NIH Inquiries into Foreign Research Support, “Foreign Components” of Awards, and Personal Income from Foreign Government Entities

March 25, 2019

Thank you for your interest in our recent teleconference on March 25. We want to make sure that you have the benefit of the presentation. Click the links below to access the presentation materials.

For information related to our compliance and investigations capabilities in Asia, please see: Compliance & Investigations – Asia Life Sciences.

We also wanted to provide follow-up answers to two questions raised but not addressed during the audioconference. 

What guidance has been issued by other agencies regarding researchers’ foreign collaborations?

The Department of Energy recently has released two memoranda (linked below) limiting DOE-funded researchers’ participation in talent recruitment programs of sensitive countries and, upon working group approval, prohibiting DOE grant, fellowship and center recipients from using U.S. tax dollars to conduct international research collaborations or support sensitive country foreign nationals in certain areas, among other restrictions.

The National Science Board, which establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation, issued a statement in October 2018 (linked below) encouraging institutions to “embrace transparency and rigorously adhere to conflict of interest and commitment policies. . . . [and] educate their communities about how to protect the integrity of research.”

As part of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, the Department of Defense is required to conduct an “initiative to support protection of national security academic researchers for undue influence and other security threats.” See H.R. 5515, § 1286 (linked below). The law requires the Secretary of Defense to work with institutions carrying out defense research and engineering activities to undertake various activities, including development of “the capacity of government and academic institutions and institutions of higher education to assess whether individuals affiliated with Department of Defense programs have participated in or are currently participating in foreign talent programs or expert recruitment programs.”

How does required Stevens Amendment reporting factor into NIH's updated focus on foreign components and publication-related affiliations?

The Stevens Amendment requires recipients of funding from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to acknowledge the receipt of certain federal funds when issuing statements, press releases, requests for proposals, bid solicitations, and other documents describing federally-funded projects or programs. See Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-141, 132 Stat. 348, dv. H, title V, § 505 (Mar. 23, 2018). Any such published documents acknowledging both federal funds and foreign funds supporting the same or similar projects could conceivably be used as another source to which federal agencies might look in trying to identify instances in which a “foreign component” or “other support” had not been properly reported by the research institution to the federally funding agency.

Department of Energy, December 14, 2018 Memorandum

Department of Energy, January 31, 2019 Memorandum

Statement of the National Science Board on Security and Science

HR 5515, Sec. 1286

HR 1625, Sec. 505