Foreign Influence and Federal Grants

NDSU’s core values include the beliefs that we derive strength and vitality from each other and from the diverse communities we serve and as a land-grant university we are welcoming and respectful of differences in people and ideas. We are a diverse population with over 80 countries represented by our graduate students alone. Our commitment to these values is evident in our educational, research, and outreach efforts locally, in our region, our country, and the world. 

As federal agencies work to update regulations and requirements related to foreign influence in the scientific process, there may be changes to agency grant application and/or grant award processes. Review the information below to learn more about the Office of Science and Technology Policy letter to the U.S. research community and federal agency responses to the issue. 

RCA staff will work to keep researchers informed of these changes and potential impacts to research funding as we are made aware. One step you can take now is to report foreign affiliations in your research activities to NDSU Research Compliance Administrator Julie Sherwood to ensure against potential conflicts of interest. 


Office of Science and Technology Policy Letter
Over the last two years, there has been an increasing concern at the federal level regarding foreign influence in scientific research. Recently, a Dear Colleague letter to all U.S. researchers was released by Kevin Droegemeier, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It establishes four areas of effort:

  • Coordinating outreach and engagement
  • Establishing and coordinating disclosure requirements
  • Developing best practices for academic research institutions
  • Developing methods for identification, assessment, and management of risk

Read full letter


Federal Agency Responses

While Federal agencies are responding to these concerns and have implemented some changes to begin to address them, it is not yet clear what the final outcome will be. Some federal agencies have sent "Dear Colleague" letters outlining their initial efforts to address these concerns.


If you have questions about federal agency responses to foreign influence in the areas below, contact links are provided:

Grant Proposals
Contact: Val Kettner, Sponsored Programs Administration
Investigators are responsible for including information about any foreign support consistent with the funding agency requirements in their sponsored projects documents. If you have any questions about specific requirements for inclusion of foreign support in external proposal documents, please contact the SPA team.

Conflict of Interest
Contact: Julie SherwoodResearch Compliance Administrator
Conflicts of interest in research are situations in which financial or other personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an investigator's judgement in conducting or reporting research.

International Travel
Contact: Sharon May, Export Controls
When traveling abroad there are three basic questions to consider when determining if export controls apply: Where are you going? What are you taking with you? What are you doing and who will you be interacting with? In general, travel to most countries is not a problem. 

International Collaborations
Contact: Sharon May, Export Controls
In general, collaborations between university personnel and scholars at foreign institutions or organizations do not require export licenses (which are prior approvals from the government that allow participation of foreign national faculty, staff, or students to be involved in research) unless they involve export controlled or restricted research or involve scholars in sanctioned countries. Before engaging in an international collaboration, the Office of Export Controls will determine if export licenses are required and verify that the foreign individual and/or organization are not blocked or sanctioned entities.

Export Controls
Contact: Sharon May, Export Controls
Export Controls are federal laws and regulations that govern the transfer of goods, technologies, related technical data, and some services and money. They are intended to protect national security, economic interests and foreign policy of the United States. While these laws are not new, they have received more attention post 9/11. Today, as global threats increase, there are heightened concerns about national security and stricter interpretation and enforcement of export control laws by the federal government.

Invention Disclosures
Contact: Jolynne Tschetter, Industry Engagement & Intellectual Property
Inventions, discoveries and emerging technologies are flowing through the innovation pipeline at NDSU. The office of Industry Engagement and Intellectual Property (IEIP) works with the NDSU Research Foundation (NDSURF) to protect and promote these inventions and the intellectual property (IP) rights therein.


NDSU Policies
To ensure that all potential conflicts of interest are reported and managed, researchers must disclose their activities in accordance with these NDSU policies

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