Confidentiality, Copyright Assignment, and Conflict of Interest Policy

Confidentiality (4.07)
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 (4.07)
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 (4.06)
A.  Definition
A UCNS voting director, council member, committee member, or consultant has a conflict of interest if such person has a private interest that may interfere with his or her official UCNS responsibilities.

B.  Importance
Conflicts of interest are a matter of concern for the UCNS because directors, council members, committee members, and consultants with conflicts of interest may appear to be less than impartial in their official capacities. Directors, council members, committee members, and consultants have a fiduciary duty to exercise impartial judgments for the best interests of the UCNS. The presence of a private interest may impair the ability to exercise competent judgment and objectivity in an official UCNS capacity. A perceived conflict also diminishes the confidence of medical professionals and the public in the UCNS.

C. Guidelines
The following guidelines are not meant to restrict normal activities as an educator or researcher, including lecturing or writing or editing for journals or texts, except where there is an explicit indication that the material covered is designed to help pass a UCNS secure examination. Guidelines for conflicts of interest to which this policy pertains to include, but are not limited to: 
  1. Directors or council members must not hold a leadership position in an organization seeking membership as a Neurological Subspecialty Area or Independent Board.
  2. Directors or council members must not be involved in the development of appeal processes to the Board in accordance with the bylaws if they have a personal or business relationship with the appellant.
  3. Directors or council members must not pass judgment on a fellowship program that may be in the same location and may therefore be competitive with his/her program.
  4. Directors, council, or committee members must not be involved with the teaching of board review educational offering or board review publication that is identified as preparation for a UCNS subspecialty certification examination or C-cert activity.
  5. Directors, council, or committee members must not participate in the development of examinations given by other subspecialty organizations for “certification” or “continuing certification.”
  6. Certification examination committee members must not serve on any non-UCNS test-writing committees during their active UCNS committee term.
D.  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 an official UCNS capacity when there is a significant conflict of interest, and/or not participating in situations in which there is a significant conflict. 
  2. Withdrawal. Individuals with significant conflicts wishing to remain in their official capacities can divest the conflicting interest or withdraw from the conflicting relationship.
  3. Disclosure. Individuals with potential conflicts should disclose them fully to the Board of Directors. Disclosure does not eliminate the conflict but mitigates it insofar as it permits others to become aware of the conflict, to monitor the individual’s performance, and to consider its effect when interpreting his or her official judgments. Disclosure is the appropriate remedy for mitigating most instances of conflicts of interest, although at the discretion of the Board, the disclosing person may be asked to recuse himself/herself from the debate and/or from the vote on that issue. 
E.  Disclosure Statement of Conflict of Interest
Disclosure of conflicts of interest to the Board of Directors is an ethical responsibility of the individual having the conflict. The Board of Directors has the ultimate responsibility to determine what limitations or actions may be necessary to protect the UCNS. If the individual 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,  as director, council or committee member, or consultant, 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. 

F.  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  Chair, Board of Directors or Council
 Committee Member  Council Chair

The reviewing authority can take one of three 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. This is the most common action. 
  2. There is an intermediate conflict. Either the individual must be removed from his or her official UCNS capacity or they must divest the conflicting interest or withdraw from the conflicting relationship. Disclosure alone is insufficient to handle the conflict.
  3. There is a serious conflict. The presence of such a conflict is compatible with the individual’s official capacity. The Board of Directors should carefully monitor the conflict and act as and when it deems necessary.

G.  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.