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Frequently Asked Ethics and Compliance Questions
Ethics & Training FAQs
How do I access RU Learning?
How do I access RU Learning?
You can access via your desktop or mobile device:
How do I begin my required training?
Check out the To-do List section of your app (see image below) and select the training you wish to complete.
When I log on, my screen is blank.
You may need to clear your cache and cookies via the following steps:
- Navigate to the Lock icon on your browser near the web address at the top of the screen.
- Navigate to “cookies”
- Select “app.learnermobile.com” and click “Remove”
- Select “learnermobile.com” and click “Remove”
- Click Done
- Close the tab
- type app.learnermobile.com in the address field
- Try to login again
- If this doesn't work for you please reach out to email@example.com
How do I register for the RU Learning Training?
Individuals who require training are automatically added to the system. If you require training and you are unable to login please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
When is the Training Due?
HIPAA Basics and Best Practices is due June 30th for all individuals who interact with protected health information. However, your school or unit may set an earlier due date. New hires are required to complete the training within thirty days.
Where do I find the certificate after completing the Training?
You can view your completed trainings on the achievements page by clicking on the crown in the top right corner of your profile page.
Who should I contact for further information about the Training?
Please contact email@example.com
Gifts from Vendors
What is the rule on personal gifts from vendors?
The New Jersey State Ethics Commission has interpreted the State Conflicts of Interest Law that any personal gift from a current or prospective vendor to public employees is inappropriate. Minor exceptions are discussed below.
What about snacks and meals at a meeting at a vendor location for university business?
Snacks, coffee, juice, and similar items are allowed. Accepting meals from a vendor is not permissible under the rules established by the Ethics Commission. However, it is all right if the university pays for the meals or if the employee reimburses the vendor for the meal. If there is an important approved occasion which university employees are attending as part of their job, then the university will make arrangements to reimburse the vendor for the cost of the meals.
Can university employees receive meals from vendors when attending free vendor training on complex systems, which is usually an all-day event with meals served?
The State Ethics Commission will not allow public employees to accept meals from vendors under any circumstances. If attendance at the training event is deemed valuable to the skills of university employees, then the university will pay the vendor for the cost of the meals.
I attend conferences for which Rutgers has paid an attendance fee. I know that some of the meals are subsidized by vendors. Is it all right to accept those meals at the conference?
Yes. The meals are included in the conference fee.
At a conference, am I able to accept "give aways" from vendors?
Certainly you can accept anything that might be evaluated for possible university use as vendors often give samples of their products away for these purposes. You may accept items of truly nominal value, such as give-away pens, hats, and cups. On the other hand, you will not want to use vendor-branded items at work as it could convey a bias and closer association with the vendor than is the case. Here you are expected to use your best judgment.
Can I attend special vendor events at a conference at which food and liquor are generally served without charge? These are largely networking events for the sales staff of the vendor?
No. This is essentially socializing with vendors with the vendor paying for the food and drink. Remember, vendor staff are sales people. Vendors are interested in selling their products, so the purpose of any vendor event is to create a favorable impression in order to have an employee buy their product. Your attendance at such an event creates an appearance of impropriety. The State Ethics Commission regularly underscores this as a significant potential minefield for creating problems of bias in public-sector procurement. Even when a public employee is not actually biased when participating in a subsequent decision respecting a vendor, there is still the problem of these events creating an appearance of impropriety including receiving a personal benefit on account of one's public employment.
Can I accept holiday gifts from vendors?
No. Vendors will be advised by email that these gifts are inappropriate and that vendors should make their best efforts to inform their staff that gifts to Rutgers employees are inappropriate. This notice will become part of all purchase orders and will be on the procurement website which should curtail offers of holiday (or other) gifts.
What should I do if I receive a gift from a vendor?
If you receive a gift from a vendor, immediately contact the ethics office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 743-3344. The gift will either be returned by the ethics office or donated to a charitable organization identified by the University. The ethics office will instruct on the proper method for disposing of the gift and send a letter to the vendor.
Can vendors give gifts to the university?
Yes. Vendors often support the university with gifts of equipment or make financial gifts, but individual employees should not be the beneficiaries of these gifts. See the University Donor Gift Policy 40.2.13 (PDF).
Outside Activity Questionnaire
Does this apply to me if I’m a student/part-time employee/adjunct/etc.?
