Guidance Regarding Foreign Influence and Research

Florida International University has developed a Guidance intended to provide practical information on how to address “Foreign Influence” concerns (defined below) with respect to institutional research, academic and commercialization activities, as well as individual faculty-conducted “outside” activities. The presentation slides of February 21, 2024 are available. Recordings of previous Foreign Influence Town Hall meetings and presentation slides are available at Foreign Influence – Research (

The United States Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to promoting and protecting U.S. research and innovation from the risk of illicit appropriation, influence and theft by foreign governments.  Various federal funding agencies—including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DoD), the National Aeronautical and Space Agency (NASA) — have issued notices and directives stating their commitment to safeguarding U.S. knowledge and intellectual property and reminding the U.S. research community of their disclosure obligations in regards to foreign entities and federally funded activities, including sponsored research.  We remind University researchers that you must disclose all current and pending support and affiliations, whether paid, unpaid, domestic or foreign, in your sponsored research proposals.  As further discussed below, this reporting obligation includes any funding you receive from any foreign government or entity, any courtesy or honorary appointments that you hold at other institutions and any participation that you have in any foreign talent recruitment programs.  University researchers are also reminded of your obligation to complete the University Outside Activities Report at least annually as set forth in the Conflict of Interest in Research policy # 2370.005.

Below is a summary of key agencies that fund research activities at FIU and their guidance related to foreign influence and your reporting obligations.  All documents discussed below are provided on this website.


On August 20, 2018, the NIH Director issued a Statement on Protecting the Integrity of U.S. Biomedical Research. In it, the Director acknowledged three areas of concern related to risks associated with the security of intellectual property, one of which was the failure by researchers to disclose substantial contributions of resources. The others were the diversion of intellectual property in grant applications and the sharing of confidential information by peer reviewers with foreign entities. NIH stated its commitment to work with NIH-funded academic institutions to address these concerns.

On July 10, 2019, the NIH issued a notice entitled, “Reminders of NIH Policies on Other Support and on Policies related to Financial Conflicts of Interest and Foreign Components”, the intent of which is to remind the NIH research community of the need to report foreign activities through documentation of other support, foreign components, and financial conflict of interest to prevent scientific, budgetary, or commitment overlap. Along with the notice, NIH also posted updated FAQs on these policies.

As reported by several professional organizations, including the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FD) and the media, the NIH has sent letters to grant recipients at various institutions inquiring into possible failures to disclose investigators’ foreign affiliations, foreign research support, and foreign components.

Foreign Components:
NIH requires investigators to disclose whether their NIH-funded projects include a “foreign component.” If it does, the application must include a foreign justification document and NIH must approve inclusion of the “foreign component” in the project.  NIH defines a foreign component as: the performance outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, of any significant scientific element or segment of a project, whether grant funds are expended outside the United States or not. Activities that meet this definition of “foreign component” include, but are not limited to,

  • the involvement of human subjects or animals,
  • extensive foreign travel by recipient project staff for the purpose of data collection, surveying, sampling, and similar activities,
  • any activity of the recipient that may have an impact on U.S. foreign policy through involvement in the affairs or environment of a foreign country.

Examples of other grant-related activities that may be of significance to NIH and should be disclosed are:

  • collaborations with investigators at a foreign site anticipated to result in co-authorship (even if not funded by the NIH grant);
  • use of facilities or instrumentation at a foreign site; or
  • receipt of financial support or resources from a foreign entity.

Please note that the NIH does not consider foreign travel for consultation to be a “foreign component.”

NIH Requirements During the Life of the Award:
The Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) which is submitted during the performance of the NIH-funded project must include all persons who have worked on the project at least one-person month per year during the reporting period, regardless of the source of their compensation.  Investigators must indicate if such person’s primary affiliation is with a foreign organization unless the individual is working on the award solely while in the United States.

Adding a Foreign Component –

NIH requires prior approval to add a “foreign component” not included in the application and approved at time of award.


On October 23, 2018, the National Science Board issued a Statement of the National Science Board on Security and Science in which it acknowledged the importance of the “free exchange of ideas,” and simultaneously noted that national security requires control in certain circumstances.  It provided that “U.S. universities and colleges must help . . . safeguard information that impacts national security and economic competitiveness” and recommended that all institutions conducting NSF-supported fundamental research “embrace transparency and rigorously adhere to conflict of interest and conflict of commitment policies…[and] educate their communities about how to protect the integrity of research.”

