The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. For more than 90 years, Brookings has analyzed current and emerging issues and produced new ideas that matter—for the nation and the world.
For policymakers and the media, Brookings scholars provide the highest quality research, policy recommendations, and analysis on the full range of public policy issues.
Research at the Brookings Institution is conducted to inform the public debate, not advance a political agenda. Our scholars are drawn from the United States and abroad—with experience in government and academia—and hold diverse points of view. Brookings's goal is to provide high-quality analysis and recommendations for decision-makers in the U.S. and abroad on the full range of challenges facing an increasingly interdependent world.
Today, Brookings is financed largely by an endowment and through the support of philanthropic foundations, corporations, and private individuals. The Institution's funds are devoted to carrying out its research and educational activities. Brookings also undertakes a small amount of unclassified government contract studies, reserving the right to publish its findings from them.
Brookings scholars regularly provide reporters with commentary, analysis, and background information; appear on television and radio programs; testify before Congress; and brief policy-makers and their staff on important issues of the day.
The titles of Senior Fellow and Fellow refer to permanent Brookings staff members in the Economic Studies, Foreign Policy Studies, Global Economy and Development, Governance Studies, and Metropolitan Policy programs. Some scholars are designated as Visiting Fellows, particularly those who are spending a limited period in residence to work on a Brookings project, or Guest Scholars, who work independently. The views of staff and guests of Brookings are their own and should not be attributed to the Brookings Institution, its trustees, or its officers.
A Board of Trustees is responsible for the general supervision of Brookings, approval of its areas of investigation, and for safeguarding the independence of its work.
The Institution's president is its chief executive officer, responsible for formulating and setting policies, recommending projects, approving publications, and selecting staff.
Policy Statement on Nonpartisan, Independent Research
The independence, professional integrity and objectivity of Brookings research are among the Institution's principal assets. These qualities can be ensured by maintaining the highest standards with regard to the public statements and activities of Brookings staff, as well as to the policies and practices governing acceptance of funds from outside organizations or governments. The following policies guide the Institution in its avoidance of conflict of interest and other problems.
Nonpartisanship. To protect the Brookings Institution’s commitment to nonpartisanship, staff members will observe the following policy with regard to political activities. In keeping with the Institution’s mission, they may provide analysis and recommendations on matters of public policy on a nonpartisan, non-exclusive basis to public officials and candidates for public office. However, if staff members advise candidates, political campaigns, or political organizations, such as political action committees or party campaign committees, in any private circumstance that constitutes or connotes exclusive support, they must do so in a personal capacity, outside regular business hours. They must make clear that they are acting as individuals and not on behalf of Brookings. They must refrain from representing or counseling candidates at public events or media appearances, and they should not use their Brookings affiliation in any public communications with, or on behalf of, a campaign or candidate. Staff members must request leave without pay if they wish to serve as a surrogate or counsel candidates at public events or media appearances, or if their political activities interfere with, or take time away from, their Brookings obligations.
No one may use Brookings’s resources, including support staff time, email accounts, computers and phones, or Brookings premises for political activity.
Members of the Steering Committee will not affiliate with any campaign, provide exclusive advice to any candidate, even outside official hours, or make personal endorsements of candidates.
Brookings staff must notify their Vice President, the General Counsel, the Chief of Staff and the Vice President of Communications before affiliating on an exclusive basis (with or without a leave without pay ) for or with a political campaign, candidate for public office, or political organization.
Outside Activities and Employment
A conflict of interest exists when an individual has an external economic or political interest, or commits significant amounts of time to outside consulting or other interests to an extent that affects, or provides an incentive to affect, the individual's performance of his or her Brookings activities. Conflicts of interest can arise naturally from an individual's engagement with the world outside the Institution, and the mere existence of a conflict of interest does not necessarily imply wrongdoing on anyone's part. Both actual conflicts and the appearance of conflicts are harmful to the Institution and the individual involved. Disclosure and consultation continue to be the best means for avoiding conflicts of interest. Conflict of interest situations are often complex and judgments may differ on whether a conflict in fact exists. Therefore, the goal of a policy of disclosure and consultation is to prevent a researcher from inadvertently placing himself or herself in a position of conflict.
