Persons involved in the application and assessment processes must ideally have no conflicts of interest which will adversely affect, or appear to adversely affect, the impartiality of the application and assessment processes. This includes expert assessment panel members, reviewers and Theme Leaders. Members of the expert assessment panel and Theme Leaders will be required to sign a conflict of interest form. Reviewers will be asked to ensure that they only agree to review a project if they do not have a conflict of interest.
It is acknowledged that the pool of expert assessment panel members with the necessary expertise and experience is not large, therefore there is a potential for a conflict of interest to arise from time to time. These conflicts will be dealt with through the measures outlined below.
Conflict of interest register
The SP&C section will maintain a register of all actual, perceived and potential conflicts of interest reported during the application and assessment processes. The SP&C section will be responsible for ensuring that the relevant people involved in providing input to the assessment process sign (or agree to, in the case of online reviewers) a conflict of interest form before assessing and offering comments or views.
Expert assessment panel business procedures
When undertaking expert assessment panel business, the Secretariat/Chair of the panel will remind members and advisors of their responsibilities to avoid potential conflicts of interest. In meetings, there will be a formal agenda item to this effect.
It is up to individuals to bring any conflict of interest to the attention of the Secretariat/Chair. Usually, that person will be expected to withdraw from discussions or assessment consideration of that proposal and any similar proposals. However, there may be instances where the Secretariat/Chair considers the conflict of interest can be resolved in another manner. This may require seeking independent probity advice. All declared conflicts of interest and the actions taken to resolve them must be clearly recorded in the conflict of interest register and in the appropriate meeting minutes.
All AAD staff carrying out departmental business including but not limited to members of departmental committees/expert panels, readers, expert assessors or reviewers, must:
- observe the APS values and code of conduct in practice
- act with integrity, objectivity, openness and honesty
- be accountable for their decisions and actions
- be subject to an appropriate level of scrutiny
- provide assurances to the Department that they will abide by the Department’s confidentiality requirements
- disclose any conflicts of interest related to their official duties.