Frequently Asked Questions – Storrs and Regional Campuses

What are Academic Activities?

Attendance at professional meetings;
Reviewing of books or articles;
Giving occasional lectures and speeches;
Participating in colloquia, symposia, site visits, study sections, and similar gatherings;
Ad hoc refereeing of manuscripts.

What is accelerated 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's Office prior to the start of an activity, only the approval of the department head is needed.

Accelerated 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.

Both the nature of the service to be provided and the funding source (i.e. the contracting entity) define these activities. More information about activities eligible for Accelerated Approval.

What constitutes “Necessary Expenses”?

Travel;
Lodging and Food (at the approximate current federal and state per diem rates).

Can I be paid when I engage in an “Academic Activity” in my capacity as a State Employee?

No; you may be paid for "necessary expenses" only.

What can I do with an honorarium that includes “Necessary Expenses”?

Accept the pay for necessary expenses made out to you personally, and put the remainder in a departmental research support account.

To whom should the check be made out if it is to be deposited in a departmental account?

University of Connecticut

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's necessary expenses form. 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. As consulting is done outside of your regular responsibilities, travel reimbursement is not an option.

*Exception: The faculty member must get approval if the faculty member is working for a
faculty affiliated company in a paid or unpaid capacity, including as an
employee, consultant, or advisor.

What is “Material Use” of state resources?

Anything that would incur cost to the state;
Anything that one could not comfortably justify as part of routine "academic activity."

How is my consulting time calculated?

Consulting should not interfere with "time due to the University," which is any time necessary for successfully carrying out the duties assigned to and for which a faculty member was hired. This includes both sufficient time to perform assigned duties as a well as sufficient opportunity to meet with other faculty, staff, and students. The Storrs Faculty Consulting Office recommends a maximum one-day-a-week for consulting activities.

How does one count consulting days, if the activity is done on time “Not due the University”?

Days that are not due to the University do not count against the recommended one-day-a-week allowed for consulting. However, faculty members should ensure that even though consulting may occur during time "not due to the University," the activity does not interfere with the satisfactory completion of their University responsibilities.

What if I initiate my consulting activity before I receive approval from the University?

Without prior University approval, you do not have the benefit of the legislative carve-out and are subject to the jurisdiction of the Office of State Ethics.

Do new forms need to be completed and approved prior to making changes to a previously approved activity?

Yes; forms on file must always be the most current for the consulting activity.

How can approval be obtained for last minute offers to consult?

Submit the form as soon as possible, and alert your department head and the Faculty Consulting Office.

Can a person who is not a member of the faculty and not a member of the AAUP bargaining unit consult?

The word "consult" is being used only when this type of activity is carried out by a faculty member or a member of the AAUP bargaining unit.

Employees who are not faculty or members of the AAUP bargaining unit may be allowed compensation for services rendered, provided that rules such as time due to the University are not violated.

The Office of State Ethics would have jurisdiction over determining if there were a conflict of interest, inappropriate benefits resulting from state employment, violation of rules on confidential/proprietary information, etc.

UCPEA members should reference UCPEA Article 39 for policies and procedures regarding consulting.

How does the State Ethics Code define a conflict of interest?

The primary source of conflict in consulting would be any activity that would impair one’s ability for independent judgment as a state employee. In other words, state employees and their families may not benefit from their state positions.

Can a faculty member or a member of the AAUP bargaining unit use the University’s name when consulting?

The faculty member may indicate that they work at the University, but they may not speak, act or make representations on behalf of the University, or express institutional endorsement for an activity or product.

Is an award which I receive considered consulting?

No. The receipt of an award is not consulting and you do not need to submit the Faculty Consulting Request form. Consulting is defined as being compensated for services rendered and awards are not payment for services rendered.

However, the submission of other forms may apply:

If the entity from which the recipient is receiving the award is paying for the recipient’s travel and other expenses to attend an awards event, the recipient must complete the state’s ethics form to report necessary expenses.

Are graduate assistants subject to the policy on consulting?

No, graduate assistants are not eligible for the carve out of the state ethics code nor covered by the policy on consulting.

I am on a 9 (or 10 or 11) month appointment. Must I file a consulting form if the consulting takes place during summer months?

Yes. Salary and benefits are paid over a 12-month period and faculty, regardless of appointment term, are considered employees throughout the year. There is an unlimited amount of consulting in the summer (zero days) for faculty with no other UConn responsibilities during the summer months; however, as stated in the Consulting Policy, approval must be obtained for every consulting activity.

Certain summer consulting activities are eligible for pre-approval without the submission of a consulting form, although faculty may choose to use the normal consulting form and approval process. If an activity qualifies for pre-approval in the summer, faculty must report their summer activities by September 15th.

Is your legitimate consulting experience potentially being compensated with non-cash considerations such as stock, stock options, material gifts, etc.?

If your services promote your development as a faculty member - and it is true consulting - then it is acceptable to receive the non-cash considerations as a means of compensation.

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, 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 actually 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.