By Craig Chamberlain After more than an hour of debate and five minor amendments in language, the Urbana-Champaign Senate voted its approval Monday of a new university policy on conflicts of commitment and interest. The new policy, most of it drawn from an interim policy in effect since 1988, would bring the UI into compliance with new federal guidelines that went into effect Oct. 1. Approval is still required from the UIC senate, and then from the University Senates Conference, which will need to work out any differences between the two senates' versions. According to Harriett Weatherford, associate vice chancellor for research, action on the policy is necessary to meet guidelines approved last year by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The university has to bring itself into compliance in order to receive research funding from these two federal agencies, and from other agencies likely to follow suit. But the UI had relatively little work to do in this area because "we were ahead of the curve," Weatherford said. "In 1988, when they drafted the interim policy, they did a very good job." The university has been operating under that interim policy since then, and with Monday's vote, she said, "the actual policy really hasn't changed." With the announcement of the new federal guidelines last fall, the University Senates Conference established a subcommittee to review the university's interim policy. The subcommittee presented its update of the policy to the senates on both campuses last spring, but only as an information item, not for a vote. After considering input given during and after that meeting, the subcommittee presented its 14-page policy to the University Senates Conference, which then referred it back to the senates for further consideration and action. The most significant change approved by the senate on Monday was the removal of one sentence listing the sanctions that can be imposed for violation of the policy. Several senators and administrators noted, however, that the sanctions - ranging from reprimand to the initiation of dismissal procedures - are still available, even if not spelled out in the policy. Weatherford said the new federal guidelines will require the filing of additional paperwork with each grant application sent to the agencies using those guidelines. Efforts are being made by the university, however, to simplify that process.