Foreign Engagement and Influence

foreign_influence

Resources to Navigate Foreign Engagement & Influence

The University of Miami recognizes the importance of international collaborations for scientific advances, but also acknowledges that some organizations may have hidden motives for seeking collaboration with our faculty. ​The U.S. government has identified numerous occurrences of inappropriate influence by foreign governments over federally funded research and innovation, including:​

  • failure to disclose all foreign affiliations, other support, conflicts of interest, and conflicts of commitment and in applications for NIH grants;​
  • diversion of proprietary or pre-publication information disclosed in grant applications or produced by NIH-supported research to those not authorized to receive it; and​
  • breaches of confidentiality in peer review.​

Our policies require faculty and some employees to disclose information that assists in identifying potential risks of foreign influence. The University also adopted additional policies to address federal agency and departmental reporting requirements for grant recipients.  ​Below we introduce all the University resources that help researchers and scholars navigate foreign affiliations, other support received, conflicts of interest, and conflicts of commitment.​

University Offices Providing Guidance

Disclosures & Relationship Management

Along with administration of the UDisclose System, the DRM works with the COI Committee (COIC) is to determine whether an investigator’s relationship with an external entity creates a situation that could introduce bias into a research project conducted at UM or by UM investigators, and, where this occurs, to manage it.
Go to Udisclose

Export Control & Compliance

While UM applies the principles of freedom of inquiry and open exchange of knowledge, we must also be mindful of the federal laws and regulations governing the exchange of research materials and results that are subject to export controls. Restricted Party Screening

Research Administration

RA ensures that the research community receives professional, customer-oriented administrative support and that our extramural sponsors are assured research funds are managed appropriately.

Office of Technology Transfer

The OTT team is responsible for assessing, protecting and commercializing new Innovations: Technology licensing, Material Transfer Agreement and Non-Disclosure Agreement Reviews

audit & advisory services

The mission of Audit and Advisory Services is to provide independent, objective assurance and consulting services, using a risk-based approach, to add value and improve the operations of the University.

Travel Management Department

The University of Miami Travel Management Department is your source for University travel needs and information, including international travel.

International Student and Scholar Services

ISSS facilitates enrollment, retention, and graduation for international students and ensures successful experiences for international scholars (faculty and researchers).

Hemispheric and Global Affairs

H&GA is a university-wide resource that connects UM with global networks of scholars, students, universities, and the broader international community engaging on international issues, research, and scholarships.

The What, When, How, Why & Who of Foreign Engagement

What

When

How

Why

Responsible UM Office

Disclose financial & obligatory interests and foreign support

Before submission of funding proposal and before engaging in research, at least annually, and within 30 days of acquiring new interests

The UDisclose System

Conflict of Interest in Research Policy

Disclosures & Relationship Management (DRM)

Disclose recruitment or participation in a ‘foreign talent’ program (ex. 1000 Talents Program)

Immediately

The UDisclose System

Conflict of Interest in Research Policy

DRM

Consult with export control officer, as needed

Consult shipping overseas, engaging in international collaborations, research-related travel abroad

Export Control Compliance

U. S. Export Control Regulations; Export Control Policy

Export Control

Review and update Other Support

Before submitting Other Support to any entity, sponsor, or person

In accordance with sponsor guidelines and policies. For more information, see Reminders of NIH Policies on Other Support and NSF FAQs

Required by sponsors to be eligible for and receive funding

Research Administration

Ensure appropriate disclosure of foreign components on sponsored research

Before commencement of work with a foreign entity, whether or not grant funds are expended

Contact Research Administration

The terms of many awards require that the sponsor review and approve the foreign component in advance

Research Administration

Involvement in a start‐up
company or technology

Before sending or receiving proprietary information about the related technology

Contact Office of Technology Transfer (OTT)

IP Tech Transfer Policies

OTT

International travel

Two (2) weeks in advance of the expected departure

International Travel Authorization Forms

International Travel Approval Policy

Travel Management Department 

Foreign Engagement FAQs

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  • Should UM researchers avoid international collaborations?

    No. International collaboration is valued by UM and remains an essential part of the research and educational missions of the University. There are many options to pursue international collaborations at UM via university-to-university agreements, research sponsorship agreements, visitor and student exchange, etc. Support for research must be disclosed and any personal contracts or agreements between yourself and another institution must be disclosed in the UDisclose System.

