In their capacity as leaders of AMIA, all individuals have an obligation to make decisions and conduct affairs of the organization based upon the desire to promote AMIA and its mission. The term “leaders” is used to refer to three groups; (1) AMIA employees (2) members of the board of directors, committee chairs, task force chairs, and general committee members when those particular committees are empowered or charged with making policy or ethics recommendations (also referred to as agents), and (3) committee members (excluding the policy and ethics committees covered above as agents) and elected working group leaders.
AMIA employees are expected to devote their primary professional loyalty, time, and energy to achieving AMIA’s goals and meeting its objectives. External activities conducted by AMIA employees should be of such nature as to promote the goals and objectives of AMIA. Employees should avoid any activity that might impede reaching those goals or would negatively affect AMIA’s mission and reputation. External activities must not distract significantly from employee responsibilities and must neither require excessive commitments of time nor compromise any intellectual property owned by AMIA. AMIA requires that its senior employees (Vice Presidents and above) and those employees who are authorized to sign checks, invoices, contracts, or other binding documentation as defined by AMIA’s Rules of Financial Management and AMIA’s Approval Authorization Chart sign an annual Conflict of Interest Disclosure form and manage all disclosed interest according to this policy.
Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, Task Force Chairs, and Members of Policy-setting Committees and Task Forces (Agents)
AMIA members place their trust in elected board members. As a function of the duty to care, board members’ legal obligations include ensuring the judicious use of all of AMIA’s assets. The actions of the board’s individual members must meet standards of personal conduct of the organization.
Board members must be reasonably informed about the organization’s activities, participate in decisions, and act in good faith in their role as the organization’s stewards. Board members must comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws, be faithful to the organization’s mission and bylaws, and ensure that AMIA complies with all applicable laws and regulations (duty of obedience). Board members must call upon on experts to help provide the information they require to be accountable as stewards. Board members must be accountable to the organization. In practice, this is carried out by disclosure of and adherence to the Conflict of Interest policy and maintaining a bias-free and transparent decision-making process.
The Board and agents have an obligation to understand and implement this Conflict of Interest policy and adopt procedures in accordance.
Committee Members and Working Group Chairs
AMIA’s other leaders are expected to serve their leadership term to the benefit of AMIA. This can be achieved only by assuring that decisions are made in an environment in which conflicts are disclosed and managed appropriately. The existence of a conflict of interest, commitment, or conscience does not in itself constitute unethical behavior – many complex and contemporary duties might be in conflict without malign intent.
Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest may arise when a leader has a role, investment, or obligation, or receives compensation or other benefit from another organization or entity, and where that relationship might bias decisions made on behalf of AMIA or may suggest that the leader’s loyalty is divided between AMIA and the other organization. A “competing interest” might arise in a transaction between AMIA and a third party, or from a leader’s volunteer or paid relationship with a third party, which may compromise the leader’s ability to provide undivided loyalty to AMIA. This policy sets no monetary or compensation threshold for a conflict of interest and includes noncompensated conflicts of interest as described below. The AMIA Conflict of Interest policies extend to AMIA leaders’ spouses, domestic partners, parents, and children.
Conflicts of Commitment
While financial conflicts of interest often receive the greatest attention, other kinds of conflicts might pose equally serious risks to objectivity and impartiality. Conflicts of commitment are usually not financial and do not generally involve gifts or other tangible benefits. A leader has a conflict of commitment if they have or believe they have duties or obligations to more than one entity, goal, or outcome, and these duties detract or distract one from meeting AMIA duties. A heavy non-AMIA-related travel schedule, for instance, might constitute a conflict of commitment. The proper response to conflicts of commitment is similar to or the same as that for conflicts of interest – management of the conflict by disclosure, recusal, or elimination of the conflict.
Conflicts of Conscience
A conflict of conscience might arise when an AMIA leader has personal, social, moral or political beliefs, or professional hopes for a particular outcome or result that diverge from official AMIA positions or positions under consideration. Conflicts of conscience can arise when one’s relationships or social, moral, or political views intersect with one’s AMIA duties. The proper response to conflicts of conscience is similar to or the same as that for conflicts of interest and commitment – management of the conflict by disclosure, recusal, or elimination of the conflict.
While we have defined three sub-types of conflicts, for the ease of discussion in this document, “Conflict of Interest” (or “COI” or “Conflicts”) will often be used to reference all types of conflict (e.g., Conflict of Interest Disclosure form will be used to report all types of conflict; COI Panel reviews all Conflicts, etc.).
Self-Disclosure Expectations and Process
To address any potential conflicts of interest proactively, all AMIA leaders defined in this policy are required to complete and submit an annual Conflict of Interest Disclosure form in January of each year. Candidates for elected leadership positions will be required to complete a Disclosure form prior to election. Newly appointed or employed leaders will be required to complete the Disclosure form within three months of their appointment or employment. The leader also must update the Disclosure form if any material changes or additions to the submitted information arise during the course of the year.
On the Disclosure form, the leader must list all financial transactions with other organizations, whether the leader or any family member (e.g., spouses, domestic partners, parents, or children) of the leader has an interest in any third parties providing goods or services to the organization, and any other (non-profit or for-profit) organizations with potentially conflicting interests in which the leader or any family member of the leader is actively involved, has a significant investment, or owns at least a 5% or $25,000 interest (whichever is smaller). All paid or unpaid positions or relationships with non-profit or for-profit third-party organizations should be listed. The leader is encouraged to disclose a relationship if there is any uncertainty as to whether the relationship should be disclosed. When completing the form, individuals should use a 24-month window of time (both 12 months before and after completing the form) when considering conflicts and disclosures. This self-reported information will be reviewed by the COI panel.
Leaders must reference the table (included within download below) regarding type of disclosed conflicts and recommend management of the COI. The COI Panel will decide on management based on the guidelines in the Table 1, which describes preferred ways that AMIA suggests individuals’ Conflicts be managed. As individuals complete the annual Disclosure form, they should refer to and consider the suggested management options. Table 1 describes typical Conflict situations and potential solutions for managing these Conflicts, but it is not exhaustive. If the suggested management options should not apply to a given circumstance, the individual should indicate why they feel this is the case by providing detailed information and offering management solutions. Leaders should report all potential Conflicts whether the type is listed or not.