EPA's Interim Financial Assistance Conflict of Interest Policy
On this page:
- 1.0 Purpose
- 2.0 Applicability, Effective Date and Relationship to other Policies
- 3.0 Definitions
- 4.0 Situations Requiring Disclosure
- 5.0 Disclosure Requirements by Applicant/Recipient Type
- 6.0 Scope of Inquiry
- 7.0 Timing of Disclosures
- 8.0 Content of disclosures
- 9.0 EPA Actions
As required by Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 200.112, EPA has established the following interim policy governing disclosure of actual and potential conflicts of interest (COI Policy) by applicants for, and recipients of, federal financial assistance awards from EPA. This policy is intended to prevent personal or organizational conflict of interests in the award and administration of EPA financial assistance.
2.0 Applicability, Effective Date and Relationship to other Policies
This policy applies to all individuals and non-Federal entities requesting and receiving EPA financial assistance on or after December 26, 2014. It is distinct from and different than EPA policies governing scientific integrity and those implementing the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. In addition, nothing in this Policy supersedes the conflict of interest provisions of EPA Order 5700.5A1, Policy for Competition of Assistance Agreements (02/06/2014) (EPA’s Competition Policy).
Applicant: An individual (including applicants for competitive fellowships under 40 CFR Part 46) or non-Federal entity who submits a competitive proposal and/or final Standard Form 424, Application for Federal Assistance (PDF) (3 pp, 265 K, About PDF)following selection by EPA to receive federal financial assistance award under competitive or noncompetitive procedures.
Conflict of Interest (COI): An actual or potential situation that undermines, or may undermine, the impartiality of an individual or non-Federal entity because their self-interest conflicts, or may conflict, with their duty and obligations to EPA and the public in performing an EPA financial assistance agreement. The term also includes situations that create, or may create, an unfair competitive advantage, or the appearance of such, for an applicant in competing for federal financial assistance from EPA.
COI Point of Contact: The individual designated by the applicant or recipient to disclose and resolve COI for Federal Financial Assistance awards or subawards. A COI Point of Contact must be an employee or officer of the Non-Federal Entity or another entity (e.g. consultant or attorney) expressly authorized by the Non-Federal Entity to speak on its behalf.
Federal Financial Assistance: This term is defined at 2 CFR 200.40.
Non-Federal Entity: This term is defined at 2 CFR 200.69.
Immediate Family: For the purposes of this COI Policy only, unless otherwise defined in a state, tribal or local government recipient or subrecipient’s laws, ordinances, or other legally binding enactments, Immediate family includes a person’s husband or wife; natural or adoptive parent; child or sibling; stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother or stepsister; father-, mother-, daughter-, son-, brother- or sister-in-law; grandparent or grandchild; or spouse of a grandparent or grandchild.
Individual: A natural person.
Pass-through entity: This term is defined at 2 CFR 200.74.
Recipient:This term is defined at 2 CFR 200.86 and for the purposes of this COI Policy also includes individuals who receive awards under EPA statutes authorizing direct Federal financial assistance to individuals.
State: This term is defined at 2 CFR 200.90. For the purposes of this COI Policy, institutions of higher education that are instrumentalities of a state under their state’s laws are subject to the same disclosure obligations as state government agencies.
Subaward:This term is defined at 2 CFR 200.92.
Subrecipient: This term is defined at 2 CFR 200.93 and for the purpose of this COI Policy also includes individuals (who are not program beneficiaries) who receive subawards.
Please refer to the appendix to this policy for the text of the above cited definitions from 2 CFR Part 200.
4.0 Situations Requiring Disclosure
This policy addresses the following COI situations:
(a) COIs related to Competitive Assistance Agreements. In the case of a competitive award that EPA will make under EPA’s Competition Policy whether an EPA employee drafted, reviewed, or commented on the applicant’s proposal or otherwise provided advice to an applicant on how to write a proposal with the exception of advice regarding whether the applicant or project was eligible for funding.
(b) COIs related to the selection, award and administration of recipient contracts. Any COI described at 2 CFR 200.318(c)(1) involving a procurement contract including, but not limited to, consulting fees or other compensation paid to employees, officers, agents of the applicant or recipient and/or members of their immediate families.
(c) Recipient procurement actions raising organizational COIs with a parent, affiliate or subsidiary organization that is not a State, local government or Indian Tribe. Any organizational COI described at 2 CFR 200.318(c)(2) involving a procurement contract. Organizational conflicts of interest means that because of relationships with a parent company, affiliate, or subsidiary organization, the non-Federal entity is unable or appears to be unable to be impartial in conducting a procurement action involving a related organization. For the purpose of this disclosure requirement, the non-Federal entity should use the definition of “affiliate” at 2 CFR 180.905 for guidance.
(d) Subaward COIs. Consistent with OMB’s Frequently Asked Questions on 2 CFR 200.112 any COI in the award, administration, or monitoring of subawards that would arise due to:
i. COIs similar to those described at 2 CFR 200.318(c)(1) including consulting fees or other compensation paid to employees, officers, agents of a subrecipient or members of their immediate families paid by procurement contractors or other subrecipients receiving EPA funding under a subaward.