  • How is UM addressing Foreign Influence?

    UM has formed the Foreign Influence Initiative Taskforce and continues to engage with federal agencies, research sponsors and national organizations.

  • What are the specific concerns regarding foreign influence in the academic setting?

    The FBI and other federal government agencies have expressed concern that some foreign actors, particularly foreign state adversaries, are seeking to acquire U.S. academic research and information illicitly or illegitimately in order to advance their scientific, economic, and military development goals through the exploitation of the culture of collaboration and openness on university campuses.

    More specifically, NIH has identified three areas of concern:  diversion of intellectual property; peer reviewers inappropriately sharing confidential information on grant applications; and failure of researchers at NIH-funded U.S. institutions to disclose foreign affiliations and collaborations, and/or substantial resources received from other organizations, including foreign governments and universities.

  • Do these issues apply only to NIH Grants?

    No. The Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Energy have also issued statements regarding this issue. Given the current U.S. Government focus on this issue, we anticipate similar guidance, statements, or requirements will be forthcoming from other funding agencies.

  • What are “foreign talent recruitment programs” and why is there concern about them?

    The federal government is concerned that foreign talent recruitment programs may be used by foreign governments to acquire, legally and illegally, U.S. government-funded scientific research in order to dominate high technology sectors currently led by U.S. entities. As described by the FBI, these programs target individuals who are working in technological fields of interest to the foreign government, offering competitive salaries, state-of-the-art research facilities and/or honorific titles in an effort to encourage the transfer of ideas and intellectual property.  The Department of Energy defines a  foreign talent recruitment program as an effort directly or indirectly organized, managed, or funded by a foreign government to recruit science and technology professionals or students (regardless of citizenship or national origin, and whether having a full-time or part-time position).

  • What is the federal government doing to address concerns about foreign talent recruitment programs?

    At present, there is no generally applicable U.S. legal or regulatory prohibition on participation in a foreign recruitment program. However, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued an that prohibits DOE employees and contractor employees from participating in certain foreign talent recruitment programs to ensure protection of U.S. competitive and national security interests as well as DOE program objectives.  Similarly, NSF announced a policy prohibiting NSF personnel and Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) detailees to NSF from participating in foreign government talent recruitment programs due to risk concerns. While there is no legal prohibition on participating in these programs, it is important to fully disclose participation in any foreign talent recruitment program to the University as well as any governmental agency, if asked.

  • What steps must I take in response to these concerns?

    Adhere to the guidance issued by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research And Scholarship. Make your sponsors aware of your collaborations and interactions with foreign entities that support or contribute to your research program; federal agencies are expecting a thorough account of touchpoints between your research program and any foreign entity. Be familiar with the terms and conditions of your award. Prior approval by the sponsor may be required prior to foreign travel or the addition of a foreign component to the project.

    • If you are NIH funded: In July 2019 the NIH published FAQs regarding “Other Support and Foreign Components,” which provide more detail on NIH’s expectations regarding what qualifies as “other support” and when a project includes a “foreign component.” These clarifications address how to account appropriately for visiting scholars, start-up and other internal funds, and foreign collaborations, even if no grant funds are expended on the collaboration. Additionally, Michael Lauer, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, has blogged on the topic of “other support,” providing examples of what should be disclosed. Additional information can be found on the NIH website Protecting U.S. Biomedical Intellectual Innovation.
    • If you are NSF funded: The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) issued in June 2020 clarifies the type of support that must be disclosed in the current and pending support. In July 2020, the NSF also issued FAQs about what and how to disclosure current and pending support.

  • Do I need to end my foreign collaborations and/or stop welcoming foreign students and visitors into my lab?

    The University of Miami has always and will continue to encourage and support foreign collaborations.  However, consistent with federal agency guidance you must obtain prior approval prior to foreign travel or adding a foreign component if required by the terms and conditions of the award and you should provide information to your research sponsors about all foreign collaborations and ensure that all foreign Research Visitors are screened through the Export Controls Compliance, confirming that there are no restrictions upon hosting such visitors.   That said, there remains considerable concern with foreign talent programs. If you are involved in or are invited to participate in such a program, you should disclose this involvement and obtain guidance from your school/college or departmental research administration staff, or UM’s Research Administration

     

     

  • Do I need to make disclosures related to the work of my graduate students if they are Foreign Persons?

