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Freelance Writing Opportunity & Outside Employment


A friend of mine is a free-lance writer in another state. She has asked me
if I would be able to write magazine articles on atmospheric science topics
and accept pay for the articles. It occurred to me that this might be
considered a conflict of interest. I read the UCAR policy and it is not
clear to me if this would be a conflict of interest or not. I do not plan
to use NCAR resources for this but, obviously, knowledge obtained at NCAR
would be used. I would do 100% of the work on my own time.

Answered on January 31, 2008


Thanks for asking this important question. It is possible to write magazine
articles and accept pay for the effort under certain conditions, summarized

All employees need to be aware of potential conflicts of interest.
Conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such, may compromise UCAR’s
integrity, its standing with its sponsors, and its status as a tax-exempt
organization. They must, therefore, be scrupulously avoided.

UCAR has two policies that pertain to your question. One is on conflict of
interest and the other deals with outside employment.

The Outside Employment Policy applies since you are being paid for the
work. You would need to have the outside employment approved if it takes
place during periods when you would normally be expected to be available to
UCAR, uses expertise derived from UCAR work, may appear to be a conflict of
interest, or is within the scope of UCAR’s work. In all cases employees
engaged in outside employment may not use UCAR facilities, resources,
property, telephones, equipment, or staff in support of such activities,
nor may those activities be conducted on UCAR premises.

Without knowing all of the facts involved, it is difficult to answer your
question. Overall, if you use general knowledge, you are probably okay;
but, on the other hand, if it involves details of something that is
proprietary to NCAR or may be patented, there could be a conflict of interest.

The appropriate action is to discuss this with your supervisor and, if
necessary, have this activity approved in advance and in writing by your
laboratory director. That way you will be in full compliance with both

Bob Roesch, Director, Human Resources