What Constitutes a Conflict of Interest?
A potential conflict of interest occurs when a person is involved in making a decision that:
- could result in that person, a close associate of that person, or that person’s company or institution receiving financial gain, such as a contract or grant, or
- could result in that person, or a close associate of that person, receiving professional recognition, such as an award or the selection of a paper, work, exhibit, or other type of submitted presentation.
Since the number of accessibility computing professionals is relatively small, we can assume that there will be many cases where we make decisions involving someone who is known to us or with whom we have had some professional or personal association. A “close association” refers to a relative, a very close personal friend, a colleague from the same company or institution, or a colleague with whom there is a close professional relationship such as co-authorship or grant co-investigation.
Some examples of instances of associations that could cause a conflict of interest are:
- employment at the same institution or company
- candidate for employment at the same institution or company
- received an honorarium or stipend from the institution or company within the last year
- co-author on book or paper in the last 48 months
- co-principal investigator on grant or research project
- actively working on project together
- family relationship
- close personal relationship
- graduate advisee/advisor relationship
- deep personal animosity
A person determined to have an actual or perceived conflict of interest will not participate in the discussion or decision on the relevant issue. Some examples relevant to ACM SIGACCESS are:
- A person who is evaluating a program submission or award proposal involving a conflict of interest should remove himself/herself from any discussion and voting on that item.
- A contractor should not give an evaluation of or be present during a discussion or selection of a volunteer to whom he/she will report.
- An ACM SIGACCESS volunteer should not hire a relative or close associate or personal friend for a contractor position.
- A person who is being considered for a given position should remove himself/herself from any discussion and voting on that position.
There will be additional examples that are specific to a given ACM SIGACCESS committee. Each committee may determine additional examples that it considers to constitute a conflict of interest.
Resolution of Conflict of Interest
Potential conflicts of interest can be handled within the ACM SIGACCESS volunteer infrastructure. A person on a given committee who has a potential conflict of interest should report it to the committee chair, and the committee chair will determine whether a conflict exists.
- A potential conflict of interest by a committee chair will be resolved by the volunteer to whom the committee reports.
- A potential conflict of interest by an Executive Committee member will be resolved by the ACM SIGACCESS Chair in consultation with the other Executive Committee members.
- A potential conflict of interest by the ACM SIGACCESS Chair will be resolved by the ACM SIGACCESS Vice Chair in consultation with the other Executive Committee members.
A person determined to have a conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest will not participate in the discussion or decision on the relevant issue.
Policy approved by ACM SIGACCESS Executive Committee June 25, 2009.