Ethics

As public employees, we must be aware of University and Washington State policies and regulations. If we know what the rules are, we can work effectively within the regulations.

If you have questions, email acadpers@u.washington.edu or call the Academic Human Resources department at 206-543-5630.

Employee Responsibilities

The University of Washington has comprehensive policies concerning the broad spectrum of ethics issues that emerge in the complex and varied environment of University life. These policies reflect the underlying rationale, University expectations, and designated procedures for appropriate disclosure and review of conflicts of commitment and conflicts of interest, including financial interests that might bias or otherwise threaten the integrity of the results of sponsored projects.

Conflict of Interest

Summary

The University’s philosophy on conflict of interest is that none of its faculty, librarians, staff, or officials shall engage in any activities that place them in a conflict of interest between their official activities and any other interest or obligation. Several policies and guidelines have been issued in recognition of the need for guidance in this area and in the related areas of ethical standards and codes of conduct.

Financial

In general, you shall not, as an employee of the University of Washington, have any beneficial interest in a contract, sale, lease, purchase, or grant that may be made by, through, or is under your supervision. You may not accept directly or indirectly any compensation, gratuity, or reward from any other person who does have a beneficial interest in a contract, sale, lease, purchase, or grant.

Outside Professional Work for Compensation

The University recognizes the increasing and vital involvement faculty, librarians, and staff experience with commercial enterprise and the increased potential for conflict of interest. Prior to getting involved, submit a Request for Approval (formerly Form 1460) to inform the University of your activities and to obtain approval. The University’s perspective is not to inhibit your activities but rather to ensure compliance with applicable University policies and State laws and regulations.

Information for professional staff is available from Human Resources and the Professional Staff Policy, Part 4, Outside Consulting Activities and Employment.

Sponsored Research and Technology Transfer

The University of Washington is one of the nation’s leading research universities, with programs across the spectrum of intellectual disciplines and consistently ranking among the top institutions in grants and contract support for research. University of Washington research supports a comprehensive program in technology transfer that has yielded over $175 million in licensing revenue and has lead to the creation of over 125 new companies based on on UW-related technologies in the last 20 years.

Because of the potential for conflict of interest in sponsored research, the Office of Research outlines policy and procedure in GIM 10, Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Policy.

Employment of Family and Household members

The University seeks the most qualified persons for all faculty, librarian, and academic staff positions. Hiring members of the same family or household may be possible if all requirements are met:

  • This is the most qualified candidate for the position.
  • People, other than the family/household member, evaluated the candidates qualifications.
  • The family/household member will not supervise this person.
  • The family/household member will not participate in any institutional transaction effecting this person including:
    • appointment
    • termination
    • promotion
    • demotion
    • all salary actions

Whistleblower Legislation

State employees may report improper governmental actions to the State Auditor’s Office. To encourage the reporting of improper governmental actions, employees are protected from reprisal or retaliatory action by the provisions of state law (Chapter 42.40 RCW). To read the complete policy, see the Summary of the State Employee Whistleblower Act in the UW Administrative Policy Directory.

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Additional Resources