Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCI)

What is OCI?

Organizational Conflict of Interest means that due to other activities or relationships with other entities, an institution is unable to render impartial assistance or advice to the Government, cannot perform the federal contract work in an objective way, or has an unfair competitive advantage as compared to other entities.

It differs from personal conflict of interest, in that it is not based on or limited to a faculty member’s efforts or relationships, but rather it is a result of the institute’s work and interactions.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 9.5 details three basic categories of OCI:

  • Biased ground rules (FAR 9.505-2): Example – preparing/writing specifications or work statements for the government or other sponsor that the sponsor then uses in announcing a competitive funding opportunity.  If we do that, we cannot submit a proposal in response to that opportunity.
  • Unequal access to information (FAR 9.505-4): Example – gaining access to non-public information through performance of a federal contract whether the information is provided by the government or other entities and using that information to prepare a competitive proposal.
  • Impaired objectivity (FAR 9.505-3): Example – a statement of work that will include evaluations or assessments of performance of products/services offered by Georgia Tech and/or competitors that would unfairly bias recommendations to the government in favor of future business with Georgia Tech.

Proposals are evaluated as to whether any of the above kinds of activities occurred in their preparation.  In addition, one faculty member’s involvement in any one of these activities may preclude later awards to the institution, regardless of the engaged faculty member, based on the perception of potential or actual OCI.

See FAR Subpart 9.5 for general rules, responsibilities, and procedures regarding OCI.

 

How do I know if I need to have my proposal reviewed for OCI?

Whereas all institute activities should be considered when making a determination regarding actual or potential OCI, federal contracts that fall under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) often have a specific requirement that a contracting officer must make an OCI certification or representation.

To determine if your proposal or contract requires an OCI representation, and therefore requires a formal OCI review, search the solicitation and broad agency program guidance. Generally, a search on the word “conflict” will reveal any specific requirements.

Although OCI representations may be required by any federal agency under the FAR, these requirements are most commonly associated with DoD or NASA contracts or subcontracts. 

If you determine that your proposal or contract has an OCI representation requirement or you are not sure, note this in the eRouting system, by checking the appropriate radio button, under the OCI tab. This will alert the OCI committee to provide additional assistance to you in determining the best answers.  Don’t forget to attach or provide a link to the RFP in the eRouting entry, as the OCI committee will need this information to expedite next steps.

NOTE: Due to the large number of DoD contract in GTRI, all GTRI proposals entered into the eRouting system are routed for review for actual or the potential appearance of OCI.

What should I expect in an OCI Review?

If a formal review is triggered, your proposal will be routed to a member of the GT OCI committee. The committee will review the solicitation, scope of work, and GT contracting database to determine if there are OCI concerns. If there is not a representation requirement and the committee does not identify any concerns, the OCI committee member will update the routing sheet to reflect his/her determination and the proposal/contract routing flow will continue. If the committee determines that there is an OCI representation requirement and/or there are additional questions, the committee member will be in touch with the submitting PI before making a final determination.

Once the committee makes a determination and addresses all associated OCI documentation, the eRouting request will be updated to reflect this action and the proposal or contract will be forwarded to the next step in the workflow.  The OCI Committee is cognizant of the time constraints of the proposal submission process and will make every effort to conduct its work in a way that keeps submission to the sponsor on schedule.

 

Policy References

 

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