Commitment Conflicts. Outside employment, consulting, and other interests must not negatively impact a staff member's commitment to the work of Brookings. In addition, staff may not engage in outside activities that directly compete with the core mission of the Institution or are in conflict with their Brookings responsibilities, regardless of the time they require, unless approved by the President. For example, a scholar should not perform public policy research for another public policy research organization without approval from the President. This does not proscribe any scholar from writing opinion pieces or columns, presenting speeches on the scholar's research subject (or other subjects), or serving on the board of other research organizations.
A staff member who holds a position of responsibility with an external business should make clear to the organization that the obligations, in terms of both time and responsibility, of the staff member to the external organization are limited by and subject to the policies of the Brookings Institution. Such a notification should also include a statement that the external organization should not be construed to have any formal or informal relationship with Brookings simply because of the affiliation of the staff member with Brookings. In addition, when publishing, testifying or otherwise communicating outside of Brookings, a staff member must indicate to the intended audience that the views expressed are those of the staff member and do not necessarily reflect the views of other staff members, officers or trustees of the Institution.
Financial Conflicts. A conflict of interest may exist if a staff member owns significant stock or equity in a commercial enterprise and that person's research or other professional duties are closely related to the activity of the enterprise. If a researcher has significant stock or other equity interest in a commercial corporation or does outside consulting for the company, it may not be permissible for the Institution to receive funding from that organization for research conducted by that individual for Brookings (no self-dealing). For non-research staff, it may be appropriate to recuse oneself from Brookings financial decisions involving the external commercial enterprise in which the employee owns stock or equity or has a consulting relationship. Staff members who enter into external consulting or other agreements must take care that these are not in conflict with the obligations under any sponsored grant or contract, or any other policies of the Institution.
Disclosure. To monitor for conflicts of interest and provide guidance with regard to specific activities, the Institution requires scholars and officers to file an annual disclosure statement of their outside interests, insofar as they are related to their research or administrative responsibilities. Such statements will be completed as part of the annual performance appraisal process and shall be kept confidential, and shared only with those with a need to know.
Review Committee. In keeping with the collegiality of the Brookings environment, a Review Committee shall be established, consisting of the President, the Director of each research program, the Vice President for Finance and Administration and the At Large Member of the Planning Committee. Any questions that arise should be discussed first with one's supervisor. If necessary, they may be referred to the Review Committee, which shall determine whether an apparent or actual conflict of interest exists, and, if so, by what means the conflict should be avoided or managed.
Sponsored Research. Any arrangement between the Institution and an organization or government that funds research projects is considered sponsored research. These arrangements must not:
- Inhibit free dissemination of results of scholarly activity and research.
Acceptance of confidential background information must not be permitted to affect the ability of investigators to openly publish all the results of sponsored research. Researchers may agree not to include confidential background information in publications so long as such omissions do not affect the overall scope of the research.
- Stipulate any predetermined result or policy stance, either personally or institutionally.
Any questions about the propriety of restrictions or parameters placed on research by corporate, foundation or government sponsors should be referred to the Review Committee.
(June 25, 2003)
 Significant financial interest can be defined as $5,000 in annual income or 5% of equity ownership. However, especially in connection with equity, the appearance of conflict could arise even at a lower figure.
Policy Statement on Integrity of Research
The Brookings Institution is committed to independent, nonpartisan research and publication, and to maintaining the highest level of integrity in pursuit of this mission.
If anyone has reason to believe that plagiarism or other misconduct has occurred, he/she should report the incident to the president of the Institution. The president will decide whether the complaint warrants an investigation. If the president so decides, he will conduct an investigation within 30 days, or appoint a committee to conduct the investigation on his behalf within that timeframe. As part of the investigation, the scholar accused of misconduct will have the right to review the allegations and respond. If no evidence of plagiarism or misconduct is found, the president will respond accordingly to the person making the initial charge. If there is evidence supporting the allegation of misconduct, the president will appoint a committee to investigate the allegations more fully. The results of this investigation will be communicated to the complainant in a timely fashion. The Institution will ensure that there is no retaliation against a complainant who, in good faith, makes allegations of misconduct.
(June 25, 2003)