Issue Date: May 28, 2007
NIH conflict of interest rules lack clarity
NIH needs to clarify the recusal policies that senior employees follow to avoid conflicts of interest, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO-07-319). The report, which focuses on recusals and not on other conflict of interest remedies such as waivers or divestitures, found that "NIH has not established clear recusal policies for senior employees." It cites contradictory language in the agency's policy manual that leaves it unclear whether senior employees must recuse themselves in writing and whether they must tell their supervisors of their recusal. The report recommends that "the director of NIH expeditiously clarify NIH policies with regard to written recusals and supervisor notification related to senior employees' use of recusal to resolve conflicts of interest." The Department of Health & Human Services agreed with the findings and said the NIH policy manual will be revised.
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