TITLE 16
Education

CHAPTER 16-59
Board of Governors for Higher Education [See Title 16 Chapter 97 – The Rhode Island Board of Education Act]

SECTION 16-59-26


§ 16-59-26 The public and private partnership in education.

(a) Purpose. The state of Rhode Island recognizes that research is a primary mission of an institution of higher education. While carrying out its research mission, the state further recognizes that inventions of value to the public will be made by persons working in its public institutions of higher education. The marketing of these inventions will contribute to job creation and to the overall economic well-being of the state of Rhode Island and the nation. It is accordingly the policy of the state to encourage such inventors and inventions and to take appropriate steps to aid the inventor and ensure that the public receives the benefit. In facilitating this policy, the state recognizes the need for cooperation between governmental agencies, private industries, and the inventors themselves.

(b) Definitions. The following words and phrases used in § 16-59-26 have the following meaning:

(1) "Conflict of interest policies and procedures relating to research and development" refers to policies and procedures adopted by the Rhode Island board of governors for higher education in consultation with the Rhode Island ethics commission, and approved by the Rhode Island ethics commission;

(2) "Relationship" includes any interest, service, employment, gift, or other benefit or relationship;

(3) "Research or development" means basic or applied research or development, including:

(i) The development or marketing of university-owned technology;

(ii) The acquisition of services of an official or employee, by an entity for research and development purposes;

(iii) Participation in state economic development programs; or

(iv) The development or marketing of any technology on the premises of a public institution of higher education by an official or employee of the institution.

(c) Policy.

(1) The Rhode Island board of governors for higher education shall develop conflict of interest policies and procedures based on the purposes expressed in art. 3, § 7 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island, § 36-14-1, and in this section.

(2) The Rhode Island board of governors for higher education shall consult with the Rhode Island ethics commission in developing these polices and procedures and shall submit them to the Rhode Island ethics commission for approval in order to insure conformity with the purposes expressed in art. 3, § 7 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island, § 36-14-1, and in this section.

(d) Policy standards. The policies and procedures adopted by the board of governors for higher education under subsection (c) of this section shall:

(1) Require disclosure of any interest in, or employment by, or other relationship with an entity for which an exemption under this section is claimed, on a form filed with the ethics commission and the Rhode Island board of governors for higher education and maintained as a public record at the commission offices, the office of higher education, and at the interested public institution of higher education;

(2) Require review of all disclosures by a designated official or officials, who shall determine what further information must be disclosed and what restrictions shall be imposed by the Rhode Island board of governors for higher education to manage, reduce, or eliminate any actual or potential conflict of interest;

(3) Include guidelines to ensure that interests and employment for which an exemption under this section is claimed do not improperly give an advantage to entities in which the interests or employment are maintained, lead to misuse of institution students or employees for the benefit of entities in which the interests or employment are maintained, or otherwise interfere with the duties and responsibilities of the exempt official or employee;

(4) Require approval by the president of the public institution of higher education of any interest or employment for which an exemption is claimed under this section; and

(5) Require approval by the Rhode Island board of governors for higher education.

(e) Relationship permitted. An official or employee at a public institution of higher education may have a relationship, that would otherwise be prohibited by the Rhode Island Code of Ethics in Government, with an entity engaged in research or development, or with an entity having a direct interest in the outcome of research or development, only if the Rhode Island Board of governors for higher education has adopted policies and procedures in accordance with this section, and the official or employee has complied with the polices and procedures. If the provisions of this section are not met, the official or employee is not exempt from any relevant provisions of the Rhode Island Code of Ethics in Government.

(f) Annual reporting. The board of governors for higher education shall report annually to the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives, and the ethics commission the number of approvals granted under this section and how the conflict of interest policies and procedures adopted pursuant to this section have been implemented in the preceding year.

(g) Person not eligible. An official or employee who is a president, or vice-president at a public institution of higher education in Rhode Island may not receive an exemption under this section.

(h) Ethics commission review. The board of governors for higher education shall promptly notify the ethics commission in writing of any exemption that is granted under this section. If the ethics commission disagrees with an exemption that is granted pursuant to this section and the conflict of interest policies and procedures relating to research and development adopted by the board of governors for higher education, within thirty (30) calendar days after the receipt of the notice described in this section, the ethics commission shall notify the board of governors for higher education reason for its concern. Upon receipt of such notice from the ethics commission, the board of governors for higher education shall cause the matter to be re-examined at an open and public meeting pursuant to § 42-46-1 et seq.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2003, ch. 154, § 1; P.L. 2003, ch. 158, § 1.)