New Conflicts Disclosure System Streamlines, Integrates Required Disclosures

A person browses the MyDisclosures website.After updating the University’s Conflict of Interest (COI) Policy for Research in 2018, Pitt is now piloting a streamlined and simplified online system for reporting conflict of interest disclosures. 

MyDisclosures, the University’s new system for online reporting and review of conflicts, will be introduced on a pilot basis in early March as a first step toward replacing a paper-based system. 

“The policy update was a success of shared governance and resulted in a policy that was easier to read, more flexible, and allowed for a broader range of managed conflicts,” said Rob A. Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research. Once the policy was updated, the disclosures system needed to be updated as well, he said. Rutenbar added that that recent changes could now require some faculty and staff who have not previously completed COI disclosures to do so.

A streamlined, integrated—and compliant—way to report 

The new platform is easier to understand and use, and conforms with Pitt’s COI-related policies as well as federal funding requirements. In addition to questions about outside financial interests, MyDisclosures includes questions about time commitments to outside organizations. Historically, these commitments were most often identified and discussed informally. The new system creates a standardized and streamlined process for reporting such commitments.

MyDisclosures follows the recommendations of an advisory committee on conflict of interest disclosure that included a cross-section of faculty and administrators from across the University, in close partnership with UPMC. Committee guidance and input from additional faculty and staff during test demonstrations aided in developing a system that offers a variety of benefits, including:

  • Web-based Form: Paperless system automatically routes to your supervisor for review, comment and approval.
  • Customized Questions: System directs user to only those questions appropriate to an individual’s role and activities.
  • Single Integrated System: Pitt and UPMC disclosure needs are integrated, providing “one-stop entry” for faculty with dual employment.
  • Improved Help Facilities: Users will find a variety of help tools: Pop-up informational boxes embedded in the form; Help Desk team; and online FAQs.

What’s next: a pilot launch

In cooperation with Senior Vice Chancellor and Provost Ann E. CuddMyDisclosures is being introduced this term on a pilot basis, allowing the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research and the COI advisory committee to gain additional input. Deans and regional campus presidents determined participation by their school or campus. For those whose school or campus is not participating in the pilot, the current paper-based disclosure form will remain in use for this year. Those in the pilot will receive an email from MyDisclosures in early March that directs them to the online tool.

“Transparently managing disclosures around potential conflicts—of interest, of commitment and financial—helps everyone at Pitt maintain their academic freedoms, and we look forward to making it easier and more convenient to fulfill these requirements,” said Rutenbar. 

While MyDisclosures is easy to navigate, you may have questions about the system, why you’re being asked to report, what information you’re required to disclose and how it will be used. Pitt Research has compiled frequently asked questions addressing the online system for reporting conflict of interest disclosures that is piloting this term.