UW Research

Foreign Interests in Sponsored Programs

Our Commitment to Collaboration

The University of Washington is committed to international collaborative research, with partnerships and projects in over 130 countries. Our track record of collaborative research, coupled with strong individual research groups has kept the UW globally competitive and provided us opportunities critical to advancing science and to solving society’s most pressing issues. The quality of our researchers and students make the UW a leader in funding, quality and impact.

Our Commitment to Compliance

Our collaborative approach is one of our principal values, but it can expose us to foreign influence security risks and to those who would seek to exploit U.S. academic institutions, as evidenced by recently disclosed cases of academic espionage at several U. S. universities. We are dedicated to complying with all U.S. regulations governing international research collaborations, with the goal of mitigating our inherent vulnerabilities as an academic institution to ongoing and emerging threats to our national security, while preserving our ability to engage internationally.

Our Commitment to Our Researchers

We have been providing regular guidance and resources including requirements for disclosure of all foreign collaborations. Review the announcements on the Research home page. We expect ongoing guidance from the NIH and other federal agencies to evolve. In conjunction with the Faculty Council on Research and the Research Advisory Board, we will be looking at how the UW, with our peers, define collaboration and how we can adapt research policy to this new understanding.

Foreign Interests in Sponsored Programs: What You Need to Know

As many of you are aware, there has been recent press and activities around national security with higher education and research organizations, including concern voiced about foreign threats to U.S. intellectual property as well as integrity of federally funded research endeavors. As a result, federal sponsors are developing and rolling out guidance intended to mitigate these risks.

Information and guidance from select sponsors is collected here for reference. We will provide updates as they become available. Other federal sponsors may have different requirements. Please check specific funding opportunity announcements and relevant agency grant policies for individual applications.

For additional guidance, view our video, Foreign Influence and Sponsored Research.

Reporting Current and Pending or Other Support

UW researchers whose research is supported with federal funding should update and maintain their current and pending or other support documentation. Make sure to include all sources of support, foreign or domestic, including scholarships or fellowships.

When in doubt, err on the side of inclusion when completing Current and Pending or Other Support documentation. Inform yourself of all sponsor requirements and follow all directions for content and format.

Review more information for some of our major federal sponsors on the Current and Pending or Other Support page.

Foreign Talent Programs

Foreign talent programs are defined as “any foreign-state-sponsored attempt to acquire US 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”  (see Department of Energy (DOE) Order 486.1).

Most of the federal government’s attention has focused on programs originating in China, but talent programs have also been associated with other governments.

There is no particular formula or format for these programs and each one can be unique.Typically  the entity reaches out to an investigator directly via email, letter, contract, application, or some other invitation to join.

The invitation to join the program will contain “opportunities” such as a faculty appointment at a foreign university or institute, funding, resources, space, or other enticements to become affiliated with the talent program. In return, there is often an obligation for the  investigator to provide research results, data, technology, or information from other funded research programs.

Unless the sponsor  prohibits involvement in a foreign talent program (such as the Dept. of Energy), any involvement in these  programs must be reported in Current and Pending Support or Other Support.

Some sponsors prohibit involvement in a Foreign Talent Program in order to receive federal funding.

Department of Energy

DOE does not allow participation in foreign talent programs by its employees as well as any contractor personnel.

While the DOE policy does not specify grant recipients or individuals funded under cooperative agreements at this time, a division of DOE can choose to include this  prohibition in the award terms and conditions.

Researchers who wish to seek funding from DOE and who are affiliated with  this type of  program must discontinue their  association with the talent program before they can receive DOE funding.

Review more on DOE Guidance

  • DOE current requirements and guidance on this ban
  • Specific DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for current and pending support requirements

DOE will also be maintaining a list of foreign talent programs that fall under this ban.

Visiting Scholars and Sponsored Programs

A visiting scholar, in this context, is a foreign visiting graduate student, postdoc, or faculty member who will contribute in any way to the research set out in the scope of work.

Proposals/Just-in-Time

Visiting Scholar as Key Personnel

Visiting scholars (students, postdocs and faculty) must  provide Current and Pending or Other Support documentation if the sponsor requires it or if they meet the definition of a key personnel.

Visiting Scholar as a form of “Other Support” for PI

Documentation must also be provided if the visiting scholar is not considered key personnel, but is:

  •  Participating in research efforts within the lab, and
  •  Not paid through the UW,  and
  •  Supported through scholarships, through an appointment at another university, an affiliation with an outside entity, or provides experimental materials to the research

On Projects

The Principal Investigator (PI) does not need to receive prior approval for a visiting scholar (student, postdoc or faculty) to work on a project in the United States, such as a UW lab on campus, however:

