Outside Professional Activities: Request Prior Approval

Outside Professional Activities:
Request Prior Approval

The University recognizes that engaging in outside professional activities provides opportunities for professional development, transfer of knowledge and student learning, research and career development. While such activities may make faculty better scholars and teachers, participation in outside activities has the potential for diversion from primary activities and responsibilities to the University. As such, the amount of time permitted for outside professional work is limited to eight hours per week on average.

All faculty and PI eligible staff must request prior approval for outside activities through UTRMS-COI. This will ensure outside activities do not conflict with University obligations or policies and allows ORSC to implement strategies for managing conflicts of commitment when necessary. Instructions for submitting an outside activity pre-approval request in UTRMS-COI are provided here.

All other UT staff see Outside Employment.

Activities requiring prior approval include:

  • Outside consulting or other outside employment related to professional area of expertise
  • Outside academic appointments such as visiting, honorary, adjunct and affiliate positions
  • Board / executive leadership positions
  • Educational services such as presenting or creating educational material for continuing education
  • Expert witness / legal consulting
  • Participation in a proposed or awarded sponsored research not managed by the Office of Sponsored Projects

Some activities are considered pre-approved and integral to the University’s mission. This document provides further guidance for faculty and PI-eligible staff involved in outside professional activities:

Guidelines for Prior Approval and Disclosures of Outside Activities and Financial Interests (PDF)

The COI office reviews prior approval requests and coordinates with departmental supervisors as needed to manage situations that may compromise an employee’s ability to appropriately fulfill institutional responsibilities.

Consulting Agreements

Consulting and other outside employment is considered a private activity. Consultants should have an agreement in place that clearly defines the technical scope, intellectual property commitments and financial terms of the activity. This is a personal agreement between the consultant and the outside entity. The University of Texas is not a party to any such agreement.

Consulting agreements may include terms and conditions that conflict with University obligations and policies, which could create problems for future research and employment obligations. It is the consultant’s responsibility to ensure the agreement is consistent with University employment obligations and university policy. Review the UT Consulting Agreement Guide to identify common contact terms to be aware of.

UT provides an optional Consulting Agreement Addendum, which is designed to protect University employees from entering contracts that may jeopardize their ability to fulfill their obligations to the University. Individuals who choose not to use the addendum are encouraged to review the Consulting Agreement Guide to avoid entering into an agreement that is at odds with University policies. For investigators involved in startups or SBIR/STTR proposals, see the SBIR-STTR Faculty and PI Participation Guidance (PDF).

The COI team can assess whether a consulting agreement is consistent with University obligations. Email contracts to COI@austin.utexas.edu.

Any other questions about consulting contracts should be directed to a personal attorney for legal advice.

FAQ About Outside Professional Activities

How much time am I able to commit to outside consulting or other activities?

HOP 5-2011 limits faculty and professional staff to eight hours per week or 32 hours per month of outside activities while employed full time by the University. Prior approval from the Office of Research Support and Compliance COI program is required before committing to outside activities. Request prior approval in the UTRMS-COI system.

What disclosures do I need to complete before entering into an outside employment agreement?

Prior approval from the University’s COI program is required before committing to outside activities. Request prior approval in UTRMS-COI.

What common contractual clauses could conflict with University policies?

  • Expected time commitment
  • Intellectual property
  • Authorship affiliation
  • Use of University resources
  • Requirement for confidentiality / secrecy

Refer to the Consulting Agreement Guide for details.

Do I need an attorney to negotiate an outside employment contract?

Consulting agreements are generally very negotiable. You should carefully review the agreement and consult with your own attorney as needed, particularly related to issues such as tax implications, stock or equity ownership, and non-compete clauses. When you are consulting, you are not considered a University of Texas employee for such services. The University will not indemnify you or provide legal defense for any reason related to your outside employment.