5.0 Disclosure Requirements by Applicant/Recipient Type
(a) Consistent with 2 C.F.R. 200.317, COI Points of Contact for states must provide COI disclosures to EPA only in the situations described in Section 4.0 (a).
(b) Individuals selected for EPA Fellowship awards under 40 CFR Part 46 must provide COI disclosures to EPA only in the situations described in Section 4.0 (a).
(c) Non-federal entities other than states and individuals (with the exception of fellowship recipients) must provide COI Disclosures to EPA the situations described in Section 4.0 (a) – 4.0 (d).
(d) Applicants/Recipients, including states, acting as a Pass-Through entity must require subrecipients receiving or being considered for a subaward to disclose to the applicant/recipient the COI situations described in Section 4.0 (d). The applicant/recipient must in turn disclose the COI to EPA.
(e) EPA only requires that Applicants/Recipients disclose COI following the inquiries described in Section 6.0. If Applicants/Recipients do not discover a COI, they do not need to advise EPA of the results of their inquiries.
6.0 Scope of Inquiry
Applicants/recipients must conduct a reasonable COI inquiry to meet their disclosure obligations under Section 5.0 of this policy.
(a) The COI point of contact for COI disclosures addressing the situations described in Section 4.0(a) may limit COI inquiries to applicant personnel, contractors (including consultants), and project partners (e.g. potential subrecipients) who were involved in the preparation of the applicant’s competitive proposal.
(b) For pre-award COI disclosures addressing the situations described in Sections 4.0(b), (c), and (d), the COI point of contact must make a reasonable inquiry to determine whether any situations requiring disclosure are present prior to the applicant’s submission of its final SF 424. Inquiries may be limited to personnel with responsibility for selection, award or administration of procurement contracts or subawards for the project described in the final SF 424.
(c) For COI disclosures addressing the situations described in Sections 4.0(b), (c), and (d) after award, the COI point of contact must inform recipient personnel with responsibility for selection, award or administration of procurement contracts and subawards of their obligation to disclose COI.
(d) Pass through entities, including states, must impose COI inquiry requirements on Non-federal entities and individuals being considered for or receiving subawards that are, at a minimum, consistent with those required in this section.
7.0 Timing of Disclosures
(a) For awards EPA will make competitively under EPA’s Competition Policy, the COI point of contact for applicants must provide their COI disclosure to EPA within 10 calendar days of receiving notification from the EPA that they have been selected for an award unless EPA grants an extension of time. Should a selected applicant discover a previously undisclosed COI prior to EPA awarding financial assistance, the applicant’s COI point of contact must disclose the COI to EPA no later than 5 calendar days following discovery.
(b) In situations in which EPA is awarding financial assistance without competition, applicants must provide COI disclosures required by 4.0 (b), (c), and (d) when EPA advises them to submit a final Standard Form 424, “Application for Federal Financial Assistance” (SF 424). The COI disclosure must be provided in a prominently marked attachment to the SF 424. Should a selected applicant discover a previously undisclosed COI prior to EPA awarding financial assistance, the applicant’s COI point of contact must disclose the COI to EPA no later than 5 calendar days following discovery.
(c) For COI disclosures required by 4.0 (b), (c), and (d) that arise after EPA has made an award, recipients must provide their COI Disclosure, as applicable, within 10 calendar days of discovery of the COI to EPA.
(d) Pass-through entities must disclose subrecipient COI’s to EPA within 10 calendar days of receiving notification of a COI by the subrecipient unless the pass-through entity requests that EPA grant a longer period of time to resolve the subrecipient COI.
8.0 Content of disclosures
(a) All COI disclosures must be in writing preferably through email communication.
(b) In addition to describing the COI, applicants and recipients other than applicants for individual fellowships must provide EPA with any information regarding measures to eliminate, neutralize, mitigate or otherwise resolve the COI.
(c) Applicants for individual fellowships must include a detailed description of the assistance they received from an EPA employee in preparing their application or proposal with the exception of advice regarding whether they were eligible for a fellowship.
9.0 EPA Actions
(a) EPA will notify applicants of their COI disclosure obligations prior to award and include a term and condition in all awards describing recipients COI disclosure obligations. The notifications and terms and conditions will identify EPA’s point of contact for COI disclosures.
(b) The Agency will review COI disclosures and measures applicants/recipients other than applicants for individual fellowships propose to resolve the COI and advise applicants/recipients of EPA’s determination on the effectiveness of the measures within 30 calendar days of disclosure unless a longer period of time is necessary due to the complexity of the situation. EPA will not allow the cost of any procurement contract that materially violates 2 CFR 200.318(c)(1), an unresolved organizational COI under 2 CFR 200.318(c)(2) or a subaward that, in the Agency’s judgment, is affected by a similar COI.
(c) For individual fellowship applications, EPA will consider other factors such as the nature of the assistance the applicant received, the merits of the fellowship application, and ways in which a fellowship could be managed to resolve any COI in deciding whether to award the fellowship. EPA will notify the fellowship applicant of the Agency’s decision within 30 days of receiving the notification unless a longer period is necessary due to the complexity of the disclosure.