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Academic Affairs Policies
UMB Policy and Procedures Concerning Research Misconduct
Academic Affairs | Approved August 1, 2015
Replaces III.1.10 Misconduct in Scholarly work; September 1991; June 1997; December 1998
A. Integrity in research is the responsibility of the entire academic community. All members of the university community--students, staff, faculty, and administrators--share responsibility for developing and maintaining standards to assure honesty, accuracy and objectivity in science and other scholarly work and detection of abuse of these standards. Misconduct in carrying out academic activities undermines the integrity of the educational system and the scientific enterprise, and erodes the public trust in the university community to conduct research and communicate results using the highest standards and ethical practices. The responsibility to prevent and detect misconduct, however, must be assumed without creating an atmosphere that discourages the openness and creativity which are vital to scholarship and the research enterprise.
B. Institutions that apply for or receive federal funds for research are required by law to share responsibility for the integrity of the research process (e.g., Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct, 42 CFR Part 93). The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) voluntarily applies the common federal standards for integrity in research to all UMB research regardless of funding. Both UMB and its personnel have a duty to ensure the integrity of research and research training by assuming primary responsibility for responding to allegations of Research Misconduct.
It is the policy of UMB:
A. To maintain high standards of honesty, accuracy and objectivity in science and other scholarly work, to prevent Research Misconduct where possible, and to evaluate and to resolve promptly and fairly instances of alleged or apparent Research Misconduct.
B. To take appropriate remedial and disciplinary action in response to findings of Research Misconduct, which may include termination of enrollment or employment of an individual found responsible for Research Misconduct.
C. To award no degree if Research Misconduct in science or other scholarly work contributed to that degree, and, when warranted, to revoke such a degree if Research Misconduct is discovered after its award.
III. PRINCIPLES GOVERNING THE PROCESS FOR ALLEGATIONS OF RESEARCH MISCONDUCT
A. UMB must undertake examination of any allegation of Research Misconduct according to these Procedures.
B. The Respondent will be granted due process during all stages. Specifically, the Respondent:
1. Will be notified in writing of the specific allegation being considered under these Procedures;
2. Will be informed of the persons appointed to perform an Inquiry or Investigation, and will have a reasonable opportunity to object based on conflict of interest;
3. Will be given reasonable time to respond to the allegations at the Inquiry stage and to prepare a defense to the allegations at the Investigation stage;
4. Will be permitted an opportunity to participate in the Inquiry and Investigation proceedings as outlined herein;
5. Will be given access to documents, reports, witness statements, and other evidence upon which the Investigation into allegations of Research Misconduct is based;
6. May consult with personal advisors and legal counsel at the Respondent’s own expense;
7. Will receive a decision based exclusively on the evidence presented; and
8. Will receive a written statement of the decision and of the reasons for the decision, including the evidence relied upon for the decision.
C. If, at any stage of the procedures, there is cause to believe that there is an immediate health or safety threat, there is a need to protect federal funds or equipment or individuals affected by the inquiry, or, there is reasonable indication of possible criminal violations, interim administrative action may be taken by the Vice President of Academic Affairs. In the case of federal funding, UMB will notify the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) within 24 hours of taking interim action.
D. All persons will keep the nature of the allegations and information about the examination of the allegations confidential.
E. Conflict of interest and the appearance of conflict of interest will be avoided.
F. Neither the Responsible Official nor the Dean of an affected School may advocate for, or counsel the Complainant or the Respondent in the matter under examination.
G. Relevant facts ascertained at each stage of these procedures will be documented in detail, and any material evidence gathered will be retained as part of the Inquiry or Investigation record. It is a violation of this Policy for any person to destroy, remove from UMB, or suppress any information in any format that is or may be relevant to the subject of allegations of Research Misconduct.
H. Allegations will be pursued within the scope of this Policy without regard to related civil or criminal proceedings to the extent feasible.
I. If a Respondent leaves or has left UMB before the examination of the allegations is concluded, the examination will be pursued to its conclusion.
IV. REPORTING MISCONDUCT
A. Allegations should be reported to the Vice President of Academic Affairs (the Responsible Official). If the Complainant believes that the Responsible Official has a conflict of interest, the allegations may be reported to the President, UMB.