On July 11, 2019, NSF Director, Dr. France Córdova, issued a “Dear Colleague” letter discussing research protection and risks to the nation’s science and engineering enterprise. In her letter, Dr. Córdova reminded the research community that government ethics regulations require accurate and timely financial disclosure reports and that these regulations cover gifts from foreign governments. She further announced that NSF is developing an electronic format for disclosure of current and pending support information, as well as submission of biographical sketches, which would include all appointments.

It should be noted that the NSF’s draft 2020 Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG – page II-23) contains proposed revisions to Current and Pending Support (chapter II.C.2.h) and supporting NSF comments that clarify the expectation that faculty should disclose outside or individual activities that may not be part of the work activities performed on behalf of their institution.  Although these clarifications are not in effect yet, researchers are encouraged to consider these statements carefully as to NSF’s intent for broader disclosure of activities in Current and Pending Support forms.

Below are the NSF’s comments in regards to the proposed changes:

Information must be provided for all current and pending support irrespective of whether such support is provided through the proposing organization or directly to the individual.

Examples of current and pending support have been expanded to include non-profit organizations and consulting agreements.

All projects and activities that require a time commitment must be reported (no minimum has been established), even if the support received is only in-kind.

  • NSF pre-award and post-award disclosures table (April 22, 2022…read more)
  • Information regarding NSF pre-award and post-award disclosures relating to the biographical sketch and current and pending support (April 22, 2022…read more)


In December 14, 2018, the Department of Energy issued a Memorandum addressing concerns about foreign exploitation of the U.S. scientific community.  This Memorandum announced several policy changes, including prohibiting sensitive country foreign nationals from designated countries from conducting foreign visits and assignments on specific research areas.  It also identified its proposal to prohibit DOE grant recipients from using U.S. tax dollars to conduct international research collaborations in specified research areas and locations.

In January 2019, the DOE issued a Memorandum announcing a plan to, in part, prohibit individuals from participating in foreign talent recruitment programs of DOE-designated sensitive countries while performing on DOE contracts.  DOE specifically noted that “[t]hese limitations also will apply to recipients of financial assistance (e.g., grants or cooperative agreements).”

In February 2019, DOE issued a notice regarding its intention to require “federal and contractor personnel [to] fully disclose and, as necessary, terminate affiliations with foreign government-supported talent recruitment programs.”  A notice followed in June 2019 in which the DOE provided its definition of a Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Program. The notice defined a foreign government talent program as “any foreign-state-sponsored attempt to acquire U.S. scientific-funded research or technology through foreign government-run or funded recruitment programs that target scientists, engineers, academics, researchers, and entrepreneurs of all nationalities working or educated in the United States.”

In addition, the DOE requires additional information in their required quarterly progress reports. The following is a summary of the DOE’s new reporting requirements for senior or key personnel.  These requirements as listed below, are excerpted directly from the DOE award terms:

“Include the following information on participants and other collaborating organizations during the reporting period:

i. ​​​​​​​What individuals have worked on the project?

Provide the following information for: (1) Project director(s)/Principal investigator(s) (PDs/PIs); and (2) each person who has worked at least 160 hours on the project during the reporting period, regardless of the source of compensation. Please note that such reporting does not constitute a formal institutional report of effort on the project, but rather is used by agency program staff to evaluate the progress of the project during a given reporting period.

ii. ​​​​​​​Provide the name and identify the role the person played in this project.

Indicate the total number of months (including partial months) (Calendar, Academic, Summer) that the individual worked on this project. Using the project roles identified below, select the most senior role in which the person worked on the project for any significant length of time. For example, if an undergraduate student graduated, entered graduate school, and continued to work on the project, show that person as a graduate student, preferably explaining the change in involvement.

Project Roles:

Community College Faculty Technical School Faculty
K-12 Teacher
Postdoctoral (scholar, fellow or other postdoctoral position) Other Professional

iii. ​​​​​​​Identify the person’s state, U.S. territory, and/or country of residence

State whether this person collaborated internationally.

