. As provided in The Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York (Article XI, Title H, #4), "No employee may engage in other employment which interferes with the performance of the employee's professional obligation."

Outside activities, therefore, must not interfere with the employee's full responsibilities to the University, and faculty members and other employees must conduct them at times other than those required to meet their professional obligation to the University. Employees whose obligation includes presence during regular work hours must obtain prior approval for such activity from the appropriate Dean or Director and must charge the time to leave accruals if there is remuneration.

If a University employee undertakes outside work for an agency of the State of New York, policies relating to Extra Service Employment apply. As indicated in the rules that are explained in full in the University at Albany Faculty Handbook, prior approval is required for any state employee to be on two state payrolls of the State of New York. Further information about the Extra Service Policy is available from the Office of Human Resources Management.

Conflicts of Interest

The New York State Public Officers Law prohibits any employee of the State of New York from using his or her "official position to secure unwarranted privileges;" and the Research Foundation Conflict of Interest Statement prohibits use of one's position "to secure privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others." To safeguard against such conflicts of interest, University employees must abide by applicable laws of the federal government, the standards and Code of Ethics embodied in the New York State Public Officers Law, and the Research Foundation Conflict of Interest Statement.

In particular, faculty, staff, and administrators should avoid transactions in their official capacity with any person or organization from which they are likely to benefit financially or appear to benefit personally. If a transaction with such organizations or individuals will serve the purposes of the University, the employee should disclose his or her interest and ask that an administrative superior in the University review and handle the matter.

Use of University Resources

When a University employee participates in a consulting arrangement, extramural employment, or venture which has a substantial programmatic relationship to the University, use of University personnel, resources, or facilities is allowed only with prior approval by the appropriate Dean or Director of the University and the Vice President for Research, and through proper arrangements consistent with the University's fiduciary responsibilities to the State of New York and the Research Foundation for SUNY. This requirement applies particularly to the use of University facilities by the private sector. The conditions of such use are incorporated in the University's Guidelines for Faculty Involvement in Private Ventures Involving Proprietary Work Carried Out on Campus (University Senate Bill No. 8283-26), SUNY's Policy on Use of University Facilities, and SUNY's Policy and Guidelines for the Use of State University Facilities by Emerging Technology Enterprises.

With respect to use of University equipment by external concerns, such use is permitted under the conditions outlined in the Campus Guidelines for University-Private Sector Cooperative Use of University Research Equipment (University Senate Bill No. 8384-12) and the State University Board of Trustees Resolutions 82-159 and 56-88, as amended by Resolution 79-158.

When a University employee participates in a consulting arrangement, extramural employment, or venture which has no officially approved relationship to the University, the use of University resources of any kind is not permitted. This ban includes space, equipment, computer resources, supplies, personnel services, and University stationery to ensure the absence of any implication of University sponsorship or approval of the activity.

Management of Extramural Funds

Any payment for use of University personnel, equipment, or facilities, as well as any income generated from any activity or program that is sponsored by or identified with the University must be managed in a way that ensures full accountability by the University both for fiscal integrity and program quality. Therefore, all revenue received through these or similar arrangements must be administered through the University's formal accounting systems and procedures -- that is, through University-controlled accounts.