What is the difference between a Consulting Activity, an Academically Related Activity (ARA), and Dual Employment?
In each of these situations, the faculty member earns compensation for services rendered. The two key questions that distinguish these situations are: a. Is the work being performed while acting as a State of Connecticut employee or as a private citizen?, and b. Where will the compensation end up (i.e. in a State account or in the faculty member’s private pocket)?
Please note that:
Consulting is ”an activity performed by a faculty member for compensation as a result of his/her expertise or prominence in his/her field while not acting in his/her official capacity as a State employee (i.e. on his/her own time)” and the compensation is deposited into his/her own personal account/pocket. A consulting request form would be submitted using the Online Faculty Consulting Approval System (OFCAS) at http://forms.uconn.edu/apps/ofcas.
An Academically Related Activity (ARA) is when a faculty member is performing the work while acting as a State employee and the money will end up in a State account. These funds often, but not always, are deposited into an Academic Enhancement Account which can support typical business expenses. ARAs are approved using a Request for Approval of Academically Related Activities Form.
School of Medicine faculty should contact Dr. Steven Bergmann’s office at 860/679-2413. Please note that if the level of compensation is greater than $3,000, a contract will be required. Contact Donna McKenty at 860/679-2232.
School of Dental Medicine faculty should contact Mr. John Brigada at 860/679-4065. Please note that if the level of compensation is greater than $3,000, a contract will be required. Contact John Brigada (SoDM faculty) for more information on such contracts.
Dual Employment is when a faculty member is paid by the University and is doing work for another State of Connecticut agency. Please contact your campuses Human Resources Department to process the Dual Employment Form.
I am not a faculty member or a member of the faculty bargaining unit. Can I consult?
The University has reserved the word ‘consulting’ for activities being carried out by a faculty member or member of the faculty bargaining unit only and when such work is based on that person’s professional expertise or prominence in a field. Therefore, the Consulting Policy for Faculty and Members of the Faculty Bargaining Unit does not apply to you.
You may be allowed to be compensated for services rendered while not acting as a State employee provided that you do not violate other rules such as time due to the University. The Office of State Ethics would have jurisdiction over determining if you had a conflict of interest, had inappropriately benefited from your State position, had violated rules on confidential/proprietary information, etc. You could not perform this work on “time due to the University.”
Can I consult if the activity is not based on my professional expertise or prominence in a field?
The University has reserved the word ‘consulting’ for activities being carried out by a faculty member or member of the faculty bargaining unit and when such work is based on that person’s professional expertise or prominence in a field. Therefore, the Consulting Policy for Faculty and Members of the Faculty Bargaining Unit does not apply to you.
Do I have to participate in this process if I am only a 10%, part-time employee?
Faculty paid less than 50% time by the University of Connecticut and/or University of Connecticut Health Center do not need approval to consult. However, they may voluntarily elect to request prior approval to consult in order to qualify for the University’s carve-out from the State Code of Ethics. In such cases, all the rules of the Faculty Consulting policy are applicable. Once such a faculty member has requested approval to consult, all subsequent consulting activities in that fiscal year must also obtain such approval.
Sometimes offers to consult come without much notice. How can I obtain all the necessary approvals prior to the start of the activity?
The computer driven On-line Faculty Consulting Approval System (OFCAS), includes a rules engine that provides automatic notifications to those who need to review and sign approval forms and it allows a requestor to track where in the approval process a particular request is being held up using the “Dashboard” http://forms.uconn.edu/apps/ofcas-dash. Please note that since the email notification system is not 100% reliable in sending such messages, we suggest faculty send an email to their department head alerting him/her of the urgent request.
Why do I need permission to consult when the actual work is being performed only “on my own time” (i.e. on nights, weekends, holidays and vacation days)?
There are six major categories of ethics and compliance issues considered when a consulting request is being approved and all can apply whether the consulting takes place during the days and times you would usually be at work or in your free time. For example, a conflict of interest exists when there is a perception that the compensation you are being paid for consulting might influence your decision making as a State employee. In this case, the perception of influence buying doesn’t matter when you actually earned such compensation.
What is “time due to the University”?
The University’s Bylaws prohibit consulting on “time due to the University.” This is interpreted as whatever time is needed to fully address one’s job duties. This might include the need to work nights, weekends or holidays. If a faculty member is not fully addressing his/her job duties, then the department head, dean and provost have the right to disapprove all consulting requests from that faculty member.
What is ‘normal work time’, NWT (aka ‘normal work days’, NWD)?
Normal work time refers to the usual days and hours of the day that each faculty member is expected to be performing his/her University duties. With that said, we know that most faculty do not have a defined work week and therefore NWT might be unique to each faculty member and even change during the year. Consulting can take place during normal work time but it is expected that such work will be made up at other times. The University does not require an exact accounting for when the work will be made up (i.e. a time sheet), but relies on your annual evaluation to determine whether you are fully addressing your assigned job duties.
Why do I need to enter “Known dates during normal work time”?
