Principles for Public-Private Partnership
These are general guidelines for the interactions of CERTs with private organizations.1
Issues of Public Interest
The CERTs program is a national initiative to foster the optimal use of therapeutics through research and education activities that are in the public interest but are not likely to otherwise be done.
CERTs is a public-private partnership program on two levels:
- Between HHS and the CERTs centers.
- Between CERTs centers as representatives of the government-sponsored CERTs program and other research sponsoring organizations.
In the latter relationship, the CERTs centers seek useful, appropriate interactions with private organizations to support and enhance education, research, and demonstration projects on terms that will not compromise the scientific integrity of the work or the public perception of the integrity of the work. The Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Committee2 and AHRQ work with the centers to establish appropriate partnership agreements to optimize the use and sharing of commercial and research resources.
Conflicts of Interest
For purposes of the CERTs program, conflicts of interest refers to circumstances that might cause a researcher/team to be influenced or biased in the conduct of a particular project or in framing of the results. Conflicts of interest can diminish public respect for a project's scientific findings, reduce reliance on the results and interfere with its accomplishing its public health objectives. An inadequately addressed conflict of interest of one CERT can impact the work and reputation of all CERTs and the CERTs program. Public-private partnerships may present the potential for conflicts of interest, i.e., there is the concern that findings might be skewed in a manner that would benefit or curry favor with the private sponsor(s).
While these potential conflicts cannot be completely avoided or eliminated, CERTs researchers have an obligation to disclose fully all potential conflicts of interest and to manage conflicts in a manner that minimizes the risk of those conflicts (e.g., seeking to obtain support from competitors), while at the same time permitting as much progress as possible to be made in achieving CERTs goals within the constraints of maintaining respected research activity.
As academic researchers, individuals conducting projects under the CERTs umbrella must have final decision making authority about study design, analysis, conclusions, and publication under the terms of any partnership agreement with other supporting organizations, and ensure that their work complies with their respective institutions' conflict of interest rules.
CERTs Core Activities
CERTs core activities are defined as projects supported in whole or in part by AHRQ funds under the CERTs cooperative demonstration program. Such activities are subject to processes established for the CERTs program such as the review of potential conflicts of interest by the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Committee, and the provision of suggestions for reducing the risks of potential conflicts of interest.
The PPP Committee is a subcommittee of the CERTs Steering Committee made up of representatives from the CERTs centers, government, and the private sector. Individuals affiliated with the centers also conduct education and research activities outside of CERTs that are not subject to CERTs processes.
1 Organizations that are not government agencies and departments are private organizations.
2 The PPP Committee is responsible for reviewing potential CERTs core projects involving public-private partnerships to ensure they conform to the PPP principles and avoid or appropriately manage conflicts of interest.