Ethics & Independence

Stimson values transparency, which is why the Board of Directors makes our guidelines and policies on independence and integrity available to the public. The integrity and independence of Stimson scholars and their research are fundamental to providing independent, pragmatic, and honest analysis and solutions. Therefore, Stimson does not represent any outside interests. Our Staff works with a broad array of stakeholders in U.S. and foreign governments, and in the public and private sectors. Stimson does not take institutional positions or engage in political activity. We may periodically update these guidelines and policies for compliance reasons, but we nevertheless hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and integrity. 

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Ethics Framework

Code of Ethics

The Stimson Center requires full compliance of all its employees and affiliates with all state and federal laws and adherence to high ethical standards and integrity to promote an ethical work environment and positive reputation of the Center. Failure to comply with the Code of Ethics is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Role of Governance in Ensuring Ethical Behavior

Stimson is governed by an independent Board of Directors that serves as the arbiter of our ethics and compliance. The Board of Directors is responsible for reviewing and approving the organization’s mission and strategic direction, annual budget and key financial transactions, compensation practices, and fiscal and governance policies. The full Board meets three times each year, with intermittent committee meetings throughout the year.

Maintaining Financial Integrity

The Stimson Center has established policies and procedures for adequate staff training, management, and internal controls to ensure it adheres to the highest legal and ethical standards with regard to its financial management and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Our internal control policies and procedures are designed to prevent and detect error and fraud. The policies and procedures are documented and reviewed regularly to ensure their effectiveness.

Stimson maintains a set of accounting policies and procedures to ensure timely, accurate, and reliable financial reporting. Stimson records its transactions and presents its financial statements in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). In addition, Stimson’s financial statements are audited annually by an independent external auditor who reports its findings directly to the Audit and Finance Committees of the Board of Directors.

Policies to Safeguard Independence

The Stimson Center is a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank funded by research contracts, grants, and donations. Our funders are vital to sustaining the excellent, independent, and meaningful work of our experts. The individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies that contribute to Stimson provide those vital financial resources to support our wide range of research projects and allow us to continue our pursuit of pragmatic solutions to global security challenges. We believe that our greatest value to funders is the innovative high quality and independent research we produce. Scholars should do their work with neither fear nor favor toward Stimson funders. To further ensure academic independence, Stimson will not accept gifts from donors who seek to undermine the independence of its scholars’ research or otherwise to predetermine or influence recommendations.

Funding Policy

The Stimson Center seeks funding from charitable foundations, governments, multilateral organizations, corporations and individuals to support the Center’s research projects. However, to ensure that such funding does not inhibit its effectiveness, final acceptance of such support is approved in accordance with the Center’s mission and the principle of academic independence, including full authority over its research projects and other organizational decisions. The Stimson Center does not accept offers of financial support that explicitly or implicitly compromise the Center’s full authority over institutional decisions or restricts scholars from promoting their research findings and recommendations.

Stimson recognizes that as a research institution trying to educate government officials, the media, and the public at large on foreign policy issues, it has a responsibility to ensure that none of its work contains a conflict or bias by providing full transparency to the public. On an annual basis, Stimson provides a complete list of donors and funders for the most recent completed fiscal year. This list of donors and funders is published yearly.

Representing Stimson’s Independence to Donors in Contracts and Agreements:

Stimson both solicits financial support and receives offers of support from individual donors. While the Center engages its donors through a range of stewardship activities, donors do not have a role in shaping Stimson scholars’ research analyses or dictating their recommendations. Stimson also ensures that donors understand Stimson’s stance on lobbying and representation as a 501 (c)(3) and nonpartisan nonprofit, which is detailed more in a later section.

Policies to Ensure Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

To promote high standards of professionalism and academic integrity and to maintain the quality of Stimson’s publications, all employees and affiliates are expected to adhere to the Center’s publication review standards and protocols regarding plagiarism and fabrication/falsification of information. Failure to comply with those standards and engaging in academic misconduct may result in disciplinary action and/or termination.

In addition, Stimson has an independent publication review process. All of the Stimson Center’s products are reviewed by internal and/or external experts for plagiarism and accuracy of information prior to publication.

Viewpoint Independence

While the Stimson Center’s work is driven by our mission and vision, the Stimson Center does not take specific policy positions. The policy views, positions, recommendations, and conclusions expressed by our scholars and employees should be understood as theirs rather than the institution’s. Stimson scholars are not required to adhere to specific institutional policy views and may well take positions which disagree with each other. We believe the open and transparent exchange of views, within the bounds of academic integrity and professional comity, is beneficial to all involved.

Conflict of Interest

The Stimson Center monitors, manages, and minimizes all actual or perceived conflicts of interest in its substantive work and business practices. Stimson employees and affiliates are obligated to avoid and disclose ethical, legal, financial, or other potential conflicts of interest involving the Center.

Potential conflicts of interest include, but are not limited to: using Stimson’s position, relationships, or contacts to promote personal interests, or in a manner that may lead to financial or other benefits, or opportunity to influence the Center’s work/material for personal advantage.

To ensure that they are performing their employment responsibilities in the best interests of the Center, employees are required to inform their supervisor and the Director of Finance and Administration or the President, in writing, of all outside activities and commitments that may trigger a conflict or may be perceived as a conflict.

Lobbying and Other Legislative & Political Activities

The Stimson Center’s nonpartisanship and 501(c)(3) charitable tax status forbids the organization from taking an institutional position for or against a political candidate or participating in any campaign for elected public office. The Center does not engage in lobbying activities beyond those, which may be permitted under its charitable status. Allowable lobbying activities may only be conducted with the expressed, written approval and full knowledge of the Center’s president. Allowable and authorized lobbying activities will be closely monitored by the Center’s president to ensure such activities do not jeopardize the Center’s operating status or community standing.

Employees and affiliates, or other sources performing work on behalf of the Stimson Center may elect to engage in political or legislative activities on her/his own cognizance, but only when not performing work for, or under the auspices of, the Stimson Center.

Employees or other sources performing work on behalf of the Stimson Center must publicly express that she/he is engaging in such activities as an individual citizen and not on behalf of the Stimson Center.

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