B. Frivolous, mischievous or malicious misrepresentation in alleging Research Misconduct to UMB or other persons or entities violates this policy and will be subject to sanctions under these Procedures.
C. Anonymous allegations are not encouraged and may impede UMB’s ability to examine and resolve the allegations. Confidentiality will be provided to the extent feasible but anonymity of a Complainant or any person participating in Research Misconduct procedures should not ordinarily be expected.
D. If allegations under this Policy involve Respondents or Complainants associated with other campuses, Centers or Institutes in the University System of Maryland, the Responsible Official will meet with a corresponding official of the other unit and agree upon a division of responsibility for administering Research Misconduct procedures.
E. If more than one Complainant has brought allegations relating to the same subject matter or similar underlying facts and circumstances, the Responsible Official may decide that the allegations will be the subject of a combined examination.
F. A prospective Complainant who is unsure if a suspected incident falls within the definition of Research Misconduct should contact the Responsible Official or the Responsible Official’s designee to discuss the matter informally. If the circumstances described do not fall within the scope of this policy, the individual will receive appropriate direction.
G. UMB prohibits retaliation against anyone who files a complaint of Research Misconduct (a Complainant), anyone who is accused of Research Misconduct (a Respondent), anyone to whom a complaint of Research Misconduct is filed, or anyone who participates in Research Misconduct procedures
V. INTAKE AND PRELIMINARY REVIEW
The first steps of the process begin as follows:
A. The Responsible Official (RO) or the RO’s designee will perform an intake review of the allegation.
B. The RO will acknowledge to the Complainant receipt of the allegation, including a copy of this policy or link to the policy URL.
C. The RO or the RO’s designee and the Complainant will meet to review this policy and the allegation. The Complainant will be advised of the seriousness of the proceedings and the possible consequences for inappropriate allegations.
D. If it is not apparent following the intake review if the allegation is an allegation of Research Misconduct subject to this policy, the RO or designee may conduct a Preliminary Review. The sole purpose of the Preliminary Review is to determine if the allegation meets the requirements for examination under this policy. The RO or designee may consult in confidence with persons who can provide relevant advice and may interview the Respondent (if identified in the allegation) as part of the Preliminary Review.
E. When the RO determines the allegation has been made in good faith and it meets the definition of Research Misconduct, the RO proceeds to the Inquiry.
F. If the RO determines the allegation has not been made in good faith is not subject to this policy, or if it is duplicative of other allegations made and examined, or there is another reason not to proceed under this policy, the RO will document the determination and the reasons, close out the allegation, and inform the Complainant (and the Respondent, if appropriate).
G. The RO should determine the disposition of the allegation no later than thirty (30) calendar days after the allegation has been received by the Responsible Official.
The purpose of the Inquiry is solely to review the allegation and perform preliminary information gathering as necessary to decide if the allegation warrants an Investigation. An Inquiry does not require full review of all the evidence. The decision to proceed from any Inquiry to an Investigation is not a determination of wrongdoing and establishes no presumption of fault.
B. Inquiry Committee
The Responsible Official (RO) appoints the Inquiry Committee within thirty (30) calendar days of the decision to proceed with an Inquiry. The Inquiry Committee will consist of three (3) faculty members, with one appointed by the RO as chair. At the discretion of the RO, non-UMB faculty may be appointed to the Committee. Members of the Inquiry Committee should not have any appointment in the department of either the Complainant or the Respondent. Inquiry Committee members should have appropriate expertise for evaluating the information relevant to the case. In addition, Inquiry Committee members should have no material conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest. The Respondent (and Complainant, if known) will be informed of the proposed membership of the Inquiry Committee for the purpose of identifying in advance any conflict of interest issues. The Responsible Official will resolve any conflicts.
C. Sequestration of Evidence
Upon deciding to proceed with an Inquiry, the Responsible Official will gather and sequester all original data and other original records relevant to the issues on or before the date which the Respondent is notified or the Inquiry begins, whichever is earlier. It is the responsibility of the Complainant, the Respondent, and others holding relevant materials to provide them upon request. Upon request, the Respondent will be provided copies of, or reasonably supervised access to, the sequestered records.