  • Report all participants on a project in the progress report whether or not they are paid from the project. This section also requests whether the individual’s primary affiliation is with a foreign organization.
  • Visiting scholars who qualify as Senior/Key Personnel need to submit their Biosketches and Other Support in the “Personnel Updates” section of the RPPR, if this wasn’t submitted previously.
  • U.S. government prior approval may be required for visiting scholars who are members of a foreign military or space organization.  This may also apply to any visiting scholars who are assisting a foreign government with military or space technology.
  • Visiting scholars that arrive from institutions debarred by the U. S. government must only be exposed to public domain technology and the results of fundamental research which is defined as research results which are intended for publication/wide dissemination. Examples of debarred entities include:
    • Beihang University (aka Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics [BUAA])
    • Harbin Institute of Technology/Harbin Engineering University (China)
    • National University of Defense Technology (China)
    • Northwest Polytechnical University (China)
    • Sichuan University
    • University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC)

Foreign Components National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Prior approval is required before adding a foreign component to an NIH project. This is not a new requirement.

NIH defines foreign component as the performance of any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States either by the recipient or a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended.

As with any other significant change to a project, send your request to add a foreign component via OSP as a concurrence request.

Foreign Component Examples:

  • Involvement of humans or animals at a foreign site
  • Extensive foreign travel by grantee project staff for activities that support the project such as collecting data, surveys, samples or similar activities
  • Any activity of the grantee or foreign researcher affiliated with the project that may have an impact on U.S. foreign policy through involvement in the affairs or environment of a foreign country
  • Collaborations with investigators at a foreign site anticipated to result in co-authorship
  • Use of facilities or instrumentation at a foreign site; or receipt of financial support or resources from a foreign entity

Activity conducted within the U.S. that involves non-U.S. resource support is NOT considered a “foreign component” such as:

  • Foreign travel for consultation
  • A visiting scholar working in a U.S. lab/site on the NIH project

Financial Interests Received from Foreign Institutions

With respect to disclosing financial interests for conflict of interest review, you are not required to disclose the following domestic sources of income (also see GIM 10):

  • Income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by the University, a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of Higher Education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of Higher Education; or
  • Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for the University, a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of Higher Education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of Higher Education.

NIH has reminded the research community that these exclusions are limited to U.S. Institutions of higher education or a federal, state, or local government agency within the U.S. Therefore, all financial interests, including those received for the activities excluded in the U.S., must be disclosed if they are from a foreign institution of higher education or the government of another country.

  • For UW research, disclose financial interests under procedures outlined in GIM 10.
  • Not all financial interests are Significant Financial Interests (SFI). Significant Financial Interest is defined in GIM 10. It is broad, and includes forms of compensation, equity, sponsored/reimbursed travel, and intellectual property.
  • Disclose both foreign financial interests and any other Significant Financial Interests in FIDS.
  • While the UW does not require, and may not review, disclosures of financial interests not meeting the SFI standard, Investigators are encouraged to disclose all foreign financial interests.  When in doubt – DISCLOSE.

The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations establishes standards on Promoting Objectivity in Research for institutions that receive Public Health Services funding from a grant or cooperative agreement.

Other Notes on Biosketches, Progress Reports, and Significant Financial Interests (SFI)

  • Biosketches should be current and thorough.
  • Progress Reports:
    • Key personnel should indicate any change in support that occurred over the last budget year.
    • Individuals whose primary affiliation is foreign who participate on a U.S. project must be disclosed in the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Section D, Participants.
    • Foreign support provided to an individual who is participating in a substantive manner on the NIH project should report this as Other Support in the RPPR, Section D.2, Personnel Updates.
  • SFI disclosures need to occur at time of proposal, within 30-days of joining ongoing research, annually, and within 30-days of acquiring any new or increased SFI. Please see:

NIH and NSF Guidance

Outside Professional Work for Compensation

Approval for outside work relationships with external entities, including foreign entities and governments must be requested in advance as described in:

Intellectual Property and Inventions

Promptly report all inventions:

  • To CoMotion, the University’s technology transfer office
  • To federal sponsors as part of progress reporting

Researchers must take reasonable efforts to protect the University’s interest (and, in the case of federally-sponsored research, the federal government’s interest) in intellectual property developed in the course of their UW research.

Intellectual property developed under a sponsored research agreement is subject to the University’s policy on UW IP Disposition in Sponsored Program Agreements.

Peer Review

Individuals serving on NIH, NSF or other federal agency scientific peer review panels should note and comply with all requirements to maintain the confidentiality of the information in research grant applications.  There have been recent documented cases nationally of peer reviewers sharing information in grant applications outside of the peer review process. This is not allowed.

Contracts, including Purchasing Activity, with Certain Foreign Entities

The federal government, through executive order, law, regulations, sanctions and other limitations, restricts or prohibits transacting with certain entities, including  Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, or Dahua Technology Company (or any subsidiary or affiliate).

In keeping with this prohibition, UW is not entering into transactions with the above entities or other entities known to be indicted for crimes that threaten US intellectual property or economic wellbeing. This prohibition is in addition to individuals or entities that are debarred, suspended or otherwise ineligible from receiving federal funding. Review examples of foreign universities that have been debarred in the On Projects section.