Your department head must certify that your proposed consulting activity will not conflict with your University job duties. Since such duties might include scheduled classes, clinic hours, important meetings and similar activities, it is important that your department head knows not only the total amount of time you will be consulting during normal work time, but specifically when you will be doing such work.
This information can be submitted with the initial consulting request form. However, we are aware that the specific dates of consulting during NWT might not be known when first completing the consulting request form. In such cases, you may obtain permission from your department head for specific dates later (i.e. after your consulting request form has been approved), but at least 24 hours prior to each of them. If you chose the latter, be sure to retain the written documentation received from your department head in case the auditors ask you to produce such documentation.
Why do I need to fill out two different estimates of the amount of effort I will spend consulting as well as a ‘start’ date and an ‘end’ date?
Each of these items is used for a specific purpose:
“Total number of days (normal work days and other days) you expect to spend on this consulting activity?” – This is used to determine if the payment received is appropriate for the work expended. Being paid a huge amount of money for a small effort may raise the question of why would the contracting entity do that (i.e. what else do they expect in return?). Obviously, this number can never be zero (i.e. why would you be paid for doing no work?).
“Maximum number of the total days listed above that are during time you are normally expected to be at work?” – This is used to help ensure that the consulting activity will not impair you from fully discharging your State job duties including being at scheduled activities such as clinics, classes, office hours, and important meetings. We recommend making high estimates since there will be no issues if your actual consulting takes less normal work days than you had approval for, but the reverse would indicate you took time that was not approved.
“Start Date” – This is used to demonstrate that final permission to consult was obtained at least one day prior to the start of the activity (a requirement set by State statute). Rather than select a specific start date, you may choose to use the ‘upon approval’ option which doesn’t require you having to guess how long it might take to process your request.
“End Date” – This is used to ensure the consulting request form is contained with a single fiscal year (i.e. July 1 – June 30). If an activity crosses a fiscal year then it will require another consulting request form.
When I am at home on-call on nights and weekends, can I do consulting work such as reviewing documents or preparing for expert witness testimony?
As a general rule, a person cannot be acting as a State employee at the same time s/he is acting as a consultant (which by definition is not acting as a State employee.) This situation of passively being on call (i.e. waiting for the phone/beeper to go off which then triggers actions such as providing advice, coming into work to examine and/or treat patients, tend equipment, etc.) is an exception so long as the consulting work in no way affects the availability of the person to respond to the call or to completely and successfully carry out their on-call duties.
What is fast track approval?
The purpose of the accelerated approval process (aka “fast track”) is to shorten the length of time needed to obtain final approval to consult. Rather than require the approval of the department head, dean and Provost Office prior to the start of an activity, only the approval of the Department Head is needed.
With the introduction of the on-line consulting approval system, the fast track process is also designed to provide the faculty with more predictability of what types of activities will most likely be approved. There should also be more consistency between units as to what activities qualify.
Fast track activities may be characterized as those that are normally considered to be part of the faculty member’s professional development and which have very low risk of presenting a conflict of interest (or perception of conflict of interest.). These activities include review of scholarly manuscripts, service on federal granting agency review panels, delivery of colloquia at other educational or professional institutions, and musical or dramatic performances among others. The fast track system may be used when the remuneration does not exceed $5,000 per occurrence.
A complete list of eligible activities may be found at http://consulting.uconn.edu . Both the nature of the service to be provided and the funding source (i.e. the contracting entity) define these activities.
What if I am not receiving compensation for my consulting activity?
By definition, consulting is based on your academic expertise for which you receive compensation. If no compensation is received, then the work is not consulting.
If a third-party is paying for your travel while you are consulting, you do not need to complete the state ethics form (i.e. ETH_NE). This form is used when you are acting in the capacity of a state employee AND someone else is paying for the travel.
If there is uncertainty as to whether you will receive any compensation or third-party reimbursement for expenses/travel, you should submit the consulting form as a precautionary step.
Since this work is being done not as part of your regular responsibilities, then a Travel Request form may NOT be submitted nor is travel reimbursement by the University an option.
When completing a consulting request form, I know I must characterize the activity in one of the 14 specific categories. Why can’t I simply choose category 14 “other” in all cases?
There are two reasons why you want to use the other 13 categories if possible:
In order to determine if there is a possible conflict of interest, some activities require special attestations. For example, checking #12 “Provide advice regarding legal action and/or serve as an expert witness” generates the following attestations: (1) I have not been involved in any aspect of the case while acting as a State employee, and (2) I have been involved in an aspect of the case while acting as a State employee.
Checking one of the attestations is absolutely necessary before the request can be approved by your Department Head/Dean and the Faculty Consulting Office. If you don’t select the correct category, your request may have to be sent back to you for revision.
Each of the 13 specific categories may make your activity eligible for accelerated approval. The advantage of accelerated approval is that you only need approval from your Department Head prior to beginning the activity, and you will not need to wait for approval by the Dean or Provost’s designee. Information on what constitutes an activity for accelerated approval can be found at http://consulting.uconn.edu/policies.html
Per C.G.S. 1-84(r), the University has final jurisdiction to approve such consulting activities.