ARCHIVED - Policy on Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality in the context of Merit, Relevance and Peer Review (CCIP)

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Please note that this updated policy supersedes the version posted on September 3, 2009.

Table of Contents


Summary of Changes

Table of Contents

Please Note that this updated policy supersedes the version posted on September 3, 2009.

Changed date from June 12, 2008 to September 3, 2009.

1.0 Effective Date

An annual revision of this policy has resulted in revised versions posted in 2009 and this current version in 2010.

Added this line to clarify revision cycle.

2.0 Application

It applies to anyone involved in CIHR's grants and awards competition processes. Such persons include, but are not limited to, members of Governing Council and its Standing Committees and Subcommittees, Scientific Directors, Institute Staff, Members of Institute Advisory Boards, as well as CIHR employees and volunteers -

Word changes in bold for clarification.

4.0 Policy Objective

The objective of this policy is to provide guidance in the management of potential conflict of interest, and to ensure the confidentiality of personal information submitted to CIHR for Grants and Award Competitions.

Word changes in bold for clarification.

6.0 Principles

Accountability and Disclosure: Decision-makers and those required to disclose conflicts of interest and to maintain confidentiality, should be accountable for their required actions.

Remove "required"

7.4.2 Sharing of documents with Nominative Information where CIHR Conducts a Review

If (i) (ii) or (iii) are not met, refusal by the applicant to consent shall not influence a funding decision by CIHR.

Added bolded wording and removed - "Unless such consent is a condition of funding" because "condition of funding" is not an accurate term, it should be a condition of application. The new wording clarifies this issue.

9.0 Breach of Policy

Any breach of this policy may result in a review of the matter, with CIHR reserving the right to take appropriate action including, but not limited to, the removal of the respondent from serving on CIHR committee(s) or acting as a partner.

This section was added to explain the consequences of a breach of the CCIP

10.0 References

Added the Observer and Member CCIP forms

This will allow connection to these forms on the internet.

1.0 Effective Date

The CIHR Policy on Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality in Merit, Relevance and Peer Review (CCIP) was approved by the Governing Council on March 18, 2008 and is effective as of June 30, 2008. An annual revision of this policy has resulted in revised versions posted in 2009 and this current version in 2010.

2.0 Application

This Policy applies to merit, relevance and peer review (collectively referred to as 'review'). It applies to anyone involved in CIHR's grant and awards competition processes. Such persons include, but are not limited to, members of Governing Council and its Standing Committees and Subcommittees, Scientific Directors, Institute Staff, Members of Institute Advisory Boards, as well as CIHR employees and volunteers - including both internal and external reviewers, contractors, partners and members of steering, standing and consultative committees.

This policy supersedes a previous policy entitled Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality in Peer Review (CCIP) dated December 2004.

3.0 Authority

Governing Council is authorized, under paragraph 14(d) of the CIHR Act, to "establish a peer review process for research proposals made to the CIHR. The establishment of a peer review process necessarily includes the development of appropriate policies and procedures. CIHR's obligations under the Privacy Act are reflected in the sections of the policy that deal with confidentiality."

4.0 Policy Objective

The objective of this policy is to provide guidance in the management of potential conflict of interest, and to ensure the confidentiality of personal information submitted to CIHR for Grants and Awards competitions.

5.0 Definitions

Conflict of Interest: For the purposes of this policy, a conflict of interest is a conflict between a person's duties and responsibilities with regard to the review process, and that person's private, professional, business or public interests.

Confidentiality: For the purposes of this policy, confidentiality is information about a person that shall not be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone else without that person's prior expressed consent.

Material Conflict of Interest: For the purposes of this policy, a material conflict of interest is an interest which, in view of the circumstances, could reasonably be expected to affect independence or impartiality of the person with the interest.

Determination of materiality is contextual and, to some degree, subjective. Increase in the magnitude of factors such as the following, exacerbate the risk that a conflict of interest is material:

  1. Potential for professional or personal benefit.
  2. Level of leadership or authority.
  3. Professional or personal proximity to the competition or application being reviewed, or to an applicant.
  4. Direct or indirect financial interest in a competition or application being reviewed.

Nominative Information: For the purpose of this policy, nominative information is any information which directly or indirectly reveals the identity of an applicant.

6.0 Principles

This policy shall be interpreted and applied in a way that best reflects the following principles.

Objectivity and Integrity: Reviews should meet the highest standards of objectivity and integrity.

Fairness: No applicant should be unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged in review processes.

Confidentiality: Information about and belonging to applicants should remain confidential unless applicants have consented to the release of such information.

Transparency: Processes addressing conflict of interest and confidentiality in reviews should be clear and should be operationalized in an open, accessible manner.

Accountability and Disclosure: Decision-makers and those required to disclose conflicts of interest and to maintain confidentiality, should be accountable for their required actions.

7.0 Policy Requirements

7.1 Eligibility to Compete for Funding

Any otherwise eligible person may apply to a competition unless:

  1. that person (or a third party) has disclosed a material conflict of interest in regard to the competition, and has subsequently been determined to be in material conflict of interest by CIHR's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or his/her delegate; or
  2. that person has funding-decision authority for the competition.

7.2 The Review Process

7.2.1 Observing Review:

Any otherwise eligible observer may be permitted to observe a review committee meeting unless:

  1. that person (or a third party) has disclosed a potential conflict of interest in regard to the competition, and has subsequently been determined to be in material conflict of interest in regard to the competition by CIHR's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or his/her delegate; or
  2. that person has funding-decision authority for the competition; or
  3. that person is a participant on an application to be reviewed by the committee.

