Guidance for managers and employees

NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)

Application of NRC Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment (COI PE) Policy

This document has been developed in conjunction with the NRC Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Policy and is intended to provide additional clarity and information for areas most frequently associated with the duties related with NRC-IRAP activities.

Issue IRAP specific requirements NRC COI PE Policy Section
ANNEX B
Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

When IRAP employees have a COI concern, they are to seek input from their management, typically the named Supervisor and/or Reviewer on their Commitment to Excellence (CTE). Alternatively, the employee (or supervisor/reviewer) can consult the Office of the Vice-President, IRAP through the Executive Advisor. The individuals may also consult the NRC Secretary General's Office (NRC-SGO) as required.

In addition, NRC-IRAP employees must file a written declaration with the NRC Secretary General's Office (NRC-SGO), notwithstanding the consultations with their management or the IRAP Vice-President's Office (Executive Advisor). This requirement is the same for all NRC employees seeking guidance on a conflict of interest situation. These forms are kept centrally with the SGO, but consultations occur with the respective division responsible.

Direct supervisors must be informed through this process of their employee's conflict of interest as they are accountable in managing and mitigating issues on an ongoing basis.

Section 2
Introduction
(Paragraph 1)
Confidentiality and Public Endorsement

At all times, IRAP employees must be cognizant of keeping client information confidential and not being perceived as endorsing their clients and/or their activities.

IRAP develops relationships with firms that could have different approaches to the same business opportunity – it is not our position to only support one of those firms. We will apply the same rigorous assessment process to all and make the appropriate decisions.

1. E) and F)
Social Media/Websites

IRAP employees are required to adhere to the terms outlined in the NRC’s Employee Web 2.0/social media directives as they pertain to both their professional and personal activities.

Any reference to clients or partners on personal websites or social media accounts should not contain confidential business information.

IRAP employees need to take particular care in their public communications activities, including their presence on all social media platforms, to avoid any perception of endorsement by NRC of any private business, product, service, or individual unless authorized. IRAP employees who wish to publish content on social media about NRC or any of its programs must include a disclaimer in their public profile that states all opinions and views are their own and do not represent those of NRC.

Introduction
(Paragraph 3)
Other Professional Codes IRAP employees are expected to observe the statutes governing their professions (such as architecture and engineering) in the performance of their duties. Should they perceive a conflict between those requirements and this Policy or other policies established by NRC and the Government of Canada, they should seek guidance from IRAP management and the NRC-SGO. Introduction
(Last paragraph)
Prior to NRC Employment

Prior to becoming an employee of IRAP, prospective employees should be offered the opportunity to discuss the context of COI within IRAP and how this may affect their outside interests. Before letters of offer are provided to prospective employees, managers should ensure that a conflict of interest discussion has taken place, and that any potential risks have been assessed and direction has been provided to mitigate the potential employee's situations of risk. Managers will be informed regarding declarations and subsequent directions so that they might manage appropriately.

2
(Paragraph 2)
Private Interests

Anyone considering an offer of employment with IRAP must declare private interests that could be affected by activities they could be involved in as NRC employees. Moreover, depending upon the appearance of conflicts and the nature of the interests, these could include interests of spouses, other immediate family, close friends, and former business associates.

1 b)
Confidential Business Information

IRAP employees must take particular care to ensure that their privileged access to confidential client information is not used or perceived to be used in a way that could create a conflict of interest situation. Information should only be accessed/shared on a need-to-know operational basis. With respect to appearances, one question to consider is “How would this appear to a reasonable observer?

1 c)
Political Activities

IRAP employees are governed by the same limitations on involvement in political activities as other NRC employees. Additionally, they are to avoid encouraging clients to support particular candidates or political parties.

1 g) & 2.2
Assets

Any type of royalty or other benefit arrangements associated with technology-based intellectual property, whether established before NRC employment or not, should be detailed and declared to determine any possible or potential conflicts.

Current NRC-IRAP employees and their spouses are not permitted to acquire shares (self-directed) in innovative technology-based SMEs without NRC approval.

Prospective employees who hold shares in such entities or have liabilities, such as a loan from such a firm, acquired prior to employment with NRC, will need to declare and consult with the Vice President's office and NRC-SGO. Guidance or direction will be provided to determine whether the potential employee should divest those interests (ownership, shares or liability) or whether potential conflicts of interest can be managed. On an ongoing basis, employees holding such interests will need to declare any proposed changes to ownership, so as to assess concurrent employment activities.

2.1
Outside Employment In addition to following the general provisions of this NRC COI-PE Policy, IRAP employees must also obtain prior approval from their management to engage in outside employment or other activities that could reflect on IRAP. Management will assess whether these activities could impact an employee's ability to fulfill their obligations to their employer and clients. 2.2
Boards and Committees

IRAP employees are not permitted to serve on the boards of directors or advisory boards of private corporations.

Although such involvement in other entities (professional associations, community or not‑for‑profit organizations) may be permitted, IRAP employees must disclose such activities to their supervisor when there could be a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest. This will permit an assessment of the situation in light of their NRC duties in order to manage it accordingly. There could be sensitivity in this kind of external activity when, for example, IRAP staff and IRAP clients act as colleagues within the board/committee context.

2.2
Gifts, Hospitality, and Other Benefits

IRAP employees are normally required to decline all offers of gifts, hospitality, opportunities to participate in restricted contests, and other benefits from clients or other business interests that are indirectly related to their employment with NRC.

Should declining of a gift be deemed unsuitable due to a specific circumstance (e.g., in some cultural engagement activities), the gifts should be of minimal value (less than $50) and immediately declared with your supervisor for assessment.

It is not acceptable to accept invitations extended by clients to sports or entertainment events.

A best practice is to advise new clients as part of an initial meeting that, as an agent of the Crown, the offering and accepting of gifts is inappropriate.

2.3
Solicitation

IRAP employees are not to solicit contributions for charitable campaigns, including the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC), from IRAP clients or potential clients.

2.4
Preferential Treatment

IRAP employees are to make a declaration when aware that an NRC-IRAP client or potential client employs or is considering employing a friend of the employee or someone with whom the employee has a close relationship. IRAP management, in consultation with the NRC-SGO, will identify measures to address the appearance of conflict of interest and to support the exercise of impartiality in IRAP decisions.

2.5
Post-Employment Designated Category

IRAP managers and Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs) are in the Post-Employment Designated Positions as described in the Policy and are subject to restrictions for the 12 months following their employment with the NRC.

While a former IRAP employee may seek and obtain a waiver under the terms of the Post Employment policy to secure employment with an IRAP client, IRAP will not approve funding to client firms for the salaries of former IRAP employees (during the post-employment phase).
3.