National security agencies, federal granting agencies, the White House and members of Congress have all signaled their increasing concern about systematic programs of foreign interference and misappropriation of intellectual property at U.S. research universities. NKU encourages faculty and staff to ensure that their international collaborations and global engagement activities are both transparent and in full compliance with relevant policies and regulations.
Federal agencies have issued statements expressing growing concerns over the potential for foreign influence in the following areas:
“Foreign influence” has not been comprehensively defined by the federal government. The government has identified federal interest disclosure requirements that may be indicators of foreign influence. Depending on the federal agency involved, these disclosure requirements may include:
Recently, several departments and agencies of the United States Government have imposed new foreign interest reporting requirements, restrictions, or provided supplemental guidance related to personnel who participate in foreign talent programs, receive foreign government support (funded or unfunded), and also participate in U.S. Government contracts and other awards:
In its July 10, 2019 Notice NOT-OD-19-114 Reminders of NIH Policies on Other Support and on Policies and accompanying FAQs related to Financial Conflicts of Interest and Foreign Components, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reminded the community (including universities) that applicants and awardees must disclose all forms of research and other support and financial interests, including support coming from foreign governments or-other foreign entities. Support can also include in-kind support such as foreign laboratory facilities (“Shadow Labs”) and other forms of unfunded support.
NIH can and does penalize institutions and researchers who do not disclose all forms of foreign financial interests. In May and June of 2019, NIH referred 16 cases related to foreign influence of U.S.-funded research to the Office of Inspector General and contacted 160 research institutions about such concerns. In proposals for NIH funding sent to the NKU’s Office of Research, Grants and Contracts, faculty must be sure to disclose all foreign financial relationships with foreign governments, foreign government entities, and other foreign sources.
Foreign Components: activities that include the existence of any "significant scientific element or segment of the project" outside of the United States, including but not limited to performance of work by a researcher in a foreign location employed or paid by a foreign organization, whether or not NIH grant funds are expended.
Other Support: includes but is not limited to "all current projects and activities that involve senior/key personnel, even if the support received is only in-kind (e.g. office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, employees). All research resources including, but not limited to, foreign financial support, research or laboratory personnel, lab space, scientific materials, selection to a foreign “talents” or similar-type program, or other foreign or domestic support."
Shadow Lab: NIH has used but not defined the term "Shadow Lab".
On February 25, 2020, the National Science Foundation (NSF) revised Current and Pending Support (C&P) & Biographical Sketch language in a Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (Current and Pending Support in the PPAG). This new guidance will be effective June 2020.
Current and pending support information must be separately provided through use of an NSF-approved format, for each individual designated as senior personnel on the
Current and pending support includes all resources made available to an individual in
support of and/or related to all of his/her research efforts, regardless of whether or not they have monetary value. Current and pending support also includes in-kind contributions (such as office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, employees, students).
In-kind contributions not intended for use on the project/proposal being proposed also must be reported.
Current and pending support information must be provided for the project that is requesting funding, for ongoing projects, and for any proposals currently under consideration from whatever source, irrespective of whether such support is provided through the proposing organization or is provided directly to the individual.
A list must be provided, in reverse chronological order by start date of all the individual's academic, professional, or institutional appointments beginning with the current appointment. Appointments include any titled academic, professional, or institutional position whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary).
Proposers should include an aggregated description of the internal and external resources (both physical and personnel) that the organization and its collaborators will
provide to the project, should it be funded. Such information must be provided
in this section, in lieu of other parts of the proposal (e.g., Budget Justification, Project Description). The description should be narrative in nature and must not include any quantifiable financial information.
Also, in a July 11, 2019 Dear Colleagues Letter, NSF provided the following guidance:
it is NSF policy that university personnel subject to an Interdepartmental Personnel Agreement (IPA) with NSF cannot participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs.
On March 20, 2019 the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment issued a DoD Memorandum on the further implementation of Sec. 1286 of the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Initiative to support protection of national security academic researchers from undue influence and other security threats. The memorandum requires proposers for all research and research-related education non-procurement transactions to submit detailed information on other current and pending support for all “key personnel.” The information is to be included in a Senior/Key Person Profile included in all Funding Opportunity Notices (NFOs). The requirement was effective for Non-Federal Organizations (NFOs) 30 business days after issuance of the memorandum. For research and research-related educational NFOs (post April 19, 2019), reporting Current and Pending support is not optional.
According to the memorandum, “this information will be used to support protection of
intellectual property, controlled information, key personnel, and information about critical technologies relevant to national security. Additionally, this information will be used to limit undue influence, including foreign talent programs, by countries that desire to exploit United States' technology within the DoD research, science and technology, and innovation enterprise.”
On December 14, 2018, the Department of Energy issued a Memorandum addressing concerns about foreign exploitation of the U.S. scientific community. This memorandum announced several policy changes, including prohibiting sensitive country foreign nationals from designated countries from conducting Foreign Visits and Assignments on specific research areas. It also identified its proposal to prohibit DOE grant recipients from using U.S. tax dollars to conduct international research collaborations in specified research areas and locations.
On January 31, 2019, DOE issued a Memorandum announcing a plan to, in part, prohibit individuals from participating in foreign talent recruitment programs of DOE-designated sensitive countries while performing on DOE contracts. DOE specifically noted that “[t]hese limitations also will apply to recipients of financial assistance (e.g., grants or cooperative agreements).”
In February 2019, DOE issued a notice regarding its intention to require “federal and contractor personnel [to] fully disclose and, as necessary, terminate affiliations with foreign government-supported talent recruitment programs.” A notice followed in June 2019 in which the DOE provided its definition of a Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Program.