Conflict of Interest Policy

Conflict of Interest Policy
October 28, 2013

On February 28, 2013, the Council of the Meteoritical Society approved a Conflict of Interest Policy. This policy appears below.

Introduction

US law requires tax-exempt nonprofit organizations like the Meteoritical Society to establish procedures to safeguard against improper conflict of interest transactions. A conflict of interest may occur when personal interests prevent an individual from making an impartial decision that is in the best interest of the charitable organization. The purpose of this document is to ensure that Society members avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest resulting from their activities as members of the Council or committees of the Society. In particular, no person should obtain or appear to obtain special advantages for themselves, their relatives, their employer, or their close associates as a result of their services on the Council or Society committees. The responsibility for identifying possible conflicts of interest lies with both members of the Council in their oversight capacity and with the members of the Society’s committees. 

Examples of activities in which conflicts of interest may arise include the following:

1)    Nomination and selection of grant and award recipients
2)    Nomination and selection of the Editor of Meteoritics and Planetary Science and the Editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
3)    Evaluation of information about new meteorites submitted to the nomenclature committee
4)    Selection of vendors and letting of contracts for the annual meeting and other society activities

Detailed procedures for avoiding conflicts of interest in these activities are outlined below. 

1. Awards and grants

    Officers of the society and councilors are not eligible to be candidates for any award that is made by the Council or for election as fellows during their terms of service. Members of committees that select nominees for particular awards are not eligible to be candidates for those awards during their terms of service.

    Immediate family members and partners of nominees for an award are precluded from membership of that award committee during any year that the family member or partner is under consideration for the award. Members of the Leonard Medal committee are precluded from discussions of immediate family members and partners who are candidates for fellows.

    Council members who are immediate family members or partners of nominees for a grant or award cannot participate in discussions of an award to that nominee.

    With certain exceptions specified in the Society’s bylaws and committee rules (Service Award, Leonard Medal), a member of the Council or an award committee cannot nominate candidates for that award during his/her term of office. However, Council and committee members may help in updating nominations made prior to membership on the council or the award committee.

Certain professional relationships should be disclosed by award committee or council members prior to the consideration of nominees for awards:

1.1)    A committee or Council member is the supervisor or supervisee of a nominee
1.2)    A committee or Council member has been the research collaborator of or a co-author with the nominee within the last three years
1.3)    A committee or Council member works at the same institution as the nominee. 

    None of the professional relationships listed above necessarily disqualifies a committee member.  Where such relationships exist, the committee chair will determine whether the conflict is of significant magnitude to require the member to refrain from voting, from participating in the discussion of that nominee, or to withdraw entirely from the selection procedure. The committee’s report to the council should identify such instances.  If the committee chair has a possible conflict, the decision should be referred to the president of the Society or his/her designee.

    Where such professional relationships exist for a Council member, the Society president or his/her designee will determine whether the conflict is of sufficient magnitude to require the Council member to refrain from voting or from participating in the discussion of that nominee, or to withdraw entirely from the selection procedure.  The President will report such instances to the Council. 

Special rules

    The following special rules apply and in cases of ambiguity take precedence over the rules above.

    Members of the Audit committee cannot be affiliated with the institution of any Treasurer who served during the relevant fiscal year.

    Members of the Endowment committee cannot participate in the discussion of requests for funds for projects in which they are involved.

    A student who is advised by a member of the Pellas-Ryder committee is not eligible for this award. In addition, members of this committee should excuse themselves from all discussion of a paper submitted for this award if they are coauthors of that paper or any other paper by the nominee or are from the same institution.

2. Nomination and Selection of Editors

Editor of Meteoritics and Planetary Science (M&PS)

    The Editor of M&PS is nominated by the Publications Committee and selected by the Council.

Rules for members of the Publications Committee

    Members of the Publications Committee are not eligible for consideration for the position of Editor. 

    Members of the Publications Committee may not participate in the discussion of a candidate if the candidate is

2.1)  an immediate family member or partner
2.2)  the supervisor or supervisee of a the member
2.3)  employed at the same institution as the member. 
 
Rules for members of the Council

   Members of the Council are eligible for consideration for the position of Editor but must recuse themselves from any discussion related to the selection process.  Should an officer or councilor be nominated and selected and accept the position, he/she must resign from the Council.

        Members of the Publications Committee may not participate in the discussion of a candidate if the candidate is

2.1)  an immediate family member or partner
2.2)  the supervisor or supervisee of a the member
2.3)  employed at the same institution as the member. 

Editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (GCA)

    The Editor of GCA is nominated by the Joint Publications Committee whose members are appointed jointly with the Geochemical Society.  Committee members are bound by the same rules that apply to members of the Publications Committee in relation to the selection of an Editor for M&PS.

3. Rules for members of the Nomenclature Committee

   No member of the Nomenclature Committee should obtain or appear to obtain special advantages for themselves, their relatives, their employer or their close associates as a result of their services on the Committee. Possible conflicts of interest arise when Committee members have a financial, professional, or personal interest in a submitted meteorite or work at the same institution as a person who played a significant role in preparing a submission.

   The Meteoritical Bulletin Editor shall make an initial evaluation of possible conflicts of interest and decide whether the conflict is of sufficient magnitude to require the member to refrain from voting, from participating in the discussion of that meteorite, or should be entirely excluded from reviewing and assessing the information about the submitted meteorite. Members who subsequently identify possible conflicts of interest shall notify the Chair. The Chair shall have the final authority to rule on possible conflicts and their appropriate resolution. If the Chair has a possible conflict of interest, the Meteoritical Bulletin Editor will have this authority. If the Meteoritical Bulletin Editor has a possible conflict of interest, the Chair or the Meteoritical Bulletin Database Editor shall act in his/her stead and assume all editorial duties for the vote on that meteorite.
 
   Members who are excluded from voting shall not count toward the establishment of a quorum or majority.

4. Rules for the selection of vendors and letting of contracts

    The Society through members of the Council and its various committees selects vendors for goods and services, among them casting and engraving the Leonard medal, website maintenance, the publication of Meteoritics and Planetary Science, and the hosting arrangements for annual meetings.

    No member of the Council or a committee of the Society should obtain or appear to obtain special advantages for themselves, their relatives, their employer or their close associates as a result of his/her participation in selecting a vendor of services.

    Possible conflicts of interest arise when Council or committee members have a financial, professional, or personal interest in the vendor of goods or services to be purchased.

    A member of the Council or committee, respectively, has an obligation to disclose a possible conflict of interest to the President or committee chair.  If the conflict is judged significant, then the member may not participate in any discussion or vote related to the selection process.