To address situations when outside financial interests may overlap or conflict with a researcher's activities at USC, the university has adopted policies regarding financial conflicts of interest. The policies recognize the importance of the research mission to the University and acknowledge that it is enhanced when members of the university community interact with other groups and organizations, including businesses, government entities, not-for-profit groups, professional societies, and other academic institutions. In these interactions, there is the potential for a conflict of interest when external activities, income, or other interests may affect or appear to affect the research activity pursued within the university.
Real or perceived conflicts of interest, when not appropriately disclosed and addressed, can undermine confidence in the integrity of university research and sponsored programs. Additionally, federal laws and regulations require USC to have a process in place to manage conflicts of interest involving federally funded research. The policies of USC and the applicable federal regulations recognize that the existence of a potential conflict of interest does not necessarily mean that the outside interest or activity must be avoided or discontinued. Often, potential and actual conflicts of interest can be addressed effectively by disclosure or other steps to resolve or manage the conflict.
To administer the policies and federal regulations, the university requires disclosures of financial interests by all faculty members and any others involved in the design, conduct or reporting of certain types of research or sponsored program activities. In addition, procedures have been established for reviewing those disclosures and developing techniques to manage, reduce, or eliminate, actual or perceived conflicts in cases where a potential conflict is present.