The OAQ is required for anyone receiving compensation (in any capacity) from the University including but not limited to all full-time faculty and staff, part-time faculty and staff, and individuals receiving a stipend.
Why does the University want this information?
In addition to being a requirement under the New Jersey Conflict of Interest Law, Rutgers requires you to complete the OAQ to ensure the integrity and reputation of the University and to help our faculty and staff avoid potential conflicts of interest. The OAQ is also designed to allow a supervisor or department chair to identify overlap with duties and responsibilities or conflicts with employee time. The eCOI+ disclosure is a requirement for all staff requesting a Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA). Also know that Rutgers will never ask for your personal political or religious affiliations as part of the OAQ.
Is the OAQ a public record?
The OAQ is NOT A PUBLIC RECORD; it is part of your personnel record.
Where can I find the form?
Go to https://ecoi.rutgers.edu and login with your NetID in the top right corner.
I’m logged in, but I can’t find the form I completed before. What do I do?
To begin, click on the "Create My Certification" option on the left. The information entered here will be retained for all future disclosure certifications.
What is secondary employment?
Secondary employment is any compensated activity that you perform in addition to your University employment. Examples: per diem; consulting; part-time; family business.
Past employment is not considered secondary employment; there is no need to list former employers.
Do I need to disclose Volunteer Activity or other unpaid activities?
If you are in a leadership position with a volunteer/non-profit organization, please disclose that affiliation. Examples: Executive Board Member; Appointed to a Board or Commission; Treasurer for a charitable organization, etc. even if the organization has no affiliation with the University.
Can I have my assistant fill out my OAQ for me?
No. The OAQ is personal to each individual and requires your individual NetID and login information.
I have several consulting jobs, do I have to list them all separately?
You may fill out the form including a general description of your outside activities and approximately how much time you spend on these activities on a weekly basis.
I’m a supervisor/department head/chair, and I don’t feel comfortable approving this form, what should I do?
We ask supervisors/department heads to review the forms for “operational concerns.” Because you work with these individuals on an everyday basis, we rely on you to let us know if someone’s outside activity may interfere with or create the perception that it may interfere with the employee’s job duties. For example, an outside job may conflict with an employee’s regular hours at the University. The Ethics Office will then complete a more thorough review for potential conflicts of interest. If you have concerns you may also log a private comment or email us at email@example.com
Who must fill out a form for outside employment and when should it be submitted?
All employees of the University (faculty and staff) must fill out an Outside Activity Questionnaire on eCOI+ (https://ecoi.rutgers.edu) regardless of whether or not they have outside employment to report.
What is an “outside activity”?
“Outside activities” include any part-time employment, any self-employment, or any other compensated activity in addition to your University duties. “Outside activities” are also leadership positions in non-compensated positions, such as President or Treasurer of a non-profit organization.
If I am a regular salaried faculty member, do I include payments from external parties for scholarly presentations in the “outside activities questionnaire” and then again in the “scholarly capacity” section?
No. No single activity should be reported in both sections.
University Policy 60.5.8 provides clarity on this issue: “Not included in ‘outside employment’ is compensation for published or creative works in one’s field or honoraria for commissioned papers and occasional lectures.” Accordingly, if payments from external parties should be reported on the “scholarly capacity” form then they should not be reported on the outside employment form.
What is the time period covered by outside activity questionnaire?
Under University policy, disclosure of outside activities should occur prior to engaging in the activity. If there is a change to your outside activity, you may request to edit your form at any time.
Where should the outside activity questionnaire be filed?
The outside activity questionnaire is submitted online through eCOI+
What if I am a regular salaried faculty or staff member, but I have no outside employment? Am I still required to login and complete the questionnaire?
Yes. If employees have no outside employment, they just indicate on the form that they have no outside employment.
What if I do have outside employment to report?
If you do have outside employment to report, then you should identify the employer or business, describe the nature of the outside activities undertaken, and indicate the time involved.
What if I have an outside business but the business operates at a loss. Should I report this?
Yes, self-employment or ownership and operation of a for-profit business should be reported regardless of profit or loss.
Do I report all income?
No. Not all income is the result of employment. For example, you would not list income from royalty distributions under the patent policy, payments from Social Security, child support, alimony, or payments received from the government for being a foster parent. The primary concern is income reported on your tax returns from another employer or company for whom you do consulting work.
I do my consulting and outside activities through a Limited Liability Corporation formed for that purpose. Do I report these activities on the outside activities questionnaire?
Can I run for elective office?
Yes. Information is provided in University Policy 60.1.14 Employment of Current and Former Public Officials. However if you hold elective office then you must assure that those duties do not take so much time that you cannot perform your Rutgers duties. Moreover, if your position at Rutgers and your elective office involve interaction between Rutgers and that public body, then you should not participate in those interactions.
Is it possible that my political and ideological views could be construed as a conflict by the university?
No. This is a First Amendment issue. The university respects the rights of all faculty and staff to express themselves on matters of public importance. University employees, however, should take care not to give the impression they are speaking on behalf of the university. See University Policy 50.3.4 Electoral Political Activities and the Use of University Resources for more information.
As a regular salaried full-time faculty member, do I need approval to teach a course for an outside employer?
Yes. Faculty may on occasion teach courses or parts of courses at other institutions. (This is to be distinguished from more typical individual scholarly presentations, honorific lectures, seminars and the like.)
Teaching a course at another institution may serve the interests of a Rutgers program by extending the influence of the faculty member and his or her program at Rutgers. However, teaching a course for another academic institution should not be undertaken if it does not serve the interests of the unit to which the faculty member belongs. For example, the ability of Rutgers to attract students to a university program might be undercut in some circumstances if a faculty member were to conduct significant teaching at a competing institution. Teaching at another institution could pose an ethical difficulty particularly if the faculty member were to also have a reduced teaching load at Rutgers. Accordingly, prior to accepting outside employment to teach a course at another institution, the faculty member must be certain that the assignment meets the interests of Rutgers, and must obtain the approval of the faculty member’s chair and dean.
Privacy FAQs (HIPAA, FERPA, GDPR, etc.)
What is a Business Associate Agreement?
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly referred to as FERPA or the Buckley amendment, is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s educational record. FERPA applies to all educational agencies or institutions that receive federal funding for any program administered by the Secretary of Education. FERPA also applies to private entities that contract to perform services for the University that it would otherwise undertake to perform on its own; in such cases, the private entity must observe the same FERPA protections applicable to the University. FERPA grants adult students (18 and older) the following rights:
- The right to inspect and review their educational records
- The right to seek the amendment of their educational records
- The right to consent to the disclosure of their educational records
- The right to obtain a copy of their school’s Student Records Policy
- The right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington, D.C.
- With only a few exceptions, student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
- Faculty or staff members have a responsibility to protect educational records in your possession.
- Faculty or staff members may only access information that is needed for legitimate completion of your responsibilities as a university employee.
What is an Education Record?
“Education Records” include any information or data recorded in any medium, including but not limited to, handwriting, print, tapes, film, e-mail, microfilm, and microfiche, which is directly related to a student and maintained by the University or by a person acting for the University.
Examples of an Education Record include, but are not limited to:
- Admissions information for students who are accepted and enrolled
- Biographical information including date and place of birth, gender, nationality, information about race and ethnicity, and identification photographs
- Grades, test scores, evaluations, courses taken, academic specialization and activities, and official communications regarding a student’s status
- Course work including papers and exams, class schedules, as well as written, email or recorded communications that are part of the academic process
- Disciplinary records
- Students’ financial and financial aid records
- Internship program records
What is NOT an Educational Record?
Education records do not include:
- Rutgers University law enforcement records
- Employment records when the employment is not connected to student status (e.g., a staff member who happens to be pursuing a degree at the institution, as opposed to a student employed under the work-study program)
- Medical and mental health records used only for treatment of the student
- Alumni records which do not relate to or contain information about the person as a student (e.g., information collected by the University pertaining to alumni accomplishments)
- “Sole possession records” The term “sole possession records” is intended to cover memory aids or reference tools. It does not refer to records that contain information provided directly by a student or records that are used to make decisions about a student. As such, this is a very limited exception. For example, personal notes from a committee meeting recommending students for a particular program would not be considered sole possession records if they are used to make decisions about the students
What is the GDPR?
 The European Economic Area (EEA) includes EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway.
Why does this affect me in the United States?
If I am an EEA citizen but live in the US, will the GDPR apply to my personal data?
The GDPR will only apply to personal data collected from about you from EEA sources (e.g. data collected about you in the EEA and transmitted to the US would be covered by the GDPR); data collected about you that originates from United States sources is generally not subject to the GDPR, though US privacy laws would apply where applicable.
I am a US Citizen and I will be in EEA (e.g. study abroad, business travel, research, etc.) will GDPR apply to me?
Yes. Any personal data collected about you while you are in the EEA will be subject to the GDPR, both in the EEA and also in the US if that data is transmitted to the US.
What Rutgers-related data does the GDPR protect?
- Permanently residing in the EEA, including EEA students taking on-line classes;
- Temporarily located in the EEA and accessing RU services, including services relating to employment, academic studies and research; or,
- EEA data subjects whose data Rutgers collects as part of a research project.
 For more information on personal data under the GDPR, see: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/what-is-personal-data/what-is-personal-data/.
What should I be doing to address the new GDPR requirements?
You do not need to do anything immediately. We are implementing prioritized GDPR requirements and developing recommendations for a sustainable GDPR compliance program. As the Task Force makes progress on the compliance plan, we will update the university’s GDPR web presence and share GDPR compliance resources with the University community as they become available. If you believe you have an immediate GDPR issue to be addressed or have additional questions, please contact Rutgers University Ethics and Compliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthcare Compliance FAQs
What is the False Claims Act?
The Federal False Claims Act, as amended by the FERA, establishes liability for, among other things:
- knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval (removing the requirement that the claim be presented to an officer or employee of the Government);
- knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
- conspiring to commit a violation of the Federal False Claims Act; and
- knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.
What are the Anti-Kick Back Laws?
What are the Stark Laws?
- Prohibits a physician from referring Medicare patients for designated health services to an entity with which the physician (or immediate family member) has a financial relationship, unless an exception applies
- Prohibits the designated health services entity from submitting claims to Medicare for those services resulting from a prohibited referral
Physician Financial Transparency Reports: CMS Sunshine Act/Open Payments?
Open Payments is a federal program, required by the Affordable Care Act, that collects information about the payments drug and device companies make to physicians and teaching hospitals for things like travel, research, gifts, speaking fees, and meals. It also includes ownership interests that physicians or their immediate family members have in these companies. This data is then made available to the public each year on this website. Learn more about Open Payments.
What is the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE)?
OIG’s List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE) provides information to the health care industry, patients and the public regarding individuals and entities currently excluded from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and all other Federal health care programs. Individuals and entities who have been reinstated are removed from the LEIE.
I have a question about billing for clinical trials or other clinical research. To whom to I talk to at Rutgers University?
Contact Ms. Cathy Florek, Senior Compliance Officer, Research, at email@example.com.
What compliance training am I required to take? How is it different from Human Subjects Training and Ethics/Code of Conduct training?
Compliance training requirements are based off job roles.
A person showed up at my desk and stated they are here from an outside organization to perform an audit, what should I do?
Ask the person for their ID. Show them to a quiet room, and let them know someone will be with them shortly. Call your manager and contact the local Compliance Officer
Someone from a Medicare contractor review vendor walked in and said they wanted to talk to one of my doctors about his documentation. Should I let that person see the doctor?
No. Call your manager, the Compliance Officer and the Office of General Counsel so that they may talk to the representative to ascertain the purpose of the visit.
What should a Provider or Department do if a letter is received from CMS, or any other government entity, requesting copies of medical records for a review or audit?
It is important to promptly and accurately act upon correspondence from governmental entities. If a Provider or Department employee receives this type of correspondence, it should be presented promptly to the Department Manager for reporting and forwarding your unit’s compliance officer.
Examples of government entities include:
- CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
- RAC (Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor)
- Novitas (the Medicare Administrative Contractor or MAC)
- New Jersey Medicaid (NJ Dept of Human Services)
Title IX FAQs
I’m not sure if what happened to me was a crime. What should I do?
Sexual and relationship violence occurs on a spectrum, and we understand that what occurred may have you uncertain if it violated university policy. We encourage students to reach out if you are questioning a situation that was potentially misconduct.
What if I was using alcohol/drugs during the assault?
Is there a time limit for reporting an incident?
How can I best preserve evidence from my assault?
What happens if someone else reports my assault?
The victim is not required to participate in any resulting investigation or disciplinary process and the Title IX Coordinator will assess any requests to keep the identity confidential or not to commence an investigation.
If you are a third party thinking about reporting someone else’s assault, we encourage you to consult the survivor and get their permission before making a report on their behalf.