D. Notice to Respondent
After sequestration of all data and records, the Responsible Official will issue an inquiry notice to the Respondent, in writing including:
1. Brief statement of allegation;
2. Copy or link to the URL of this policy, calling attention to the Respondent's due process rights under this policy;
3. Composition of the Inquiry panel appointed by the Responsible Official with the Respondent’s deadline to object to any member on the basis of conflict of interest;
4. The decision to proceed with an Inquiry is not a determination of wrongdoing and establishes no presumption of fault; and
5. Notice of confidentiality, obligation to cooperate, and warning regarding no retaliation.
E. Inquiry Committee Process
1. The Inquiry Committee must complete its work within sixty (60) calendar days after being charged by the Responsible Official, unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. If this deadline cannot be met, the reasons for an extension must be well-documented and filed with the Responsible Official.
2. The Inquiry Committee will attempt to interview the Complainant and the Respondent separately. Cooperation of the Respondent (beyond production of relevant materials and data) is voluntary.
3. The Inquiry Committee has authority to collect and review all necessary information. When information, expert opinions, records, and other pertinent data are needed, the Inquiry Committee will obtain this evidence from or through the Responsible Official. The Inquiry Committee may also call meetings with individuals whom they believe are able to provide information pertinent to the charge. Any person participating in the Research Misconduct process is free to consult a personal advisor or legal counsel, at the individual’s own expense. Advisors and legal counsel do not participate in meetings with the Inquiry Committee.
4. The Respondent will have timely access to all documents reviewed by the Inquiry Committee. Research records, including copies of all documents and related communications, will be considered confidential and shall be kept secure by the Responsible Official. These records will be shared only with those who need to know.
5. The conclusions of the Inquiry Committee will be conveyed to the Responsible Official in a written report summarizing: evidence reviewed, relevant interviews, and setting forth the Committee’s decision as to whether or not there is a sufficient basis to warrant an Investigation. If an Investigation is not warranted, the Inquiry Committee may make other recommendations deemed appropriate concerning the disposition of the case.
6. The Respondent will be given a copy of the Inquiry Committee report by the Responsible Official and has fifteen (15) calendar days from the date the Responsible Official transmits the report for comment. The Respondent’s comments are made part of the record. The Complainant will be notified in writing by the RO or designee of the Inquiry Committee’s decision.
7. If the Responsible Official plans to terminate the Inquiry without completing all relevant requirements, the RO will document in a report the reasons for such termination. If the reason for terminating the process is based on a Respondent’s admission or a proposal to settle the case, and if the research at issue is subject to PHS oversight, the RO’s report will be forwarded to HHS Office of Research Integrity.
8. The Responsible Official will share the findings of the Inquiry Committee with the Dean of the affected School and, in consultation with the Dean, determine within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving the Respondent’s comments to the Inquiry Committee's report whether to proceed with an Investigation. That decision will be based upon all the circumstances including the decision of the Inquiry Committee and the Respondent’s comments. The decision to proceed to an Investigation is not a determination of fault and establishes no presumptions of fault.
9. If the Inquiry Committee concludes there is insufficient basis for the allegations to warrant an Investigation:
a. the Responsible Official should indicate whether the allegations appear to have been made in good faith and, if not, if it appears that investigation of the Complainant is warranted.
b. If necessary, UMB will undertake diligent efforts as appropriate to restore the reputations of persons harmed or prejudiced by an allegation not made in good faith.
c. If the Inquiry Committee recommends alternative action(s), or the Responsible Official determines alternative actions are advisable, such actions may be taken or directed by the Responsible Official.
d. UMB will undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations of Research Misconduct.
At the close of an Inquiry, all materials provided to the Inquiry Committee by the Responsible Official and other parties and all records of the Inquiry Committee will be delivered to the Responsible Official for safekeeping and disposition in accordance with this policy.
