Recusals (Disqualifications)

A recusal or disqualification is a method used to resolve an apparent or actual conflict of interest. A disqualified employee may be required to sign a written statement reflecting the scope of the disqualification and the precise nature of the conflicting interest or activity. The disqualification should also identify the individual who will deal with the matters from which the employee is disqualified. The individual who will deal with these matters must be at a higher organization level than the employee (i.e., the employee's supervisor), and that individual may not discuss those matters with the disqualified employee.

An apparent conflict of interest arises where an employee is involved in a particular matter involving specific outside parties (including individuals, corporate entities, etc) and the circumstances are such that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would question the employee's impartiality in the matter. Such circumstances include the involvement of a relative, spousal employer, or former employer in the matter. In this case, the employee would need to be disqualified from participation in the particular matter.

An actual conflict of interest exists when the employee is involved in matters that will have a direct and predictable effect on a personal financial interest.  In addition, an actual conflict exists when someone whose financial interests are "imputed to the employee" (affect the employee), such as spouse, minor child, partner, outside employer, etc., has a financial interest affected by the official matter. In this case, it could be possible that the employee's official actions could have an effect on his/her own financial interests. Therefore, the employee must be disqualified from participation in such matters.

See also NIH Manual Chapter 2400-04 Managing Conflicts of Interest and the Introduction of Bias, section E.2. regarding Recusal/Disqualification. (NIH/OMA manual chapters web site)

Use the recusal template on the forms page.  There is one template for IC Directors and another for all other employees.  Both are available in Word and WordPerfect.

For additional information, contact your IC's Ethics Officials (see links below).

Updated: 2/19/13