On April 22, 2019, and in response to federal government and agency concerns regarding foreign influence, the AAU and APLU issued a joint memo detailing the actions taken by 39 institutions in response to foreign influence. The institutions were asked to describe their policies, practices, tools, and resources regarding: (1) awareness building and communications; (2) coordination; (3) training of faculty and students; (4) review of foreign gifts, grants, contracts, and collaborations; (5) review of faculty foreign financial interests and affiliations; (6) protection of data and cybersecurity; (7) protection of intellectual property and use of technology control plans; (8) regular interactions with federal security and intelligence agencies; (9) foreign travel safeguards and protections; (10) international visitors to campus; and (11) export control compliance.
On August 5, 2019, the presidents of the AAU and APLU issued a joint opinion on the need for higher education institutions to bolster the security of their research without sacrificing openness and collaboration.
On July 29, 2019, the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) issued formal comments in response to NSF’s proposed changes to its Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.
On September 16, 2019, the Executive Office of the President Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a Letter to the United States Research Community detailing the efforts of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and its work through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). In May 2019, the NTSC formally established the Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE), which was tasked with investigating research security, safe and inclusive research environments, research rigor and integrity, and coordinating administrative requirements for research. To that end, JCORE organized its work around for primary lines of effort: (1) coordinating outreach and engagement, (2) establishing and coordinating disclosure requirements, (3) developing best practices for academic research institutions, and (4) developing methods for identification, assessment, and management of risk. JCORE issued a summary of its efforts in November 2019.
The FBI has produced several resources for universities and research institutions providing a general overview of the risks partners face from China and the steps universities can take to protect themselves from counterintelligence threats.
On December 11, 2019, and as part of its ongoing effort to keep international research collaboration both open and secure, the National Science Foundation released a report by JASON, an independent science advisory group, entitled “Fundamental Research Security.” Four major themes emerged from the JASON study:
- The value of, and need for, foreign scientific talent in the U.S.
- The significant negative impacts of placing new restrictions on access to fundamental research.
- The need to extend our notion of research integrity to include disclosures of commitments and potential conflicts of interest
- The need for a common understanding between academia and U.S. government agencies about how to best protect U.S. interests in fundamental research while maintaining openness and successfully competing in the global marketplace for STEM talent.