A. Mandatory Reporting
When the Responsible Official determines an Investigation is warranted, the Responsible Official initiates an Investigation and notifies the appropriate state and federal government agencies as required by law. If PHS funds are involved, the RO will send the findings and a copy of the Inquiry report to HHS Office of Research Integrity within thirty (30) days of the finding. . The Respondent (and the Complainant, if applicable) will be notified, in writing, of the Investigation.
B. Investigation Committee
The Responsible Official will appoint an Investigation Committee with three (3) members within thirty (30) calendar days after the determination that an Investigation should be undertaken. The Investigation Committee will be composed of faculty or faculty emeritus, who have the appropriate expertise for evaluating the information relevant to the allegations. At the discretion of the RO, non-UMB faculty may be appointed to the Committee. Members of the Investigation Committee will not have any appointment in the department of either the Complainant or the Respondent. The Responsible Official will name one member of the Investigation Committee as its chair.
The RO will require that members of the Investigation Committee disclose any material conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest. The RO will disqualify from the Committee any person with actual or apparent conflict of interest. The Respondent (and the Complainant, if known) will be informed of the proposed membership of the Investigation Committee for the purpose of identifying in advance any conflict of interest issues. The Responsible Official will resolve any conflicts.
The purpose of the Investigation is to explore the allegations further, to determine whether the Committee finds that the evidence supports the allegations, and to determine the extent of any Research Misconduct. In addition to evaluating the allegations, the Investigation Committee will recommend to the Responsible Official appropriate remedial action and sanctions.
C. Investigation Committee Process
1. Investigation Committee meetings and hearings are confidential and are closed. All relevant documents will be provided to the Respondent by the Responsible Official. All interviews requested by the Committee will be recorded. Copies of the recordings will be made available to the Respondent or members of the Committee upon request. An Investigation will be completed within one hundred twenty (120) calendar days of the charge to the Investigation Committee.
2. The Responsible Official will provide to the Investigation Committee all information gathered during the Inquiry. The Investigation normally will include examination of all documentation including, but not necessarily limited to, relevant research data and proposals, publications, and correspondence. The Investigation Committee has the authority to hold hearings and to collect and consider all of the evidence relevant to the allegations.
3. In the course of an Investigation, additional information may emerge that may justify broadening the scope of the Investigation beyond the initial allegations. Should this occur, the individuals affected will be informed in writing of significant new directions in the Investigation.
4. All members of the UMB community are obliged to cooperate in a timely fashion by producing any additional data requested for the Investigation. Original materials obtained by the Committee will be stored securely along with other materials collected by the Responsible Official.
5. The Respondent will have the opportunity to address the charges and evidence in detail, both in writing and at a hearing before the Investigation Committee. The Respondent may present evidence. The Respondent is free to seek the assistance of legal counsel at Respondent’s own expense. Legal counsel may accompany the Respondent when meeting with or being heard by the Responsible Official or Investigation Committee. Legal counsel may not speak for the Respondent and attends solely as an observer.
6. The Responsible Official may consider extending the deadline of 120 calendar days if a request is received from the Investigation Committee. The Investigation Committee must indicate to the Responsible Official why an extension is necessary and an estimated date of completion of the report and other necessary steps. An extension request will also be submitted to ORI, if HHS funds are involved. Such a request to ORI will include an explanation for the delay and an estimated date of completion.
7. Any consideration of a request for an extension must balance the need for a thorough and rigorous examination of the facts against the interests of the subject(s) of the Investigation, UMB and research sponsors in a timely resolution of the matter. Extensions should be for good cause, and should not be granted for unreasonable lengths of time. If a request for extension is granted, the Responsible Official must document in writing the reasons for the extension and must include the new deadline.
8. After all evidence has been received and hearings completed, the Investigation Committee will meet in closed sessions to deliberate and prepare its findings and recommendations. In its deliberations, the Investigation Committee will apply the preponderance of evidence standard to the evidence it considers.
9. If UMB plans to terminate any Investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements and PHS funds are involved, a report of such planned termination including a description of the reasons for such termination, will be made to HHS Office of Research Integrity.
D. Investigation Report
1. Upon completion of the Investigation, the Investigation Committee will submit to the Responsible Official a full report which details the Committee's findings and recommendations.
