UC professors fail to report outside income, shortchanging the university system

Five UC medical schools — those at San Francisco, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego — account for the majority of the university system’s health sciences faculty, and each maintains its own system for monitoring conflicts of interest and commitment, which occurs when outside activities pull a professor away from academic duties. Until this year, most campuses collected disclosures of outside employment with paper forms.

Lisa Bero, former chairwoman of UC San Francisco’s conflict-of-interest committee, said the panel “was always troubled by incomplete information” due to the lack of centralized reporting. The reports were mostly used by departments to determine whether faculty members were spending too much time working outside the university, rather than to identify potential conflicts of interest or the underreporting of income.

The university is rolling out a major initiative across campuses, known as the Outside Activity Tracking System, to improve reporting of outside activities and address potential conflicts, spokesman Stett Holbrook said in an email. It also plans in 2020 to “institute more formalized and focused auditing of disclosures,” Holbrook said. The new system makes reporting easier by employing a “simple, interactive format,” and it provides faculty with training and education on disclosure policies, he said.

Read more: