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FAQs: Disclosures of Affiliation

Understand the meaning of Affiliation as defined by the IEEE Standards Board Bylaws, 5.2.1.5.


What is the difference between an employer and affiliation?
An affiliation, as defined in the IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws, 5.2.1.5, is an individual deemed "affiliated" with an individual or entity that has been, or will be, financially or materially supporting that individual's participation in a particular IEEE standards activity. This includes, but is not limited to, his or her employer and any individual or entity that has or will have, either directly or indirectly, requested, paid for, or otherwise sponsored his or her participation.

An employer is typically the entity that would be reporting an individual as an employee for tax purposes.

If you are consulting or contracted with another entity, your employer and affiliation will typically be different [e.g., your employer, self-employed, or your consulting firm name as the employer; the client(s) as the affiliation].

Do not assume that the IEEE-SA will conclude your affiliation is the same as your employer. You must declare any affiliation even if it is the same as your employer.(Back to top)

Why am I being asked to record my affiliation? How will this benefit me?
Standards development meetings are open to all interested parties and are not to be dominated by any particular entity or interest category. The disclosure of affiliation allows all participants the information necessary to assure these principles are adhered to. The requirement applies to both individual and entity-based standards development projects. It is consistent with the IEEE Code of Ethics requirement to disclose conflicts of interest.

Industry participants and users of the standard will benefit from an open and transparent development process. The disclosure of this information adds to openness and transparency.(Back to top)

When and how should I disclose my affiliation?
You should disclose your information only when asked as part of the IEEE-SA standards development process. It will be required at various points within the process.

When joining a technical activity area in myProject, you will be asked to declare your affiliation. At an in-person meeting, it will typically be included in the meeting attendance sign-in, but on a teleconference meeting may be done verbally. When joining a Sponsor ballot group, you will also be asked about affiliation.(Back to top)

How will this information be used and will it be shared outside of the IEEE-SA?
Employer and affiliation of participants will be included in the minutes of a standards development meeting. Because minutes are to be available to all participants, the declarations are considered public information.

All standards development group employer and affiliation declarations will be considered if there is an appearance of dominance in the standards development project or governance body. (Back to top)

What if I refuse to disclose my affiliation?
As outlined in IEEE-SA governance documents, you will lose certain rights. In a working group where voting rights are gained through attendance, no attendance credit will be granted if affiliation is not declared. Similarly, voting rights are to be removed if affiliation isn't declared.(Back to top)

What if I represent more than one affiliate or multiple companies are funding my participation?
If they are financially or materially supporting your participation you should declare all of them. A small number of entities are more likely to be influencing your positions. With a large number of entities, with none explicitly or implicitly influencing your positions through financial or other incentives, it is less likely that your positions would be influenced by the relationship. The person disclosing has to honestly judge if their positions are "materially supported" and if so, declare it.(Back to top)

I consult for multiple companies but none pay for my time or expenses to attend standards development meetings. Am I affiliated with those companies?
If they are influencing what positions you take on issues (e.g., continued work is probably dependent on taking an agreeable position), then you are materially supported by that affiliate. (Back to top)

I'm employed, but my employer isn't funding my participation. What should I record for affiliation?
It is recognized that some IEEE-SA participants may participate on their own time on standards development projects (e.g., Sponsor ballot participation). In this case, it may be factually accurate to list your employer but for affiliation indicate that you represent yourself or are self-funded on that particular IEEE-SA activity. A participant is encouraged to check with their employer or legal advisor that this participation is consistent with any employee agreement to which they are subject.(Back to top)

If am I retired do I need to list an affiliation?
If you are not financially or materially supported by another person or entity (e.g., you participate as a volunteer for the good of the industry), you could declare employer as self employed and affiliation as the same.(Back to top)

If I am being funded by a subsidiary do I need to disclose its parent affiliation?
If parent entities are not obvious and are material to the standards development activity, certainly you may disclose them. This is one area that is likely to be pursued in the event there is ever an investigation of domination of a standards development activity.(Back to top)

If the parent affiliate is not financially supporting participation are they still considered my parent affiliate?
In the event of an investigation on possible domination, this information may be required, independent of financial support of your activity.(Back to top)

What is the Sponsor's responsibility related to affiliation declarations in a Sponsor ballot group? Is there any exception for publishing declared affiliations in the minutes?
The rules regarding Sponsor ballot groups are detailed in the IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws, 5.2.2.3.

There are no exceptions defined regarding minutes. If though, a participant makes a declaration that is obscene, defamatory to an individual or group or otherwise through publication would be likely to be injurious to IEEE, the issue of publishing the declaration should be escalated to the Sponsor.(Back to top)

What is the Chair's responsibility for validating declarations of affiliation? What if I believe another participant has made a false declaration of affiliation?
It is not the Chair's responsibility to question a participant's declaration of affiliation. A faithful and complete declaration of affiliation by participants is required by the rules of IEEE-SA and expected under the IEEE Code of Ethics.

Any participant, including an officer of a standards development group who believes that a participant's disclosure is materially incomplete or incorrect should report that fact to the Secretary of the IEEE-SA Standards Board and the appropriate Sponsor(s).

If it is determined that a person has made a false or misleading declaration of affiliation, their participation privileges may be suspended or revoked. This may be limited to the particular project or may, if warranted, cover all IEEE-SA activities. Similarly, if warranted, penalties may extend to the participant's employer and/or any person or entity that is considered an affiliate. (Back to top)