ACHA: Conflicts of Interest
This primer applies to the following ACHA volunteer leaders:
- ACHA officers (president, president-elect, immediate past president, vice-president, and treasurer)
- ACHA Board of Directors (board members)
- ACHA chairpersons and co-chairpersons for the following: association liaisons, board advisors, board advisory committees, coalitions, standing committees, and task forces
- ACHA Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee members
- ACHA section presiding officers (section chairs)
- The editor (or executive editors) of the Journal of American College Health
This primer does not specifically apply to affiliate leaders, but they are encouraged to adopt a parallel conflict of interest policy.
A conflict of interest exists when a corporate fiduciary has a status or relationship that may call into question the purity of the fiduciary's actions or decisions for the corporation. Serving in a volunteer leadership capacity carries with it an implied fiduciary responsibility which, among other things, compels us to acknowledge and manage conflicts of interest on behalf of our organization. We do so in recognition that the world in which we live, work or practice, and operate has become increasingly more complex, and therefore, it presents us with real issues that we must prudently address, or reassess from time to time.
The complex business environment of today is a reality. It presents us with situations and opportunities for multiple relationships with separate business or other organizational entities. It presents us with situations and opportunities for multiple relationships with separate business or other organizational entities. Inevitably, these relationships — by their very nature — will produce conflicting interests. But conflicts of interest are not inherently bad; they simply exist. Moreover, it is how an organization addresses their existence — in terms of disclosure and review — that determines their ultimate characterization and effect on the organization, its constituents, stakeholders and others.
ACHA's General Statement of Ethical Principles and Guidelines sets forth general guidance and expectations (as part of our professional responsibility and competence) that we disclose conflicts of interest. Commensurate with this, the ACHA Board of Directors has chosen to specifically set forth a conflict of interest policy [pdf] for volunteer leaders of the association. By establishing such a policy (inclusive of disclosure procedures), ACHA is better positioned to operate ethically in the current and future business environment.
What You Should Do
Review the Policy
ACHA respectfully asks that you review the ACHA Volunteer Leadership Conflict of Interest Policy [pdf]. It summarizes the basic concepts of conflict of interest. It also defines types of conflicts of interest, addresses the importance of disclosure of relationships, and sets forth who should disclose relationships that are, or may be, conflicts of interest with those interests of the association.
Please complete the online Conflict of Interest Disclosure Declaration regardless of whether you have any relationships to disclose, or not. By completion of the online form, it provides the documentation for record of both review and disclosure opportunity. Please do not infer from this request that there is any suspicion or mistrust surrounding you or the work that you do on behalf of ACHA. Instead, this action is being taken to further strengthen the association and reinforce its very foundation of integrity, fidelity and propriety. This same information is being requested of all of your colleagues in volunteer leadership positions.
Continue your outstanding work, practice, and professional conduct consistent with the General Statement of Ethical Principles and Guidelines [pdf].
What ACHA Will Do
Safeguard Your Confidential Information
The ACHA Executive Office will safeguard and limit access to the information you disclose about other business relationships. The compiled information that you submit online, pursuant to ACHA’s conflict of interest policy, may only be accessed via a designated user and password; such user/passwords being restricted to the ACHA CEO, Membership Director/Senior Volunteer Coordinator and ACHA Board of Directors Coordinator/Executive Assistant whose access will be only for purposes of compiling and reporting information pursuant with their responsibilities to operate the conflict of interest disclosure process. Once accessed, the compiled information will be shared (in a controlled manner) only: 1) with the Board of Directors (or the Executive Committee on behalf of the Board of Directors) in connection with their duty to review disclosed relationships in accordance with our policy; 2) with external oversight entities (such as auditors and continuing education accrediting organizations) that might require access to such information in connection with their oversight activities; or, 3) upon being compelled by court order or other competent legal authority to disclose the information.
Review and Resolve Conflicts
The ACHA Executive Office staff will present aggregated and individual disclosure information to the ACHA Executive Committee (which acts on behalf of the Board of Directors) in order for those officers to review and determine any problematic disclosures and potential remedy actions. Such actions identified may range from: requiring the disclosing individual to refrain from deliberations, voting, or other decision-making with respect to the subject or matter at issue to requesting that an individual resign from an office or position due to the conflict. In making this determination, the best interests of ACHA shall be the sole criteria for determining the remedy.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation in this important matter. ACHA enthusiastically looks forward to your volunteer leadership service.