7.2.2 Review Committee Membership:

Eligibility

Any otherwise eligible reviewer may be considered for membership on a review committee unless he/she:

  1. has disclosed a potential conflict of interest in regard to the competition to be reviewed, and has been determined to be in material conflict of interest in regard to the competition by CIHR's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or his/her delegate; or
  2. has funding-decision authority for the competition; or
  3. is a Principal Applicant on an application to be reviewed by that committee.

Nomination

  1. Anyone may nominate a candidate for appointment to a review committee.

Selection and Appointment

  1. Selection and appointment of peer and merit review committee members rests with CIHR's Research Portfolio staff in accordance with pre-established criteria.
  2. Selection and appointment of relevance review committee members rests with the CIHR Institute or Branch that has launched the competition.

7.3 Disclosure

Any person involved in CIHR's competition process, who becomes aware of a material conflict of interest, must disclose the conflict to CIHR's CFO or his/her delegate.

7.4 Confidentiality: Sharing of Nominative Information

7.4.1 General:

CIHR and Partners, and those acting on their behalf, shall not disclose Applicants' nominative information unless:

  1. applicants have been made aware, prior to application, that documents containing nominative information may be disclosed and the specific purpose of the disclosure; or
  2. an applicant has provided written consent to such disclosure, and Research Portfolio staff informs the applicant of the parties receiving the nominative documents and the purposes of the disclosure.

If (i) or (ii) is not met, and the applicant refuses to allow the disclosure of his/her nominative information, refusal by the applicant shall not be a factor in the funding decision.

7.4.2 Sharing of Documents with Nominative Information where CIHR Conducts a Review:

Review related documents shared by CIHR with parties outside the Research Portfolio can be nominative, if:

  1. Parties agree to keep the information confidential according to their organization's policies and procedures.

And

  1. All applicants to the competition have been made aware, prior to application, that documents containing nominative information may be shared, and with whom they may be shared; or
  2. Research Portfolio staff request permission from an applicant to share documents containing their nominative information with identified parties, explains the purpose of the request, and obtains written consent from the applicant.

If (i), (ii) or (iii) are not met, refusal by the applicant to consent shall not influence a funding decision by CIHR.

7.4.3. Where a Review is undertaken by CIHR and a Partner

Memorandum of Understanding:

Where CIHR undertakes a review together with a Partner, all material terms of the partnership must be contained in a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU must include:

  1. The scope of and limitations to joint decision-making;
  2. The nature of shared documentation and whether or not it is nominative;
  3. An undertaking that documents and information shared with the Partner, or by the Partner, shall be limited to that required for administrative and assessment purposes;
  4. An undertaking by the Partner to adhere to this policy and other relevant CIHR policies;
  5. An undertaking by CIHR to adhere to the Partner's policies provided that they are not in conflict with those of CIHR;
  6. An undertaking by CIHR and the Partner to observe all relevant law, including federal privacy and access to information legislation;
  7. An undertaking by the Partner not to disclose any documents provided by CIHR to any other person and not to use them for any purpose other than for assessing applications, or any other purpose agreed to by the applicant, and to return them to CIHR at the end of the competition.

8.0 Roles and Responsibilities

This policy is administered by the CFO of CIHR or his/her delegate. Where there is dispute regarding a finding of material conflict of interest or any other decision taken under this policy by a delegate, the finding or decision may be brought to the CFO for a ruling. The CFO's ruling may be appealed in writing to the President, who must overturn or uphold the CFO's ruling in writing.

Roles and Responsibilities within CCIP

Role Daily Managerial Responsibility Final Accountability
Overall management of peer/merit review process Deputy Director, Research Portfolio and Program Managers CIHR's CFO or delegate
Overall management of relevance review process Institute Scientific Director or Assistant Director or the Branch Director CIHR's CFO or delegate
Selection of Peer/Merit Review members Deputy Director CIHR's CFO or delegate
Development of MOU with Partners Institute Scientific Director or Assistant Director or the Branch Director CIHR's CFO or delegate
Determination of material Conflict of Interest CFO or delegate CIHR's CFO or delegate
Disclosure of material, perceived or potential Conflict of Interest Anyone involved in the review process CIHR's CFO or delegate
Ensure confidentiality Anyone involved in the review process CIHR's CFO or delegate

9.0 Breach of Policy

Any breach of this policy may result in a review of the matter, with CIHR reserving the right to take appropriate action including, but not limited to, the removal of the respondent from serving on CIHR committee(s) or acting as a partner.

10.0 References

The following legislation is relevant to the CCIP:

  1. Access to Information Act
  2. Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
  3. Privacy Act
  4. Conflict of Interest Act
  5. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

The following policies inform the CCIP:

  1. CIHR Peer Review Manual for Grant Applications - Section 3: Principles of Peer Review: Confidentiality, Conflict of Interest and Fairness
  2. Grants and Awards Guide (CIHR)
  3. Government Security Policy (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)
  4. Treasury Board Manual - Privacy and Data Protection Policy & Guidelines
  5. Treasury Board Manual - Access to Information Policy and Guidelines
  6. Peer Review Applicant Consent Form for Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to CIHR [ PDF (Fillable) | Help ]
  7. Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service (Canada Public Service Agency)
  8. Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Observers of Peer/Merit Review Committees [ PDF | Help ]
  9. Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Members of Peer/Merit Review Committees [ PDF | Help ]

11.0 Enquiries

Please direct enquiries about this policy to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or email FundingPolicy@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.