If the participant was U.S.-based, state whether this person collaborated internationally with an individual located in a foreign country and specify whether the person traveled to the foreign country as part of the collaboration, and, if so, what the duration of stay was. The foreign country(ies) should be identified.

If the participant was not U.S.-based, state whether this person traveled to the U.S. or another country as part of a collaboration, and, if so, what the duration of stay was. The destination country should be identified.


Name: Mary Smith
Total Number of Months: 5.5
Project Role: Graduate Student
Researcher Identifier: 1234567
Contribution to Project: Ms. Smith has performed work in the area of combined error-control and constrained coding.
State, U.S. territory, and/or country of residence: Michigan, U.S.A.
Collaborated with individual in foreign country: Yes
Country(ies) of foreign collaborator: China
Travelled to foreign country: Yes
If traveled to foreign country(ies), duration of stay: 5 months

iv. ​​What other organizations have been involved as partners?

Describe partner organizations- academic institutions, other nonprofits, industrial or commercial firms, state or local governments, schools or school systems, or other organizations (foreign or domestic) – that have been involved with the project. Partner organizations may provide financial or in-kind support, supply facilities or equipment, collaborate in the research, exchange personnel, or otherwise contribute.

v. ​​​​​Have other collaborators or contacts been involved?

Some significant collaborators or contacts within the recipient’s organization may not be covered by “What people have worked on the project?”. Likewise, some significant collaborators or contacts outside the recipients’ organization may not-be-covered under “What other organizations-have been involved as partners?”

For example, describe any significant:

collaborations with others within the recipient’s organization, especially interdepartmental or interdisciplinary collaborations;
collaborations or contact with others outside the organization; and
collaborations or contacts with others outside the United States or with an international organization.”


Citing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), on March 20, 2019, the DoD issued a Memorandum titled “Actions for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Controlled Information, Key Personnel and Critical Technologies.”  In this memorandum, DoD outlined disclosure requirements for research and research-related educational activities supported by DoD grants, cooperative agreements, and Technology Investment Agreements (TIAs).  Included among the requirements is the obligation for proposers to submit a list of all current projects and future support key personnel have or have applied to receive.

Section 1286 of the NDAA instructed DoD to undertake initiatives with academic institutions that perform defense research to support the protection of certain information and technologies and “to limit undue influence, including through foreign talent programs, by countries to exploit United States technology within the Department of Defense research, science and technology, and innovation enterprise.”


The University research community is reminded that restrictions on using NASA funds 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” continue to be in effect.

Office of Research and Economic Development Guidance

As a 21st century university focused on groundbreaking collaborative research with research projects throughout the world, FIU fully supports federally funded research and international collaborations. As a steward of Federal funds, we are committed to protecting U.S. research and innovation and the need to comply with Federal directives and disclosure regulations.

Please see below for FIU specific guidance and resources regarding researchers’ compliance obligations.

Disclosure of foreign support:
ORED proposal and award personnel will continue to work with PIs at proposal and just in time (award) stages to confirm that all key personnel have listed all pending proposals and active awards and to inquire that all foreign components and “other support” have been properly disclosed. If a researcher has any questions or needs to disclose any previously undisclosed foreign support they should contact Robert Gutierrez, Assistant Vice President for Research at

Participation in foreign government-sponsored talent programs.
A question has been added to the electronic proposal routing approval form (ePRAF) to inquire if there has been or will be any participation in a foreign sponsored talent program. Researchers are reminded that participation in a foreign government sponsored talent program may jeopardize your ability to receive future federal funding for research or your ability to collaborate with U.S. government agencies. Additionally any such participation must be disclosed via the institution’s Report of Outside Activities/Conflict of Interest System and such participation must be approved institutionally prior to engaging in such activity.

Please note that federal agencies do not have a unified definition of what constitutes a foreign talent program. As such, ORED encourages you to contact Robert Gutierrez, Assistant Vice President for Research, to discuss offers for research which will be awarded to you as an individual (not through FIU) which may require frequent travel to or extended stays in the foreign country from which the offer of research support originated since these are possible indicators that the activity could constitute a government-supported foreign talent program.

