Frequently Asked Questions

General COI Disclosure Questions

▼   Does the USA Conflict of Interest Disclosure replace the AL Statement of Economic Interest?
No. Completion of the Employee Conflict of Interest Disclosure fulfills the disclosure requirements of the University of South Alabama Conflict of Interest Policies and federal requirements involving sponsored research, and related activities. Although there are some similarities, completion of this disclosure form does not fulfill the Alabama Ethics Commission’s requirement to file an annual Statement of Economic Interests.
▼   How do I know if a company is publicly traded or privately held?

Public companies, like Wal-Mart, Ford and Coca-Cola, are those that sell stock to investors.  They are required to submit information to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), so they typically have more information available to researchers.  Public companies are required to provide detailed financial statements and annual reports to stakeholders.  You'll also find a lot of information from news organizations, investment analysts, market research firms, and publishing companies.  Public company stock is openly traded, often on one of the large American stock exchanges (NASDAQ, NYSE).  So, if you can identify a stock ticker symbol, the company is public.

A searchable database of public companies is available here

Private companies, which do not sell stock to investors, are not required to provide information about their companies to anyone. As a result, they can be more difficult to research. If you find financial information, it is usually an estimate.  Estimates are sometimes generated based on the type of industry and number of employees.  The estimate could be very wrong!  If the private company has competitors that are public, you have a better chance of finding some information on the company.  Sometimes, all you will find are contact info and what they do.

▼   Are students required to file an annual conflict of interest disclosure form?
Students participating in sponsored research, technology commercialization, or related activities may be required to complete the COI disclosure form.  If addition information is needed, please email for assistance.
▼   Do I need to submit a disclosure form for every research proposal/project I am involved in?
No. You should complete one conflict of interest disclosure form annually and update it within 30 days of changes occurring.  If you discover a conflict with a specific research proposal that has not already been reported, you must update your disclosure form before the proposal is submitted.
▼   Can I save my progress and complete it later?
Yes, by clicking the “Save and Complete Later” button at the end of the Disclosure form.
▼   How will I know I have submitted the disclosure and my answers received?
Upon completion of your Disclosure form, you will click the option, “Save and Sign” at the bottom of your form. You will then see the Certification, where you checkmark the “I agree” box (agreeing to 4 attestation statements). Next, click the “Complete Form” button, and you should then see a page indicating “Success!” and an option to view your completed Disclosure form.
▼   How do I update my disclosure form?
Upon logging-in to COI Risk Manager, go to the “Home” tab, then scroll down and click the down-arrow on the “Show Disclosures Available to Update” bar. You should then see prior Disclosure forms. Choose the correct (most current) form by clicking “Update.” 
▼   How often do I need to complete a conflict disclosure form?
You must submit a disclosure form at least annually, even if you have no outside activities to report. You must also update your form as often as necessary throughout the year to keep your information up to date.  University policy and federal regulations require that you update your conflict disclosure within 30 days of acquiring or discovering a new outside interest. If a new interest meets the definition of an External Professional Activity (EPA), an EPA request form should also be submitted.  
▼   What time period is covered by the disclosure?
The disclosure should include all external interests and relationships you currently have and those that you reasonably anticipate will occur in the next 12 months.  
▼   Do I have to report information about work I do on behalf of the University for or with outside entities?
No.  You do not need to disclosure work you perform for an entity outside the University if you performed the work as part of your University responsibilities.  If the contract underlying your services is an agreement between the entity and the University that was negotiated with Sponsored Projects, you do not need to disclose it.
▼   If it is determined that I have a conflict of interest, how will it be managed?

Each person’s situation is different. Conflicts are managed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the unique needs of the individual and the University are met.  The supervisor, dean and if applicable, other administrative offices are responsible for managing conflicts of interest.  If it is determined that you have a conflict, you may be asked to abide by a Management Plan that will manage, reduce or eliminate the conflict, as needed.  Conflict of Interest Management Plan templates are posted on the COI website to aid in the development of such documents.

▼   If it is determined that I have a conflict of commitment, how will it be managed?

Each person’s situation is different.  Conflicts are managed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the unique needs of the individual and the University are met.  If your department chair or supervisor identifies a Conflict of Commitment between your University duties and your outside activities, they will work with you and the dean of your college, as necessary, to take the appropriate steps to manage it.

COI in Research

▼   Does my Annual COI Disclosure satisfy reporting requirements for grants, contracts or other  funding applications for federal or other agencies?
No.  The University’s annual disclosure reporting system is used to report information to the University of South Alabama.  It does not report information to any funding agency.  Reporting an activity in COI Risk Manager does not satisfy any requirements to disclose information about your outside relationships and activities in grant, contract or other funding applications to federal or other funding agencies.  You must still disclose any required information on all funding applications as required by the sponsoring agency.
▼   I need to apply for PHS funding immediately.  Can I submit a disclosure form later?
An individual applying for PHS funded research must ensure their disclosure form is on file at the time of application to the PHS entity.
▼   I transferred to University of South Alabama (USA) with an existing PHS-funded grant and I already filed a disclosure at my previous institution. Do I need to file again with USA?

Yes. You must review USA’s Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment policy and procedures and complete the applicable training.  Please contact

▼   Do I need to submit a disclosure form for every research project I am involved in?

No.  You should only submit one disclosure form, update it annually or whenever changes occur.  The form includes a section for listing funded research projects.

▼   Can faculty use university resources for their outside activities?

External activities may not involve the use of University facilities, services, personnel or information without prior University approval and a written agreement between all parties.

▼   How is Conflict of Interest identified?

Conflict of interest disclosures that may be associated with an actual or potential conflict involving research activities will be reviewed by the Office of Research Compliance and Assurance for compliance with applicable regulations.  Determination that a conflict exists will require the PI to work with the Chair and Dean.  If a formal management plan is required, review and approval is required by the Office of Research and Economic Development.

Email one of the following with any questions you may have: 

Chris Hansen, Office of Compliance (general questions)

Dusty Layton, Exec Dir, Office of Research Compliance & Assurance (research-related)

Dr. Harold Pardue, Dean, Graduate School (faculty-related)