As one of the world's leading research institutions, Princeton University is composed of talented, diverse individuals who contribute to its commitment of service to the nation and humanity. To this end, Princeton's research enterprise seeks out mutually-beneficial collaborations across the globe. Recently, U.S. government representatives on both sides of the aisle and federal law enforcement agencies have expressed growing concern about security threats posed to the United States by actors representing non-U.S. interests that they term “foreign influence”. “Foreign influence” represents a concern in different arenas of American society, including the U.S. research enterprise. Princeton recognizes that language is important, and as such, we have not internally adopted the term “foreign influence” used by the U.S. government. We instead refer to this activity as “inappropriate foreign influence”.
Many of Princeton’s major federal sponsors are issuing guidance regarding inappropriate foreign influence. Princeton has developed a set of principles designed to guide the formulation of policies that mitigate the risks arising from such inappropriate influence, while upholding the University’s core values of openness, respect and inclusion. Listed below is specific information from our major federal government sponsors. This information will be updated as required. We recommend you check back periodcally to stay informed on this topic.
The issues raising concern for agencies and federal funders can be summarized as:
- Failure to Fully Disclose Information: Failure by some researchers to fully disclose substantial resources from other organizations, including foreign governments, financial conflicts of interest, significant professional or employment-related commitments such as appointments at foreign institutions, etc. in their grant proposals or institutionally required disclosures.
- Integrity of Peer Review Process: Sharing of confidential information on grant applications by peer reviewers with unauthorized others, including foreign entities, or otherwise attempting to influence funding decisions.
- Loss of Intellectual Property (IP): A number of reported instances of unauthorized removal of data from research laboratories in the U.S. have resulted in the loss of intellectual property including, in some instances, publication of the misappropriated data before the U.S. scientists from whom it was taken were able to publish.
- Compliance with Regulatory Requirements: U.S. Export Control laws and regulations establish a set of requirements for transfer of technology and data to foreign countries and/or foreign nationals, including persons in the U.S. In addition, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) restricts interactions with individuals or entities on its Sanctions Lists.
All investigators on sponsored projects should confirm current disclosure requirements in applications to various federal agencies and, if in doubt, contact their ORPA Grant and Contract Administrator for disclosure assistance or further guidance.
- Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti issued a memorandum to members of the Princeton research community on February 8, 2019 entitled, "Disclosing All Sources of Support in Grant Applications - Information for the Princeton Research Community."
- Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti issued a memorandum to members of the Princeton research community on July 18, 2019 entitled, "Recent NIH and NSF Communications on Science and Security, Disclosures and Conflict of Interest."
- Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti and Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni issued a memorandum to the faculty on February 10, 2020 entitled, "Compliance with Disclosure Requirements."
- Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti and Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni issued a memorandum to department chairs on August 3, 2020 entitled, "Visitor Appointment Procedures."
- Elizabeth Adams recently co-authored an article for NCURA magazine entitled, "Keeping Calm and Carrying On - Developing Effective Institutional Approaches to "Foreign Influence," which appeared in their Jan/Feb 2020 issue.