Collaborating with international subawardees.
ORED has established formal procedures for administering both domestic and foreign subawards. All subrecipients are subject to a risk assessment and restricted screening process as set forth in ORED operating procedures. Subawards with foreign entities are subject to additional monitoring given the inherent risks associated with projects carried out abroad. Contact Regnier Jurado, Director of Research Management Solutions, with any questions related to foreign subawards.

“Pre-travel” guidance and electronic device guidance.
ORED has and will continue to provide pre-travel guidance to researchers traveling abroad on sponsored projects as part of the Travel Authorization (TA) process and approval conducted by ORED Post Award.  Please note that travel to sanctioned or embargoed countries and other countries with heightened security requirements require approval by the university travel committee as well additional guidance from the Export Control Liaison in the Office of Compliance.

Please note also that U.S. export control laws may restrict equipment and technology that you may take abroad, including laptops or other types of equipment.  Typically, laptops with commercial software that is available to be purchased freely in commerce such as word processing software may be taken abroad without issue, but any proprietary or encryption software may be restricted by export control laws. For Microsoft products, you can check whether a license for exporting may be needed at  Generally, if the laptop is owned by FIU and does not contain any proprietary or encryption software, you may take a laptop with you internationally without need of a government license if all the following conditions are met (known as the temporary export exemption):

1)            The laptop will be returned to the U.S. within one year of its “export” date.
2)            The laptop qualifies as a “tool of the trade” because it is a common and reasonable tool for the lawful activities and undertakings of your profession.
3)            You retain “effective control” over the laptop while abroad by either retaining physical possession of it or securing it in such an environment as a hotel safe, bonded warehouse or a locked, guarded exhibit facility.
4)            You will accompany the laptop abroad, or it will be shipped within one month before departure, or at any time after departure.
5)            You are not going to any country on the list of sanctions country of the Office of Foreign Assets Control found at

If the laptop is personally owned, and does not contain any proprietary or encryption software, you may generally take the laptop with you internationally without need of a government license if all the following conditions are met (known as the baggage exemption):

1)  You or your immediate family member personally owns the laptop
2)  The laptop is intended for and necessary and appropriate for your use or the use of your immediate family members traveling with you.
3) The laptop is not intended for sale or other disposal.

If you have any questions about whether any equipment or technology that you are planning to take abroad is restricted, please contact the Office of University Compliance and Integrity – the Office of Export Controls, at 305-348-2216 or email

Report Inventions and Intellectual Property.
Researchers are reminded to promptly report inventions and intellectual property (IP) disclosures to the Office of Technology Management and Commercialization in accordance with sponsor requirements and institutional policies and procedures.  See for further guidance.

Processes for securely hosting foreign visitors in research laboratories
ORED, in coordination with the Office of Compliance and Academic Affairs  is currently developing guidance and screening process recommendations for all foreign visitors entering research labs, including visiting faculty.

Export Control Compliance
Researchers are reminded of their continued responsibility to adhere to export control requirements as detailed in the University’s export control policies and procedures (see list of policies below) as well as any project specific Technology Control Plans (TCPs) which may be implemented for their specific projects.

Compliance with institutional reporting requirements for Report of Outside Activities  (ROA) and Conflict of Interest (COI).

The University has added a section to the ROA/COI system to capture information required by federal agencies addressing foreign influence concerns called “International Activities/Interests.”  This section must be completed annually and when there is a material change. The new section states:

“Please provide the following information relating to any international affiliations, activities or interests which you have. When reporting the information below, do not limit your responses only to affiliations, interests or collaborations relating to this specific disclosure or any current research that you are performing or proposing to perform.  Rather, report any international affiliations, activities or interests whether or not they are related to this specific disclosure or any of your current or proposed research activities.

Do you have any appointments, affiliations, activities, interests or collaborative projects (whether paid or unpaid and even if described as honorary, courtesy, adjunct or other similar description) with any foreign university or other foreign entity or foreign government, including any involvement in any talent programs (e.g., programs in which you have been recruited by a foreign university, entity or government)? If yes, please provide the details in the comment box, including the name of the foreign university, entity or government involved as well as the talent recruitment program involved, if any, and the nature of the appointment, affiliation, activities, interests or collaborative project.   

If you do not have any of the above appointments, affiliations, activities, interests or collaborative project, check here: ____”

Please note that it remains the researcher’s responsibility to accurately report outside activities and conflicts of interest in accordance with University reporting requirements.

