Foreign Engagement

Foreign engagement is of fundamental importance to UCR. Research does not arbitrarily stop at national borders; and affiliations with foreign institutions, collaborative research, and scholarly exchanges are an essential part of the academic community. UCR is proud to welcome exceptional students, faculty, and researchers from countries around the world; and we remain committed to continuing and strengthening these relationships.  We also recognize and must address the U.S. Federal Government’s increased focus on foreign involvement in U.S. university research. 

The purpose of this website is to provide guidance to the UCR community, especially to faculty who are engaged in international collaborations and scholarly activities. This is a rapidly evolving landscape. We anticipate making regular updates.

  • Response to Foreign Influence Concerns by Federal Research Sponsors

    Response to Foreign Influence Concerns by Federal Research Sponsors

    Since early 2018, various departments of the U.S. government have expressed publicly their belief that foreign entities may be using their financial support and interactions with the U.S. academic community to compromise the United States’ economic competitiveness and national security. To address these concerns, new policies and regulations have been established by federal research sponsors, and those already in existence are being more actively enforced. An area of special focus has been the disclosure of foreign involvement by individual investigators in applications for research support.

    Following are some of the recent announcements by federal sponsors concerning foreign involvement at U.S. universities:

    • National Institutes of Health:
      • On August 20, 2018, the NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, issued a letter a reminding the research community of the requirement to disclose in funding applications and progress reports "all forms of other support and financial interests, including support coming from foreign governments or other foreign entities."
      • NIH issued NIH Notice NOT-OD-19-114 in July 2019 with specific guidance on other support disclosure, and reminded NIH applicants and recipients that "other support includes all resources made available to a researcher in support of and/or related to all of their research endeavors, regardless of whether or not they have monetary value and regardless of whether they are based at the institution the researcher identifies for the current grant."
    • National Science Foundation:
      • On July 11, 2019, NSF Director, Dr. France Cordova issued a "Dear Colleagues Letter" commenting on an increase in "the scope and sophistication of the activities threatening our research community" and outlining NSF’s plans to address this situation, including a renewed effort "to ensure that existing requirements to disclose current and pending support information are known, understood, and followed."
      • In December 2019, NSF released a report entitled "Fundamental Research Security." Among other findings, this report identified "problems with respect to research transparency, lack of reciprocity in collaborations and consortia, and reporting of commitments and potential conflicts of interest." The report further recommended that failure to report commitments and potential conflicts of interest should have consequences similar to those now in place for cases of research misconduct.
    • Department of Defense:
      • The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019 stated that DOD shall "establish an initiative to work with academic support protection of intellectual property and controlled information...and to limit undue influence, including through foreign talent programs, by countries to exploit United States technology."
      • DOD issued a memo on March 20, 2019 outlined disclosure requirements for Key Personnel on research and research-related educational activities supported by DOD grants and contracts.
    • Department of Energy:
      • On June 7, 2019, DOE issued DOE Order 486.1 requiring DOE contractors to exercise due diligence to ensure that none of its employees or subcontractors "participate in a foreign government talent recruitment program of a foreign country of risk while performing work within the scope of the DOE contract." It is expected that this requirement will apply to DOE grants and cooperative agreements in the near future.
      • On December 13, 2019, DOE issued DOE Order 142.3A Chg 2 to remove an exemption from prior approval requirements for certain foreign nationals participating in DOE funded fundamental research projects at universities. The full implications of this change are not yet known, and UC Office of the President staff are currently in discussions with DOE officials. In the meantime, new awards from at least one DOE Office (Energy Efficiency & Renewal Energy) are on hold at UC campuses at the request of UCOP. We will provide additional information on this matter as soon it becomes available.
    • Department of Education:
      • Under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, universities are required to report twice each year, by foreign entity, contracts and/or gifts from a foreign source that cumulatively equal or exceed $250,000 in the calendar year. A growing number of universities, including Harvard and Yale are being investigated for failure to provide accurate reports, as described in this Department of Education bulletin and report to the U.S. Senate issued by the Department.
    • National Aeronautics and Space Administration:
      • Since 2011, NASA has prohibited the use of any its funding to enter into agreements "to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way 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." On February 27, 2020 a faculty member at the University of Tennessee Knoxville was arrested for failure to disclose his affiliation with a Chinese university
  • Information on Foreign Engagement that Must be Disclosed to Research Sponsors

    Information on Foreign Engagement that Must be Disclosed to Research Sponsors

    In compliance with individual sponsor requirements, certain collaborations and/or affiliations with foreign as well as domestic entities or individuals must be disclosed in proposals and reports. Such collaborations may include exchanges of staff, materials, data, funding, or other significant activity which could result in joint authorship.

    Failure to fully disclose foreign/domestic collaborations, affiliations, and resources in funding applications and other documents can have serious consequences, and may endanger UCR’s eligibility for future federal funding.

    When a Principal Investigator approves an eCAF and a proposal is then submitted to a federal agency, the PI is certifying that all information is complete and accurate to the best of his or her knowledge, and failure to disclose may lead to charges of providing fraudulent information. In some cases, failure to disclose has led to criminal charges against individual researchers.

    Please contact the Contract and Grant Officer assigned to your department if you have any questions on disclosure requirements. The policies of the various agencies are not consistent and are being continuously modified. The disclosure policies of some key agencies are summarized below:

    For disclosure policies of other federal research sponsors, please review the program announcements and proposal preparation guides, and contact the Contract and Grant Officer assigned to your department with any questions.

