AAU, COGR and APLU recommend that OMB clarify the conflict of interest regulations in section 200.112 of the Uniform Guidance. OMB should make a technical correction to the UG, removing “selection of a subrecipient” to clarify that the intent of the regulations is to address conflicts that might arise around how a non-Federal entity expends funds under a Federal award and not to individual financial interests and work with federal agencies to ensure that agency policy is consistent with the regulations.
OMB FAQ .112-1 in section 200.112 of the Uniform Guidance was not meant to refer to “scientific conflicts of interest that might arise in the research community” but instead refers to “conflicts that might arise around how a non-Federal entity expends funds under a Federal award.” However, FAQ .112-1 is problematic because it incorporates “selection of a subrecipient”. Discussions with representatives from OMB and the COFAR suggest the intent of section 200.112 is to address conflicts specific to procurement actions, not the selection of collaborators. Research institutions and their Principal Investigators select collaborators based on a number of factors, most prominent being the enhanced scientific value that the collaborator will contribute. To impose a requirement designed to maintain the integrity of the selection of a vendor/contractor is inappropriate. In response to 200.112, agencies have begun releasing policies that are inconsistent and burdensome.