2. The Investigation Committee will address each allegation individually, including at least the following information:
a. A description of the allegation and whether or not Research Misconduct was found by a Preponderance of the Evidence;
b. The category of Research Misconduct, if found (fabrication, falsification, plagiarism);
c. A description of the evidence that supports the Investigation Committee’s finding of Research Misconduct or another statement such as, the evidence was inconclusive, insufficient, or exonerating;
d. The recommendations shall specify actions/sanctions appropriate for the seriousness of the findings. These recommendations may address actions to restore damaged reputations, if necessary, and will identify specific retractions, disclaimers and announcements necessary to clarify the record;
e. If Research Misconduct is not found, the Committee will indicate whether or not the allegations appear to have been made in good faith and, if not, whether the bringing of the allegations appears to be misconduct warranting sanction by the Institution.
3. The Responsible Official will send the Investigation Committee's report to the Respondent. The Respondent will be allowed thirty (30) calendar days to comment in writing upon the Investigation Committee's report. The Complainant will be notified in writing of the RO’s final decision.
4. At the conclusion of the Investigation Committee's work, all materials and records of the Inquiry and Investigation Committees will be delivered to the Responsible Official for safekeeping and disposition in accordance with this Policy.
VIII. RESOLUTION OF ALL ALLEGATIONS OF RESEARCH MISCONDUCT
Thirty (30) calendar days after receiving the Respondent’s comments on the Investigating Committee's report or sixty (60) days following the day the report is sent by the RO to the Respondent for comment, whichever is earlier, the Responsible Official will share the Investigation Committee’s report and the Respondent’s comments (if any) with the Dean of the affected School. The RO, in consultation with the Dean of the affected School, may consult in confidence with others as appropriate, and with legal counsel. The RO, in consultation with the Dean, will make the final decisions regarding sanctions and remedial actions within thirty (30) calendar days. This deadline may be extended by the President for an additional thirty (30) calendar days for good cause.
The RO will prepare a final report describing the policies and procedures under which the Investigation was conducted, how and from whom information was obtained relevant to the Investigation, the findings and the basis for the findings, and the actual text or a summary of the input of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions to be imposed. The RO’s final report will be submitted to HHS Office of Research Integrity if the Research Misconduct is subject to PHS funding.
When there has been a finding of Research Misconduct, the Responsible Official will notify the Respondent of the decisions regarding sanctions and remediation made by the Responsible Official in consultation with the Dean of the affected School following a determination of Research Misconduct. At this time, the Respondent will be informed of the appeals process, as described in section XI below. If sanctions involve a recommendation for termination of employment, the policies of the University System of Maryland and UMB concerning termination of academic appointments or other employment will apply as appropriate.
A. No Finding of Research Misconduct
All research sponsors and others initially informed by the Responsible Official of the Investigation should be informed in writing by the RO that allegations of Research Misconduct were not supported.
Consideration will be given as to what actions may be needed to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in Research Misconduct when allegations are not confirmed. In publicizing the finding of no Research Misconduct, the Responsible Official, in consultation with the Dean of the affected School, will be guided by whether public announcements will be harmful or beneficial in restoring any reputation(s) that may have been damaged. Usually, such a decision will rest with the person who was wrongly accused. Consideration also will be given as to what efforts are required to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, made allegations, whether or not those allegations were confirmed.
If the allegations, however incorrect, are deemed by the Responsible Official to have been made in good faith, no disciplinary measures shall be taken against the Complainant and efforts will be made to prevent retaliatory actions.
If the Investigation Committee reports to the RO that allegations appear not to have been made in good faith and, the bringing of the allegations appears to be misconduct warranting sanction by the Institution, the Responsible Official, in consultation with the Dean of the affected School, will decide on appropriate procedures for disciplinary actions. Such action by the Complainant may constitute an allegation of Research Misconduct on the Complainant’s part.
