US Fundamental Research (parent: Big Issues)

Photo: Olivier Douliery / ABACA Press

The US is reevaluating the nature of fundamental research.

Congress, federal science-funding agencies, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are taking actions that have the potential to reshape the nature of US fundamental research.

What do federal policymakers need to know in order to respond constructively to efforts by foreign governments to unfairly acquire US science and technology (S&T) assets, while at the same time protecting the free and open exchange of information and international participation in the US S&T enterprise, practices that have served our country so well?

This is your one-stop-shop to learn about these issues and provide statements of fact to help inform the work of policymakers.

Help inform policymakers by contributing objective statements about fundamental research and foreign interference via this anonymous survey.

Political context

Executive Branch notices

Under Secretary for Research and Engineering of the Department of Defense (DOD) Dr. Michael Griffin’s letter to the US research community, 10/10/19

Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier’s letter to the US research community, 9/16/19

Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Dr. France Córdova’s letter to the US research community, 7/11/19

Department of Energy (DOE) directive (6/7/19) and memo (12/14/18) regarding foreign interference in US research

Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Dr. Francis Collins’ letter to the biomedical research community, 8/20/18

Reports on foreign interference from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 2018, September 2015, and June 2015

Senator Grassley's push

Sen. Grassley’s (R, IA) letter to the Comptroller General of the US at the Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Sen. Grassley’s letter to the NSF’s Dr. Córdova

NSF letter in response to Sen. Grassley

Sen. Grassley’s letter to DOD

DOD letter in response to Sen. Grassley

Sen. Grassley’s letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI

Sen. Grassley’s letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

HHS letter in response to Sen. Grassley

Sen. Grassley’s letter to the NIH’s Dr. Collins

NIH letter in response to Sen. Grassley

Nonpartisan analysis and research

Quick reads

Foreign-born students and workers in the US science and engineering enterprise – National Science Board (NSB) Science and Engineering Indicators Policy One-pager

Export controls: New challenges – Congressional Research Service In Focus

The rise of China in Science and Engineering – NSB Science and Engineering Indicators Policy One-pager

Research productivity of Chinese “Young Thousand Talents” – International Higher Education One-pager

Deep dives

Science and engineering labor force: Characteristics of foreign-born scientists and engineers – NSB Science and Engineering Indicators Special Report

Considerations for maintaining US competitiveness in quantum computing, synthetic biology, and other potentially transformational research areas – GAO Report

Fostering integrity in research – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report

Improvements needed to prevent unauthorized technology releases to foreign nationals in the US – GAO Report

Congressional hearings

Video collection

Foreign threats to taxpayer-funded research: Oversight opportunities and policy solutions – Senate Finance Committee hearing, 6/5/19

China’s non-traditional espionage against the US: The threat and potential policy responses – Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, 12/12/18

Sen. Roy Blunt (R, MO) and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins agree that while ensuring US research integrity is critical, so are diversity, inclusion, and the contributions of foreign-born researchers to US S&T – scroll to 40:36 mark

Representative Mikie Sherrill (D, NJ-11) seeks to learn from NSF Director Dr. France Córdova and NSB Chair Dr. Diane Souvaine about how to mitigate the threat of research espionage by foreign powers – exchange

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R, OH-16) and Dr. Córdova discuss how to strike the right balance regarding the protection of US research assets – exchange

Sen. Ben Sasse (R, NE) and Bill Priestap, FBI Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director, reach an understanding that many researchers who are foreign nationals from China know nothing of research espionage efforts – scroll to 1:34:55 mark

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R, TN) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D, CO) raise the issue of foreign interference in NIH research with Dr. Collins the day after he had written to more than 10,000 NIH grantee institutions about the issue – scroll to 23:07 mark

Written statements and testimony

Foreign threats to taxpayer-funded research, 6/5/19

  • Sen. Grassley (R, IA), Chair – opening statement
  • Sen. Wyden (D, OR), Ranking Member – opening statement
  • Joe W. Gray, Ph.D, Gordon Moore Endowed Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering Director, OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine, Associate Director for Biophysical Oncology, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University – written testimony
  • Captain Michael Schmoyer, Ph.D., Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security, HHS – written testimony
  • Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director, NIH – written testimony
  • Les Hollie, Chief of Investigative Operations, Office of Investigations, HHS Office of Inspector General – written testimony
  • Louis Rodi, Deputy Assistant Director, Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – written testimony

China’s non-traditional espionage against the US, 12/12/18

  • Sen. Grassley (R, IA), Chair – opening statement
  • Sen. Feinstein (D, CA), Ranking Member – opening statement
  • E.W. “Bill” Priestap, Assistant Director, Counterintelligence Division, FBI – written testimony
  • John Demers, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, DOJ – written testimony
  • Christopher Krebs, Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, DHS – written testimony
  • Peter Harrell, Adjunct Senior Fellow Energy, Economics and Security Program, Center for a New American Security – written testimony
  • Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, Heritage Foundation – written testimony, questions for the record responses
  • James Mulvenon, Ph.D., General Manager, Special Programs Division, SOS International, written testimony

Journalism and Congressional proposals

Press clips

OSTP director details R&D priorities for President Trump’s next budget request – FYI: Science policy news from AIP piece

NIH reveals its formula for tracking foreign influences – Science piece

DOE barring researchers from rival nations’ talent programs – FYI: Science policy news from AIP piece

Influential Senator asks NSF for data on threat from foreign influences – Science piece

Bipartisan bills

Securing American Science and Technology, amended to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (H.R.2500 / S.1790) as Section 1089, and modeled after H.R.3038

The Secure American Research Act of 2019, S.2133

The Office of Critical Technologies and Security Act, H.R.618 / S.29

Engage and take action!

Complete this anonymous survey so that federal policymakers become more aware of the nature of fundamental research. We will collate the results and nonpartisan, objective free-responses based on statements of fact and post them on this site so that policymakers can access expert points of view. Thank you for your efforts!