Conflict of Interest Policy
Both real and apparent conflicts of interest sometimes occur while conducting organizational affairs. The appearance of conflict stemming from dual interests can be troublesome even if there is in fact no conflict whatsoever. Dualities of interest occur because the many persons associated with the organizations should be expected to have, and do in fact generally have, multiple affiliations, relationships, and various positions of responsibility and/or leadership within the community. In these situations, a person will sometimes have identical duties of loyalty to two or more organizations or individuals. This policy is not designed to eliminate relationships and activities that may create a duality of interest, but to require the disclosure of any conflicts of interest and the recusal of any interested party in a decision relating thereto.
Purpose A. To establish procedures that will: 1) Promote and ensure ethical decision making, and 2) Offer protection against charges of impropriety involving the GEC or its members.
Purpose B. To provide a process to disclose conflicts: When actual or potential conflicts of interest arise, there is a process in place under which the affected individual will advise the GEC about the relevant facts concerning the situation.
Purpose C. To establish recusal procedures: under which individuals who have a conflict of interest will be excused from discussion and voting on such matters at GEC meetings.
A. Interested Person – Any GEC member who has a direct or indirect financial or nonfinancial interest (collectively “Interest”), as defined below.
1. Financial Interest – A member has financial interest if the member has, directly or indirectly, through business, investment, or family, a compensation arrangement with a Reporter, Respondent, Witness, or other person involved in the Complaint at hand.
2. Nonfinancial Interest – A member has a nonfinancial interest if the member:
a. has a close family member (e.g., spouse, child, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or similar relation by law/marriage) who is a Reporter, Respondent, Witness, or other person involved in the Complaint
b. has a personal relationship (e.g., close friendship, romantic/partnership, mentor-mentee relationship) with a Reporter, Respondent, Witness, or other person involved in the Complaint.
c. has any bias – positive or negative – toward a Reporter, Respondent, Witness, or other person involved in the Complaint (e.g., feelings of indebtedness/loyalty or hostility/animus), based on prior experience with or personal knowledge of that individual.
B. Conflict of Interest (COI)
A conflict of interest exists when a GEC member has an Interest as described above great enough to influence their contributions to discussion, decision making, or vote regarding the Complaint at hand.
C. Party in the Complaint – A Reporter, Respondent, Witness, or any other person involved in the Complaint.
D. Reporter – The person who submitted a Complaint.
E. Respondent – The person who is the subject of the Complaint.
F. Witness – A person who observed or who can provide information regarding the Complaint.
A. Duty to Disclose
1. In connection with any actual or possible COI, an Interested Person must disclose the Interest and be given the opportunity to disclose all material facts to the GEC.
a. When any new Complaint is brought forth for the GEC’s consideration, the meeting’s chair will identify all parties in the complaint and offer the opportunity for members with a possible COI to disclose the existence of the Interest.
b. A member may disclose a possible COI with or without providing details of the Interest to the GEC.
2. With this disclosure the Interested Person may request recusal and decline to participate as a Guide for the Complaint Procedure based upon the COI.
3. If the Interested Person does not choose to recuse themselves, the GEC shall make a determination as to whether there is a COI as follows.
B. Determining Whether a COI Exists
1. The Interested Person may be asked to provide further detail of the potential COI. Upon doing so they may be asked to leave the GEC meeting while the determination of a COI is discussed and voted upon.
2. The GEC will determine if any COI exists (great enough to affect the Interested Person’s decision making) or if the situation is a dual interest presenting no significant conflict.
C. Procedures for Addressing a Determined COI
1. If a COI is disclosed or determined per above, the Interested Person will be recused from any meeting segment wherein the case is discussed or voted upon.
2. The minutes of the meeting will reflect all recusals from discussion and voting.
3. A member with a COI will not participate in the Complaint Procedure as a Guide or on the Enquiry Planning Team.
4. In the event the GEC desires the opinion of a member recused from discussion,
the justification for accepting that opinion must be reflected in the minutes of the
IV. Violations of the COI Policy
A. Non-Disclosed Interest – If any member of the GEC has reasonable cause to believe any other member did not disclose an Interest:
1. The member with cause shall reach out to the member of concern to clarify the issue.
2. If clarified as an Interest, the Interested Person will disclose such to the GEC at the earliest opportunity.
3. If the member with cause and the member of concern disagree regarding the Interest, the matter will be brought to the GEC for discussion and determination.
4. If the member with cause and the member of concern agree there is no Interest to disclose, the matter will not be brought to the GEC.
B. Reports of Suspected COI -If any party in the Complaint or member of the community at large has reasonable cause to believe a GEC member has an actual or possible COI in a case:
1. The Person with Cause shall inform EPS of the basis for such belief via the EPS Complaint Hotline or Webform.
2. If the member of concern has not already disclosed the Interest, the EPS Executive Director will contact the member of concern.
a. If the member of concern agrees there is an Interest, it shall be disclosed to the GEC.
b. If the member of concern does not agree there is an Interest, the matter will be brought to the GEC for discussion and determination.
C. Insufficient Information – If either the EPS ED or the GEC determine there is insufficient information for the GEC to evaluate whether there is an Interest, the ED shall make further investigation as is warranted by the circumstances.
D. Determination by GEC – In all cases where a nondisclosure as described above is brought to the GEC, the GEC will make its determination in accordance with section III (B) above, “Determining Whether a COI Exists.”
E. Additional Action – The GEC may take any additional action as it deems appropriate.
F. Notification to Person with Cause – The Executive Director will inform the Person with Cause whether the member/Interested Person will be recused from the case.
V. Records of Proceedings
A. Minutes – The GEC meeting minutes shall contain:
1. Documentation of COI:
a. The names of the persons with Interest – Those who disclosed or otherwise were found to have a financial or nonfinancial interest related to actual or possible COI, and
b. The nature of the Interest, and any action taken to determine whether a COI was present, and
c. Documentation of COI – the GEC’s decision as to whether a COI in fact existed, and
d. The name(s) of any individuals recused from voting and discussion on a case due to a COI in accordance with the GEC Complaint Procedure Guides policy.
2. Documentation of Non-Recused – The names of the persons who were present for discussions and votes relating to each case, a summary of the discussion, and a record of any votes taken in connection with the proceedings.
3. Inclusion of opinion of Recused Member – The justification for accepting the opinion of any member recused from discussion on a case.
Effective Date: May 24, 2022