Guidance document: for members of NRC advisory committees and boards
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) greatly appreciates the involvement of its external Advisory Committee and Board members who give of their time and expertise in the national interest. As these individuals are often active members of the community of interests involved in the programs and services under consideration, NRC has adopted measures to manage conflict of interest situations. To this end, this document seeks to assist members perform their role in such a manner that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of NRC are conserved and enhanced.
A Conflict of Interest situation exists when a person has, or could be perceived as having, influence on official decisions where the outcomes of those decisions might affect his or her private interests.
This document highlights the key considerations to be examined in addressing and managing conflicts of interest in a way that supports individual members and ensures the integrity of NRC's advisory committee and board system which includes special task forces and other similar bodies.
The terms of reference of each committee and board may include additional requirements relating to specific conflict of interest issues.
This document is based on the provisions of the NRC Conflict of Interest Policy which applies to NRC employees.
NRC advisory committee and board members are asked to:
- Arrange their private affairs to prevent a conflict of interest in respect of their participation on an NRC Advisory Committee or Board.
- Remove themselves from any discussion, decision, debate or vote if they would be in a conflict of interest. In situations where the involvement is less direct, conflict of interest may be effectively avoided by declaring the bias and asking for guidance in terms of participation in the discussion. This can usually be managed at the Committee or Board level.
It is recommended that such actions be recorded in the relevant documents, such as minutes or reports.
- Refrain from using information that is not available to the public to further one's private interests.
- Not use their role as a member to influence a decision to further private interests.
- Not accept any gift or other advantage that might be seen to have been given to influence them in the exercise of their functions as members.
Individuals who have been invited to serve on an NRC advisory committee or board shall provide the NRC Secretary General with a written briefing on potential, apparent or actual conflicts of interest before or upon appointment. The briefing shall cover the following: participation in an activity, outside employment, possession of an asset or liability; receipt of a gift, hospitality or other benefit which could, be considered a conflict of interest with respect to their committee and board responsibilities. Once they are appointed, members are asked to review these obligations on an ongoing basis and submit a declaration if there are relevant changes that could raise conflict of interest concerns.
Upon receipt of written notification, (e-mail or letter) from a member, the NRC Secretary General will provide guidance on how best to address and manage the situation. In general, this is done in consultation with the member.
Special care will be taken when NRC seeks to award contributions or enter into contracts with individual members or their organizations. This could occur, for example, when a member offers a unique good, service or expertise to NRC. Such arrangements will be undertaken in adherence to the federal government's Contracting Policy with the additional requirement of the prior clearance of the NRC Secretary General, which may or may not be provided. The Committee or Board should be informed if such an arrangement has been made.
The NRC Secretary General's Office will treat information provided by members in a confidential manner pursuant to the federal Privacy Act. The Secretary General may seek advice from NRC's Management, Legal Services, or others, as necessary.
Any record provided by members will be kept in secure files at NRC's Record Services in Building M-58, Montreal Road, Ottawa - only the Secretary General or the Secretary General's designate(s) will have access to these documents.
This document replaces the NRC COI Code for advisory board members (2005).
Conflict of Interest Office
Secretary General's Office (SGO)
1200 Montreal Rd
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R6
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