National Science Foundation [NSF]
NSF Commissioned JASON Report
NSF commissioned the report to enhance the agency’s understanding of the threats to basic research posed by foreign governments that have taken actions that violate the principles of scientific ethics and research integrity. With the official receipt of the report, NSF will now begin the process of analyzing its findings and recommendations.
NEWS ALERT: US National Science Foundation reveals first details on foreign-influence investigations [NEW July 2020] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02051-8
“The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has for the first time released figures on the actions it has taken against researchers found to have violated rules on the disclosure of foreign ties. Since 2018, the agency has reassigned, suspended or terminated grants, forced institutions to return funds or barred researchers from applying for future funding in 16–20 cases in which rules weren’t followed, according to Rebecca Keiser, the agency’s first chief of research security strategy and policy. All of these were cases in which the NSF’s Office of Inspector General, an independent body responsible for oversight of the agency and its grant recipients, had investigated and made recommendations on how to handle sanctions. Separately, the inspector-general referred an undisclosed number of criminal and civil cases involving fraud and nondisclosure to the US Department of Justice. Furthermore, in the past two months, seven universities have contacted the NSF directly with information on faculty members who might have violated rules.”
The NSF Dear Colleague letter outlined a few steps it is taking to mitigate the risks in concert with other agencies and stakeholders. Highlights from the letter:
- Citizenship Requirements
- To ensure that NSF is applying consistent standards to all staff members, each of whom has access to sensitive merit review and other information, we issued a requirement in April 2018 that rotators working onsite at NSF must be U.S. citizens or have applied for U.S. citizenship.
- Disclosure Requirements
- Since 1978, NSF has required senior project personnel on proposals to disclose all sources of support, both foreign and domestic.
- Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
- A renewed effort is now underway to ensure that existing requirements to disclose current and pending support information are known, understood, and followed.
- For example, in May, we published in the Federal Register a proposed clarification of our proposal disclosure requirements (open for public comment through July 29). Our draft NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide includes clarifications regarding reporting requirements for both current and pending support and professional appointments.
- To streamline the process for providing these disclosures to NSF, we are proposing use of an electronic format for submission of biographical sketches, including disclosure of all appointments. As currently envisioned, this will become effective in January 2020. We are also working to develop an electronic format for disclosure of current and pending support information.
- Foreign Government Talent Programs
- Finally, we are issuing a policy making it clear that NSF personnel and IPAs detailed to NSF cannot participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs. There is a risk that participation in foreign government talent recruitment programs by NSF personnel and IPAs will compromise the ethical principles that bind us. Moreover, such participation poses significant risks of inappropriate foreign influence on NSF policies, programs, and priorities, including the integrity of NSF's merit review process—risks we simply cannot accept.