Confidentiality, Copyright Assignment, and Conflict of Interest Policy

In performing their responsibilities, members of the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) Board of Directors, Councils, committees, and consultants (“Persons”) may receive confidential information. Unless required by law, statute, regulation or a court or administrative body, a covered person shall not disclose any confidential information unless UCNS consents in writing. Confidential information does not include information that: (a) is in the public domain, (b) was known to the covered person when he or she accepted the appointment, (c) was independently developed by the Person, or (d) was subsequently learned from a third party not under a confidentiality obligation to the UCNS. These confidentiality obligations continue to apply following completion of the Person’s term. Any breach of confidentiality could result in irreparable damage to UCNS and its mission. 

Copyright Assignment
Any copyrighted or copyrightable materials including, but not limited to, writings, examination questions, drawings, images, or photographs that a Person creates or provides while performing UCNS services agrees that UCNS shall be the sole owner of the copyright in the materials. The Person shall assign to the UCNS all right, title, and interest in the copyrights to the materials that the Person may have, and the Person agrees, upon reasonable request, to sign appropriate documents to assign and transfer these rights and interests to UCNS and to permit the recordation of the assignments and transfers.

Conflict of Interest Policy
1.  Definition
A Person has a conflict of interest if the Person has a private interest that may interfere with the Person’s official UCNS responsibilities.

2.  Importance
Conflicts of interest are a matter of concern for the UCNS because Persons with conflicts of interest may appear to be less than impartial in their official capacities. Persons have a fiduciary duty to exercise impartial judgments for the best interests of the UCNS. The presence of a private interest may impair their ability to exercise competent judgment and be objective in their official UCNS capacity. A perceived conflict also diminishes the confidence of medical professionals and the public in the UCNS.

3.  Examples
Conflicts of interest to which this policy pertains include, but are not limited to, these examples:
  1. The Person is in a leadership position in an organization seeking membership as a Neurological Subspecialty Area (NSA) or Independent Board.
  2. The Board of Directors develops appeal processes to the Board in accordance with the bylaws, and a Person has a personal or business relationship with the appellant.
  3. A Person is asked to pass judgment on a program that may be in the same location and may therefore be competitive with his/her program.
  4. A Person involved with the teaching of board review educational offerings or board review publications of any type.

4.  Resolution of Conflicts
Conflicts of interest can be resolved or lessened through several strategies.  
  1. Avoidance. Serious conflicts should be avoided altogether by not participating in their role in the selected capacity for the UCNS in situations in which there is a significant conflict.
  2. Withdrawal. Persons with significant conflicts wishing to retain their official UCNS responsibility can divest the conflicting interest or withdraw from the conflicting relationship.
  3. Disclosure. Disclosure does not eliminate the conflict but mitigates it insofar as it permits others to become aware of the conflict, to monitor the Person’s performance, and to consider its effect when interpreting the Person’s judgments. Disclosure is the appropriate remedy for mitigating most instances of conflicts of interest.
5.  Disclosure Statement of Conflict of Interest
Disclosure of conflicts of interest to the Board of Directors is an ethical responsibility of the Person having the conflict. The Board of Directors has the ultimate responsibility of determining what limitations or actions may be necessary to protect the UCNS. If a Person is uncertain whether a conflict of interest exists, it is better to err on the side of disclosure. 

At the beginning of each member’s term of service on the Board of Directors or Council of the UCNS, the Person must complete an approved disclosure form. The individual submitting the form must update the form annually and when a change in personal circumstances causes the previously-submitted disclosure to be no longer correct.  

6.  Administrative Review and Action on Disclosure Statements
The following table explains who is responsible for promptly reviewing submitted conflict of interest disclosure statements:  

Individuals Submitting
Disclosure Statements
Reviewing Authority 
 Board of Directors  Chair, Board of Directors 
 Chair, Board of Directors  Board of Directors
 Executive Director  Chair, Board of Directors 
 Council Chair  Chair, Board of Directors 
 Council Member  Council Chair
 Consultant  Executive Director
 Committee Member  Council Chair

The Reviewing Authority may take possible courses of action with respect to each statement in which a conflict is acknowledged:
  1. There is no serious conflict. No action, short of appropriate disclosure, must be taken.
  2. There is an intermediate conflict. The presence of such a conflict is compatible with concurrent membership on the Board of Directors or Councils and the conflicting interest or relationship. The Board of Directors should carefully monitor the conflict and the conflict must be disclosed to fully information the audience/readers.
  3. There is a serious conflict. The Person must be removed from the official UCNS capacity, must divest the conflicting interest, or withdraw from the conflicting relationship. Disclosure alone is insufficient to handle the conflict.

7.  Organizational Conflicts with Industry and Institutions
A complex set of conflicts may accompany relationships of the UCNS as a whole with private industry and other institutions. This policy seeks to recognize and protect the benefits of these relationships while avoiding conflicts of interest that may arise. To reduce possible conflicts of interest, all such relationships should be bound by the following principles:
  1. Gifts from industry or organizations should be made as unrestricted grants. The Board of Directors must specifically approve any conditions or restrictions associated with a grant.
  2. The UCNS should make full disclosure of any grant or other financial relationships.
  3. The UCNS must retain full control over the methods used to acknowledge grants or gifts.