Managing International Collaborations and Affiliations

Nondiscrimination and Diversity at SJSU

SJSU is committed to maintaining a campus environment that supports the principles of equal opportunity and non-discrimination.  Furthermore, our faculty, staff, and students engage in a broad array of RSCA with a truly global reach and impact.  To that end, discrimination of any kind, including but not limited to age, ancestry, color, creed, disability, marital status, medical condition, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation is prohibited.

The President’s Statement on Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Non-Discrimination

Recently, many federal agencies have identified risks that U.S. universities may be exposed to through engagement and collaboration with international entities.  Policymakers are concerned that the diversion of intellectual property by bad actors could compromise the economic competitiveness of the United States and ultimately, national security.  This had led several federal funding agencies to either issue guidance on international collaborations and affiliations, or to clarify existing policies.  These communications are listed below. 

Foreign talent programs

While the US Federal Government has not issued an official definition of foreign talent programs, the Department of Energy issued a memo in July of 2020 [pdf] says that these programs are “generally defined as any foreign state sponsored attempt to acquire U.S.-funded scientific research through recruitment programs that target scientists, engineers, academics, researchers, and entrepreneurs of all nationalities working or educated in the United States.”

The National Science Foundation went on to define Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs [pdf] under their policy as including “[c]ompensation provided by the foreign state to the targeted individual in exchange for the individual transferring knowledge and expertise to the foreign country.  The compensation can take several forms, such as cash, research funding, honorific titles, career advancement opportunities, promised future compensation, or other types of remuneration or other considerations.”

Participation in a foreign talent program does not violate U.S. federal law, California state law, or SJSU policy.  However, the activities involved in participation can trigger many different types of disclosure obligations and can be very difficult to manage.  If you are considering participation in a foreign talent program, or are already participating in such a program, please reach out to contact Research Compliance for guidance.

Outside professional activities and intellectual property

Participation in any outside professional activity can be complicated, because the contracts that govern these activities often contain terms governing how intellectual property must be assigned.  For SJSU faculty, individual rights to intellectual property can be affected by U.S. federal laws, CSU and SJSU policies, and faculty bargaining agreements.  While the Research Compliance Unit cannot provide legal advice on contracts that are outside the scope of your university employment, we recommend discussing any contracts related to your research or academic expertise with Research Compliance and your own outside legal counsel prior to signing.

Sponsor-specific information

NIH

NIH Leadership has identified breaches of confidentiality in the peer review process and diversion of intellectual property as areas of risk for U.S.-based researchers and research institutions. These concerns have resulted in clarification of the sources and nature of other support that should be disclosed in NIH proposals.  The resources below were intended to provide guidance for investigators on how to appropriately disclose sources of research support.

Resources

August 20, 2018 “Dear Colleague” Letter from NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins [pdf]

NIH Reminders of NIH Policies on Other Support and on Policies related to Financial Conflicts of Interest and Foreign Components

NIH Grants Policy Statement: 1.2 Definition of Terms

NOT-OD-21-110 Implementation of Changes to the Biographical Sketch and Other Support Format Page

NSF

NSF has communicated concerns about the security of the U.S. research enterprise, and, in response, has clarified their disclosure expectations for grantees.  NSF has issued updated guidance for both current and pending support and the appointments that should be included in the Appointments section of the Biographical Sketch.

July 11, 2019 “Dear Colleague” Letter from NSF Director Dr. France Córdova [pdf]

Significant Changes and Clarifications to the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1) [pdf]

NASA

The NASA Grant and Cooperative Agreement Manual (GCAM) [pdf] requires investigators to certify that they are not “China or a Chinese-owned company” and that they will not “participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally 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.”  For specific guidance on this certification, please contact Research Compliance.

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy federal and contractor employees, including university staff, are prohibited from participating in certain foreign government talent recruitment programs of countries designated by the DoE as “foreign countries of risk” if they come on to a DOE site to perform R&D work.  Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea are all currently considered “foreign countries of risk,” but this designation is subject to change.

Resources   

DOE Order 486.1A:  Foreign Government Sponsored or Affiliated Activities

DOE Order 486.1A:  Frequently Asked Questions