  • Information on Foreign Engagement that Must be Disclosed to UCR

    Information on Foreign Engagement that Must be Disclosed to UCR

    Conflicts of Interest
    • Principal Investigators on sponsored research agreements and others who share responsibility for the design, conduct, or reporting of research supported by the National Science Foundation and all other federal agencies other than PHS (see below), must disclose personal financial interests, both U.S. and foreign, that may reasonably appear to be affected by the work performed under the sponsored project. This includes salary, consulting payments, honoraria, royalty payments, dividends, loans from the entity, equity interests, or intellectual property interests in the form of a patent, patent application, or copyright of software assigned to any entity other than the UC Regents. 
    • Principal Investigators on sponsored research agreements and others who share responsibility for the design, conduct or reporting of research supported by the Public Health Service (including the National Institutes of Health), must disclose personal financial interests that reasonably appear to be related to their UCR responsibilities. Financial interests include income, honoraria, royalty payments for use or sale of patented or copyrighted intellectual property owned by an individual or organization other than the UC Regents, equity, and travel reimbursed by or directly purchased for the individual. While there are some exclusions for U.S. government and institutions of higher education, all financial interests in foreign institutions must be disclosed. 
    • Principal Investigators seeking research support through contracts, grants, gifts and material transfer agreements from non-governmental sources (for-profit and non-profit) and others who share responsibility for the design, conduct or reporting of the research, or who are the recipients of gifts for research, must disclose financial interests in the sponsor under State of California, UC, and UCR conflict of interest policies and procedures. This includes all foreign sponsors including governmental and non-governmental. 

    Forms, policies and procedures, and other guidance concerning disclosure of conflict of interest in research can be seen on the Office of Research Integrity website.

    Conflicts of Commitment
    • UCR faculty are required to seek prior approval for outside professional activities likely to create conflict of commitment concerns. This includes the conduct of research elsewhere, employment at another institution, and managerial or executive positions outside the University. Faculty are also expected to submit annual reports in which they disclose these kinds of activities, and any outside consulting, Board of Director memberships, industry workshops, and UC-compensated teaching above their regular course loads. (See APM 025 and 671)
    • UCR faculty are required to complete annual reports of outside professional activities, both those likely to create conflict of commitment concerns (listed above), and other activities including additional University-compensated teaching such as UNEX courses and programs, other continuing education programs run by the University, and self-supporting UC degree programs; consulting or testifying as an expert or professional witness; providing outside consulting services or referrals or engaging in professional practice as an individual or through a single-member professional corporation or sole proprietorship; serving on a board of directors outside of the University; providing or presenting a workshop for industry; or providing outside consulting or compensated professional activities performed for entities such as the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. (See APM 025 and 671)

    Reports of outside professional activities (whether compensated or uncompensated) must include all foreign and domestic activities. UC Outside Activity Tracking System (OATS) has been developed to facilitate this reporting.

  • Compliance with Export Control Regulations

    Compliance with Export Control Regulations

    Export controls impact all UCR research and non-research activities. These U.S. laws and regulations govern the conditions under which certain information, technologies, and commodities can be exported to a foreign person, entity, or country, or to a foreign national within the U.S.; they promote U.S. foreign policy objectives and national security interests. UCR is committed to complying with all U.S. export control laws. Violations of export control regulations can expose UCR as well as its faculty, staff, and students, to criminal and civil penalties.

    Examples of UCR activities that may be subject to export controls include, but are not limited to:

    • Research collaborations and agreements
    • Technology and material transfers
    • International travel for conferences, teaching, research, and other UCR business
    • Inviting and hosting visitors
    • Purchases
    • Financial transactions
    • Shipments

    The Export Control Officer within UCR's Office of Research and Economic Development provides licensing determinations and guidance to the campus community. Additional information can be found on the Export Control web page. For questions, please contact Charles E. Greer, Jr.,  Associate Vice Chancellor For Research.

  • Entering into Research and Other Agreements with Foreign Entities

    Entering into Research and Other Agreements with Foreign Entities

    Contracts and Grants

    Proposals for external support for sponsored research and other activities must be submitted to the sponsor through Sponsored Programs Administration (non-profit and government sponsors), the Corporate Sponsored Research Team in the Office of Technology Partnerships (for-profit sponsors), or the Clinical Trials unit within the office of Sponsored Programs Administration ( industry and investigator-initiated clinical trials). Information about foreign activity and potential export control issues should be noted in the eCAF. The above-named units also handle agreements for sharing of proprietary/confidential information, data use, material transfer, and other agreements with outside parties related to research that do not involve an exchange of funds.


    Gift support to UCR from foreign sources must be disclosed and accepted by University Advancement.

    Other Agreements

    Entering into other types of agreements with foreign entities also requires review. Please confer with the appropriate campus unit before initiating an agreement so that any potential issues and/or conflicts can be identified and managed.

  • Other Important Issues Related to Foreign Engagement
  • Questions and Additional Information

    Questions and Additional Information

    The UC Office of the President (UCOP) has established a website that provides additional background information, guidance, and recommendations for the UC community on foreign influence. We encourage UCR faculty, staff, trainees and students to consult this website when contemplating international involvement in research and related activities.

    The following notices have been issued by UCR and University of California leadership:

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