Publications and Presentations
Researchers should be cognizant to accurately disclose author institutional affiliations, conflicts of interest and research support per journal guidelines for publications and presentations. Submitting accurate information with manuscripts limits discrepancies between Other Support disclosed in proposal applications and research support, affiliations and conflicts of interest printed in a publication journal.

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

OSTP Guidelines for Federal Research Agencies Regarding Foreign Talent Recruitment Programs

Definition of Foreign Talent Recruitment Program Section 10631 of the Act requires that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in consultation with the Subcommittee on Research Security of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), establish a definition for a foreign talent recruitment program. As such the following definition is provided:

A foreign talent recruitment program is any program, position, or activity that includes compensation in the form of cash, in-kind compensation, including research funding, promised future compensation, complimentary foreign travel, things of non de minimis value, honorific titles, career advancement opportunities, or other types of remuneration or consideration directly provided by a foreign country at any level (national, provincial, or local) or their designee, or an entity based in, funded by, or affiliated with a foreign country, whether or not directly sponsored by the foreign country, to an individual, whether directly or indirectly stated in the arrangement, contract, or other documentation at issue.

Consistent with Section 10632(d) of the Act, a foreign talent recruitment program does not include the following international collaboration activities, so long as the activity is not funded, organized, or managed by an academic institution or a foreign talent recruitment program on the lists developed under paragraphs (8) and (9) of Section 1286(c) of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (10 U.S.C. 4001 note; Public Law 115-232):

  1. Making scholarly presentations and publishing written materials regarding scientific information not otherwise controlled under current law;
  2. Participating in international conferences or other international exchanges, research projects or programs that involve open and reciprocal exchange of scientific information, and which are
    aimed at advancing international scientific understanding and not otherwise controlled under current law;
  3. Advising a foreign student enrolled at an institution of higher education or writing a recommendation for such a student, at such student’s request; and
  4. Engaging in the following international activities:
  1. Activities that are partly sponsored or otherwise supported by the United States such as serving as a government appointee to the board of a joint scientific fund (e.g., the U.S. Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation); providing advice to or otherwise participating in international technical organizations, multilateral scientific organizations, and standards setting bodies (e.g., the International Telecommunications Union, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, etc.); participating in a Fulbright Commission program funded in whole or in part by a host country government; or other routine international scientific exchanges and interactions such as providing invited lectures or participating in international peer review panels.
  2. Involvement in national or international academies or professional societies that produce publications in the open scientific literature that are not in conflict with the interests of the federal research agency (e.g., membership in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences or The Royal Society).
  3. Taking a sabbatical, serving as a visiting scholar, or engaging in continuing education activities such as receiving a doctorate or professional certification at an institution of higher education (e.g., the University of Oxford, McGill University) that are not in conflict with the interests of the federal research agency.
  4. Receiving awards for research and development which serve to enhance the prestige of the federal research agency (e.g., the Nobel Prize).
  5. Other international activities determined appropriate by the federal research agency head or designee.

Definition of Malign Foreign Talent Recruitment Program (As defined by Section 10638(4) of the Act)
“A malign foreign talent recruitment program is:

  1. any program, position, or activity that includes compensation in the form of cash, in-kind compensation, including research funding, promised future compensation, complimentary foreign travel, things of non de minimis value, honorific titles, career advancement opportunities, or other types of remuneration or consideration directly provided by a foreign country at any level (national, provincial, or local) or their designee, or an entity based in, funded by, or affiliated with a foreign country, whether or not directly sponsored by the foreign country, to the targeted individual, whether directly or indirectly stated in the arrangement, contract, or other documentation at issue, in exchange for the individual—…” click to read more

FIU–Relevant University Policies

Conflict of Interest Policy # 1710.075

Conflict of Interest in Research Policy # 2370.005

Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity Policy # 320.020

Export Controls Policy # 2370.010

Identification of Special Handling Requirements for Proposals Policy # 2320.045

Subcontract Preparation and Payment to Subcontractors on Sponsored Projects Policy # 2350.090

Effort Reporting and Certification Policy # 2330.020

Inventions and Patents Policy # 2390.001