FAQs - Conflict of Interest

Q:    What is the Political Reform Act and what does it require?

A:    The State of California’s Political Reform Act of 1974, (Gov. Code, § 81000, et seq.), (the "Act"), prohibits public officials from participating in governmental decisions when personal financial interests may be affected by those decisions. The Act requires that all government employees and officials disqualify themselves from participating in a governmental decision when a financial conflict of interest is present.

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Q: Am I covered by the Act?

A:    All CSU employees are public officials subject to the Act. However, certain designated positions are identified in the CSU Conflict of Interest Code (COI). This designation requires employees appointed to these positions to annually file a Statement of Economic Interests, Conflict of Interest Form 700: Statement of Economic Interests and complete ethics training every two years.

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Q: What are Economic Interests?

A:    Personal Finances

A personal financial interest extends beyond the public employee’s own finances or investments.  A public employee has a personal financial interest in a university decision if it is reasonably foreseeable that the decision will have a material financial effect on the employee, a member of his or her immediate family, in any one of the five economic interests.  Gov’t Code § 87103.

Five Economic Interests

If it is reasonably foreseeable that any of the following will be materially affected by the decision, a conflict may exist:

  1. Any business entity in which the employee has a direct or indirect investment worth $2,000 or more, including ownership of stock by the employee or the employee’s spouse or dependent child.
  2. Any real property in which the employee has a direct or indirect interest worth $2,000 or more. One’s home is not included but any other investment property is.
  3. Any source of income which provides $500 or more in value promised to, or received by, the employee within 12 months prior to the time when the decision is made.
  4. Any business entity in which the employee is a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee, or holds any position of management.
  5. Any donor of, a gift or gifts totaling $440 or more, received, or promised to the employee within 12 months prior to the decision being made. Meals, travel costs, or anything else of value are included in the $440. (This amount is tied to a consumer price index and is occasionally adjusted.)

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Q: Why is my position designated?

A:    The specifically designated CSU employees to which the CSU Code applies are those who are considered most likely to be involved in university decision making or influence decisions where potential conflicts may be present that could significantly affect personal economic interests.

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Q: What is Form 700?

A:    The Political Reform Act requires most state and government officials and employees to publicly disclose their personal assets and income. The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is the state agency responsible for issuing Statement of Economic Interests, Form 700, and for interpreting the law’s provisions. A Conflict of Interest Form 700: Statement of Economic Interests is provided to employees by the university’s Conflict of Interest Officer or electronically by clicking on forms.

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Q: Why am I required to complete an online ethics training course?

A:    Employees who are required to file a  Conflict of Interest Form 700: Statement of Economic Interests or Conflict of Interest Form 700-U: Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators each April are in designated Conflict of Interest positions. Employees in designated positions must take ethics training course every two years. This course is required by law.

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Q: What if I am a new employee in a designated position?

A:    Newly appointed employees into a designated position are required to complete a Conflict of Interest Form 700: Statement of Economic Interests within 30 days and complete ethics training within 6 months of assuming the position.

 

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