A&M Beefs Up Conflict-of-Interest Rules

August 24, 2017

The Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System put in place strict new conflict-of-interest rules Wednesday that the system described as among the most restrictive in the state's higher education sector.

Under the new rules, chief financial officers, vice chancellors, chief auditors, chief compliance officers, provosts, vice presidents, deans, deputy agency directors, associate agency directors and others with equivalent job duties are prohibited from contracting for goods and services from vendors if they or their close family members have a financial interest in those vendors. The rules are a strengthening of a 2015 state law that already prohibited such contracting by chancellors, presidents, CEOs, general counsels, chief procurement officers and procurement directors.

The newly strengthened rules come just weeks after the departing provost and executive vice present at A&M was removed after an internal audit found conflict-of-interest issues related to her spouse's business relationship with the university. That provost, Karan Watson, said she was denied due process.

Under the new rule, a financial interest is an ownership interest of at least 1 percent of a private vendor or a case where someone could reasonably foresee a contract with a vendor could result in a financial benefit to an employee. Those covered by conflict-of-interest rules are required to file a financial disclosure annually.

Family members covered include spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, as well as relatives of spouses and spouses of children, parents, grandparents and grandchildren.

Hundreds of senior administrators and their family members are covered under the rules.

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