Federally Sponsored Research
The following policies and regulations have recently been established by federal research sponsors to safeguard the United States’ economic competitiveness and national security. An area of special focus has been the disclosure of international engagements by individual investigators in applications for research support.
National Security Presidential Memorandum-33 (NSPM-33)
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has been working through the National Science and Technology Council to develop implementation guidance for NSPM-33, and provide clear and effective rules for ensuring research security and researcher responsibilities to the various federal departments and agencies. The guidance directs federal research agencies to develop model grant application forms and instructions that can be used (and adapted where required) by any federal research funding agency. The goal is for the government to clearly describe what it needs to know and for researchers to be able to report the same information in the same way to the greatest extent possible, regardless of which funding agency they’re applying to. Clearly laying out the required information will ease administrative burdens on the research community, and it will also enable software developers to make tools to enable researchers to populate digital CVs from which they can readily export relevant information.
While current NSPM-33 guidance seeks to clarify and simplify how researchers disclose information to the federal government, the OSTP also intends to provide information on how the government uses this information in making decisions about research funding and support at a future date.
On January 11, 2022, the Council on Government Relations (COGR) released a summary of the NSPM-33 disclosure requirements and other provisions.
Following are some of the recent announcements by federal sponsors concerning foreign involvement at U.S. universities:
Department of Energy (DOE):
- On September 3, 2020, DOE issued DOE Order 486.1A requiring DOE contractors to exercise due diligence to ensure that none of its employees or subcontractors “participate in a foreign government talent recruitment program, or other activity sponsored or affiliated with the government of a foreign country of risk while performing work within the scope of the DOE contract.”
- On December 13, 2019, DOE issued DOE Order 142.3A Chg 2 to remove an exemption from prior approval requirements for certain foreign nationals participating in DOE funded fundamental research projects at universities. The full implications of this change are not yet known, and the UC Office of the President (UCOP) staff are currently in discussions with DOE officials. In May 2020, UCOP issued guidance to the contracts and grants staff at the UC campuses on awards containing this Order. If any Berkeley Lab investigators are recipients of such an award, the cognizant OCGA officer will contact them to determine what actions may be necessary in order to achieve compliance with UC policy concerning nondiscrimination on the basis of citizenship.
National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- On August 20, 2018, the NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, issued a letter reminding the research community of the requirement to disclose in funding applications and progress reports “all forms of other support and financial interests, including support coming from foreign governments or other foreign entities.”
- NIH issued NIH Notice NOT-OD-19-114 in July 2019 with specific guidance on other support disclosure, and reminded NIH applicants and recipients that “other support includes all resources made available to a researcher in support of and/or related to all of their research endeavors, regardless of whether or not they have monetary value and regardless of whether they are based at the institution the researcher identifies for the current grant.”
National Science Foundation (NSF):
- On July 11, 2019, NSF Director, Dr. France Cordova issued a “Dear Colleagues Letter” commenting on an increase in “the scope and sophistication of the activities threatening our research community” and outlining NSF’s plans to address this situation, including a renewed effort “to ensure that existing requirements to disclose current and pending support information are known, understood, and followed.”
- In December 2019, NSF released a report entitled “Fundamental Research Security.” Among other findings, this report identified “problems with respect to research transparency, lack of reciprocity in collaborations and consortia, and reporting of commitments and potential conflicts of interest.” The report further recommended that failure to report commitments and potential conflicts of interest should have consequences similar to those now in place for cases of research misconduct.
Department of Defense (DOD):
- The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019 stated that DOD shall “establish an initiative to work with academic institutions…to support protection of intellectual property and controlled information…and to limit undue influence, including through foreign talent programs, by countries to exploit United States technology.”
- DOD issued a memo on March 20, 2019 outlined disclosure requirements for Key Personnel on research and research-related educational activities supported by DOD grants and contracts.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
- Since 2011, NASA has prohibited the use of any its funding to enter into agreements “to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company, at the prime recipient level or at any subrecipient level, whether the bilateral involvement is funded or performed under a no-exchange of funds arrangement.”
Information that must be disclosed to research sponsors
In compliance with individual sponsor requirements, certain collaborations and/or affiliations with foreign as well as domestic entities or individuals must be disclosed in proposals and reports. These collaborations and affiliations may include exchanges of staff, materials, data, funding, or other significant activity which could result in joint authorship, as well as positions (compensated or not).
Failure to fully disclose foreign/domestic collaborations, affiliations, and resources in funding applications and other documents can have serious consequences, and may endanger Berkeley Lab’s eligibility for future funding.
When a Berkeley Lab Principal Investigator completes and submits a proposal to a federal agency, the PI is certifying that all information is complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge, and failure to disclose may lead to charges of providing fraudulent information. In some cases, failure to disclose has led to criminal charges against individual researchers.
The White House has issued guidance on disclosure of international collaboration, Guidance for U.S. Scientific Research Security That Preserves International Collaboration, January 04, 2022.
Please contact your division research administrator, or the Strategic Partnerships Office (SPO), if you have any questions on disclosure requirements. The policies of the various agencies are not consistent and are being continuously modified. The disclosure policies of some key agencies are summarized below:
- National Institutes of Health
- National Science Foundation
- Department of Defense
- Department of Energy
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
For disclosure policies of other federal research sponsors, please review the program announcements and proposal preparation guides, and contact SPO with any questions.
Information That Must Be Disclosed to Berkeley Lab
This chart summarizes the Conflict of Interest (COI) and Conflict of Commitment (COC) policies under which researchers must disclose certain information to Berkeley Lab in order to achieve compliance with federal, state, and university requirements. Additional details and links to policy are provided following the chart.
|Purpose||To protect the integrity and objectivity of research conducted by Berkeley Lab investigators, and comply with related policies and regulations|
|Who Files||Principal Investigators and others who share responsibility for the design, conduct or reporting of externally supported research in conjunction with |
|What is Filed||Depends upon source of funding |
|When is Filing Required||Depends upon source of funding |
|Filing Required Under Policies Established By|
|Online Systems||COPA, eSRA|
|Berkeley Lab Office with Administrative Responsibility||Research Compliance Office (RCO)|
Note: All involvement (funded or unfunded) with foreign entities must be disclosed
- Compensated and uncompensated activities with countries of risk may be prohibited. Contact the Conflict of Interest Office at email@example.com with questions.
- Principal Investigators on sponsored research agreements and others who share responsibility for the design, conduct, or reporting of research supported by the National Science Foundation and all other federal agencies other than PHS (see below), must disclose personal financial interests, both U.S. and foreign, that may reasonably appear to be affected by the work performed under the sponsored project. This includes salary, consulting payments, honoraria, royalty payments, dividends, loans from the entity, equity interests, or intellectual property interests in the form of a patent, patent application, or copyright of software assigned to any entity other than the UC Regents.
- Principal Investigators on sponsored research agreements and others who share responsibility for the design, conduct or reporting of research supported by the Public Health Service (including the National Institutes of Health), must disclose personal financial interests that reasonably appear to be related to their Berkeley Lab responsibilities. Financial interests include income, honoraria, royalty payments for use or sale of patented or copyrighted intellectual property owned by an individual or organization other than the UC Regents, equity, and travel reimbursed by or directly purchased for the individual. While there are some exclusions for the U.S. government and institutions of higher education, all financial interests in foreign institutions must be disclosed. Reporting to NIH and other PHS agencies is done at Berkeley Lab through the electronic Sponsored Research Administration (eSRA) system. These disclosures may overlap or duplicate other funding source requirements as described above.