    In most cases, there is no reason to disclose participation of foreign students or postdocs on sponsored research, especially if all such work will be performed in the U.S. However, classified and export controlled projects will be subject to foreign national restrictions. It may be possible to employ certain foreign persons on controlled projects after appropriate licenses and/or exemptions are secured. Please contact Export Controls Compliance for more information on such cases. There are no foreign national restrictions on “Fundamental Research” projects. However, there may be cases where working with a student or postdoc might be considered a “foreign component,” if that student or postdoc is performing effort in a foreign country. NIH defines a foreign component as “any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended."

  • I have a visitor in my lab who is supported by his/her home foreign institution. S/he is not funded by any of my federal grants. Do I need to account for this visitor in proposals or progress reports? If so, how?

    We do not have specific guidance from all sponsors on this topic, however, per NIH guidelines, this person’s work on the project should be documented as follows:

    1. As “Other Support” because the externally funded individual is a “resource available in direct support of [your] research endeavors.” The NIH recently clarified that “all research resources including, but not limited to, foreign financial support, research or laboratory personnel, lab space, scientific materials, … must be reported.”
    2. As a “Participant” in the progress report if the person worked on a project for more than a month in any given year (see 4 Section D – Participants). Additionally, the person’s “primary affiliation” is determined by where the work was done for the project: if the individual is affiliated with a foreign organization but worked on the award solely in the U.S., the “primary affiliation” is not foreign; if work was performed while outside of the U.S., the primary affiliation should be noted as foreign.
    3. As a “Foreign Component” if the individual performed part of the work while in your UM lab, but also made a significant contribution to the project a from his/her home institution, or any other foreign location (e.g. collecting data at a foreign site, running samples on instrumentation there, and/or will be a co-author on publications arising from the grant). In accordance with NIH policy, the addition of a foreign component requires NIH prior approval.

  • I have family in countries outside the United States and I travel for personal reasons. Do I need to disclose all travel to the University – even if it is unrelated to my UM work?

    No. Note, however, that if you travel internationally with your work laptop or other device, you should be mindful of any sensitive data that the device may contain and take steps to ensure the security of those data.  Please refer to Export Controls Compliance on travel with laptops and guidance from UMIT on device security. Additional information is available from the University of Miami Travel Management Department.

  • How do I know if a company, university, or other entity creates risk? Do you have examples of entities that I should not work with or that invite extra scrutiny?

    The federal government maintains lists of entities that are higher risk, information that changes frequently. UM uses software called Amber Road to screen proposed partners of UM against these lists, including sponsors of research, proposed vendors or subcontractors, and others. One well-publicized example of a company that has received federal government attention is Huawei, which the federal government recently placed on a restricted list. Please contact the Export Controls Compliance if you have any questions about engaging with foreign entities – including accepting gifts.

  • I have been invited to a foreign institution to present at a conference. If I attend, do I need to disclose my participation to sponsors? To UM?

    In general, one-time travel to present at a conference would not require disclosure to sponsors.  If, however, that travel establishes a relationship with a foreign university, government, or other entity (e.g., results in an honorary or visiting appointment or an offer to set up laboratory space at that institution), then that may need to be disclosed, depending on the sponsor and their specific guidelines. 

    Yes, you should disclose the relationship with the foreign institutuion to UM through the UDisclose System. Simply enter the name of the institution and indicate “Sponsored or reimbursed travel” as the type of relationship. Provide as many details as possible in the disclosure form.

  • I am getting ready to submit a paper with many — possibly hundreds — of co-authors, some of which are foreign and were undoubtedly funded by grants in their home country (i.e., foreign funding). Does each of those individuals need to be accounted for as a Foreign Component?

    Please reach out to your NIH/NSF Program Officer to confirm whether or not these individiuals consititute a foreign component. When required, disclosure of foreign co-authors to the NIH should occur prior to working with the foreign co-author(s). Other sponsors have not specifically commented on this; should you have questions, please consult your sponsor point of contact.