B. Finding of Research Misconduct
When there is a finding of Research Misconduct, the Responsible Official, in consultation with the Dean of the affected School, will determine the sanctions that will be imposed and the nature of those sanctions. The Responsible Official in cooperation of the Dean will implement those sanctions, which will be appropriate for the seriousness of the Research Misconduct, and may include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
Removal from a particular project or projects;
Special monitoring of future work;
Letter of reprimand;
Probation for a specified period of time and note conditions to be met;
Suspension of rights and responsibilities for a specified period of time;
Termination of employment or other actions affecting employment or faculty appointment (if formal termination proceedings are instituted, such proceedings must be in accordance with System and Institution termination policies and procedures);
Any other disciplinary and remedial actions as appropriate.
In addition to imposing appropriate sanctions, UMB shall take steps to ensure the scientific record is corrected, by means appropriate under the circumstances, which may include :
Formal notification of sponsoring agencies, funding sources, co-authors, co-investigators, collaborators, department, campus and university publications, editors of journals in which relevant research was published;
Published retractions and disassociation with published papers;
Formal withdrawal of pending applications for research support.
Disciplinary steps will be taken in compliance with applicable USM and UMB policies.
The Respondent may appeal to the President of UMB the findings of Research Misconduct by the Investigation Committee and the sanctions imposed by the Responsible Official in consultation with the Dean. A written statement of the grounds for the appeal must be submitted to the President within fifteen (15) calendar days following the date of the notice of the decision from the Responsible Official. The Respondent may appeal on the basis of: 1) failure of due process, or 2) availability of new evidence which could not reasonably have been presented during the original investigation.
The President, in confidential consultation with Deans, VPs and other administrators will consider the appeal and issue a final determination or other appropriate action. The President’s decision will be reported to the Responsible Official and the Respondent in a timely fashion and will be completed in sixty (60) calendar days of its receipt.
X. RECORDS OF PROCEEDINGS
Records relating to proceedings under this policy shall be maintained in a secure manner for seven (7) years after the final conclusion of proceedings. Upon request, records may be provided to authorized federal agencies as permitted by law. Records of proceedings under this policy will be maintained by the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and kept confidential to the extent permitted by applicable law. Upon conclusion of the record retention period, and with approval of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, original research data may be returned to the investigator(s) from whom materials were obtained.
A. Research – A systematic experiment, study, evaluation, demonstration, or survey designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge (basic research) or specific knowledge (applied research).
B. Research Misconduct Definition
1. This policy applies to Research Misconduct. Research Misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
(a) Fabrication means making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
(b) Falsification means manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
(c) Plagiarism means the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
2. Research Misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
3. Requirements for making a finding of Research Misconduct:
(a) There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and
(b) The misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and
(c) The allegation be proven by a Preponderance of the Evidence.
C. Other Definitions
1. Allegation - A disclosure of possible Research Misconduct through any means of communication. The disclosure may be by written or oral statement or other communication to an institutional official.
2. Complainant - A person who makes an allegation of Research Misconduct.
3. Respondent - A person against whom an allegation of Research Misconduct is directed or who is the subject of a Research Misconduct proceeding.
4. Preponderance of the Evidence – Standard of proof in which a proposition is more likely than not to be true. The standard is satisfied if fact-finders conclude there is more than 50 percent likelihood that a proposition is true.
5. Responsible Official (RO) - The academic administrator designated by the UMB President to assume responsibility for implementing this policy. The Responsible Official normally will be the UMB Vice President of Academic Affairs or the Vice President's designee.
6. Dean - The dean of a UMB professional School.
Scope and Exceptions
This policy applies to research activity, research training, applications and proposals, and related activity containing a research component, performed at UMB by any person, including faculty, staff, students, visitors and others; or performed with the use of UMB resources; or performed elsewhere, by a person acting under the auspices of UMB. This policy does not supersede policies and procedures addressing issues specifically governed by individual Schools, such as honor code violations, or other UMB policies such as authorship disputes, allegations of fiscal impropriety, conflict of interest, and unethical conduct of research involving human or animal subjects. If an allegation of research misconduct involves only a student and the research is not sponsored, the Dean of the affected School will decide whether the School’s procedures or this policy will be used.
All other instances of research misconduct, whether the research is sponsored or not, will follow these policies and procedures.