Foreign Influence and Federal Grants

NDSU’s core values include the beliefs that we derive strength and vitality from each other and from the diverse communities we serve and as a land-grant university we are welcoming and respectful of differences in people and ideas. We are a diverse population with over 80 countries represented by our graduate students alone. Our commitment to these values is evident in our educational, research, and outreach efforts locally, in our region, our country, and the world. 

As federal agencies work to update regulations and requirements related to foreign influence in the scientific process, there may be changes to agency grant application and/or grant award processes. Review the information below to learn more about the Office of Science and Technology Policy letter to the U.S. research community and federal agency responses to the issue. 

RCA staff will work to keep researchers informed of these changes and potential impacts to research funding as we are made aware. If you are working with a foreign entity contact an RCA staff member (listed below) in the relevant area of expertise.

Check your sponsor’s current disclosure requirements carefully and, if in doubt, disclose

Office of Science and Technology Policy Letter

Over the last two years, there has been an increasing concern at the federal level regarding foreign influence in scientific research. Recently, a Dear Colleague letter to all U.S. researchers was released by Kevin Droegemeier, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It establishes four areas of effort:

  • Coordinating outreach and engagement
  • Establishing and coordinating disclosure requirements
  • Developing best practices for academic research institutions
  • Developing methods for identification, assessment, and management of risk

Read full letter

Federal Agency Responses

While Federal agencies are responding to these concerns and have implemented some changes to begin to address them, it is not yet clear what the final outcome will be. Some federal agencies have sent "Dear Colleague" letters outlining their initial efforts to address these concerns.

  • NSF Memorandum: Foreign Interference in National Science Foundation Funding and Grant Making Processes: A summary of findings from 2019 to 2021, August, 2021
  • NIH Memorandum: Foreign Interference in National Institutes of Health Funding and Grant Making Processes: A Summary of Findings From 2016 to 2021, July, 2021
  • Dear Colleague Letter from DOD Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael D. Griffin, October 2019
  • Dear Colleague letter from NSF Director France Cordova, July 2019
  • DOE Order 0 486.1 from the U.S. Department of Energy, June 6, 2019 
  • Dear Colleague letter from NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., August, 2018

    RCA Contacts

    If you have questions about federal agency responses to foreign influence in the areas below, contact links are provided:

    Grant Proposals
    Contact: Val Kettner, Sponsored Programs Administration
    Investigators are responsible for including information about any foreign support consistent with the funding agency requirements in their sponsored projects documents. If you have any questions about specific requirements for inclusion of foreign support in external proposal documents, please contact the SPA team.

    Conflict of Interest
    Contact: Amanda WilkinsonResearch Compliance Administrator
    Conflicts of interest in research are situations in which financial or other personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an investigator's judgement in conducting or reporting research.

    International Travel
    Contact: Sharon May, Export Controls
    When traveling abroad there are three basic questions to consider when determining if export controls apply: Where are you going? What are you taking with you? What are you doing and who will you be interacting with? In general, travel to most countries is not a problem. 

    International Collaborations
    Contact: Sharon May, Export Controls
    In general, collaborations between university personnel and scholars at foreign institutions or organizations do not require export licenses (which are prior approvals from the government that allow participation of foreign national faculty, staff, or students to be involved in research) unless they involve export controlled or restricted research or involve scholars in sanctioned countries. Before engaging in an international collaboration, the Office of Export Controls will determine if export licenses are required and verify that the foreign individual and/or organization are not blocked or sanctioned entities.

    Export Controls
    Contact: Sharon May, Export Controls
    Export Controls are federal laws and regulations that govern the transfer of goods, technologies, related technical data, and some services and money. They are intended to protect national security, economic interests and foreign policy of the United States. While these laws are not new, they have received more attention post 9/11. Today, as global threats increase, there are heightened concerns about national security and stricter interpretation and enforcement of export control laws by the federal government.

    Invention Disclosures
    Contact: Jolynne Tschetter, Industry Engagement & Intellectual Property
    Inventions, discoveries and emerging technologies are flowing through the innovation pipeline at NDSU. The office of Industry Engagement and Intellectual Property (IEIP) works with the NDSU Research Foundation (NDSURF) to protect and promote these inventions and the intellectual property (IP) rights therein.

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