Reporting of International Activity to the Federal Government
TO: All Faculty, Deans, Directors, and Chairpersons
FROM: Douglas A. Gage, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Innovation
SUBJECT: Reporting of International Activity to the Federal Government
DATE: September 11, 2023
Michigan State University (MSU) remains committed to global engagement and supporting international collaborations. At the same time, research security continues to be a high priority for federal funding agencies. To make sure these commitments and priorities are aligned, please note the following recommendations:
- Keep up to date on sponsor requirements for disclosure. Following this short summary section, general guidance and resources that may be helpful are provided.
- Participation in non-domestic government-sponsored talent recruitment programs may exclude an MSU investigator from receiving awards from U.S. federal agencies. (Definition of talent recruitment programs is included in the resources below. The exclusion is connected to requirements in the Chips and Science Act of 2022.)
- Take caution before signing or agreeing to research collaborations, whether in the U.S. or non-domestic. Please remember written agreements need MSU review and/or approval to participate. Please reach out to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) or Business Connect (BC) for assistance with determining whether or not a proposal or document needs review and/or approval or has research security concerns.
- MSU is aware of international government agencies that have published solicitations requiring U.S. Federal Government funding to engage in an unfunded collaboration between the MSU investigator and investigator in another country. If you are approached to participate in such a collaboration, please reach out to OSP for assistance with steps that should be considered and/or taken prior to a decision on participation.
Disclosure and research security requirements are still evolving. Additional communications will be sent to alert MSU faculty to significant changes in the general guidance. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Office of Research and Innovation if you have any questions about these issues. Please see the Contact section below for names and email addresses (near the end of the document).
Commitment, guidance, and resources:
Importance of international collaborations:
As previously communicated by the Office of Research and Innovation, MSU greatly values its international collaborators and inter-institutional affiliations as an important part of MSU’s overall mission. Preservation of international relationships will be facilitated by MSU’s careful attention to federal requirements for transparency in research and related activity. Disclosure remains the best means to remain compliant with federal regulations and protect your ability to pursue your international research activities.
Federal agencies have communicated concerns about undisclosed outside appointments and other research activities with non-domestic entities. When submitting federal proposals and progress reports, it is critical that you disclose all resources, appointments, and activities related to your research endeavors in the appropriate sections of the submission. The activity should be disclosed when you are submitting directly to federal agencies or are a subawardee on a prime federal proposal or award (e.g., another university receives a grant from NSF and the university is providing the subaward to MSU out of that award).
Federal agencies are still working toward streamlining their disclosure requirements. The next section provides general guidance on disclosure. Requirements may change over time and vary by federal agency.
The Current and Pending (C&P)/Other Support Forms submitted for federal agency funding should generally include the items identified below (some variation by agency). In order to keep this list somewhat brief, later in the resources section, reference links are included for more agency-specific clarification (and the three referenced Disclosure Tables are particularly helpful). Please be aware that similar expectations to what is required in the proposal/just-in-time stage may also be required at the annual progress report stage, e.g., when submitting the NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR).
- All ongoing projects and awards, and proposals currently under consideration. This includes:
- Pending applications/proposals and funded projects and awards that you participate in, whether or not they were routed through MSU’s research administration system.
- Proposals and awards for MSU internal research grant programs.
- Research conducted during the summer semester for faculty members with an Academic Year appointment, regardless of whether or not remuneration is received.
- Any consulting activities that involve conducting research, regardless of whether or not remuneration is received.
- Participation in a non-domestic (“foreign”) talent or similar recruitment program(s). Definition of “Foreign government-sponsored talent recruitment programs” (copied from NSPM-33 Implementation Guidance):
- “Effort organized, managed, or funded by a foreign government, or a foreign government instrumentality or entity, to recruit science and technology professionals or students (regardless of citizenship or national origin, or whether having a full-time or part-time position). Some foreign government-sponsored talent recruitment programs operate with the intent to import or otherwise acquire from abroad, sometimes through illicit means, proprietary technology or software, unpublished data and methods, and intellectual property to further the military modernization goals and/or economic goals of a foreign government. Many, but not all, programs aim to incentivize the targeted individual to relocate physically to the foreign state for the above purpose. Some programs allow for or encourage continued employment at United States research facilities or receipt of Federal research funds while concurrently working at and/or receiving compensation from a foreign institution, and some direct participants not to disclose their participation to United States entities. Compensation could take many forms including cash, research funding, complimentary foreign travel, honorific titles, career advancement opportunities, promised future compensation, or other types of remuneration or consideration, including in-kind compensation.”
- Financial support for research-related activities/resources, such as laboratory personnel, travel, living expenses, etc. (Please note support for travel to a workshop or conference is exempt from reporting in most situations. Please see the appropriate Disclosure Table in the Resources for agency-specific information section below for more information.)
- High-value materials that are not freely available (e.g., biologics, chemicals, model systems, technology, etc. that are not freely available).
- New or existing start-up packages from entities other than MSU, even if the research will be carried out at another institution.
- New or existing collaborations with other researchers outside of MSU that directly benefit your research endeavors (e.g., co-authorship, transfer of materials, sharing data, etc.).
- In-kind contributions (e.g., non-MSU supported office/lab space, equipment, supplies, or staff/students). In-kind support is an example of where agencies differ in their direction. Generally during the proposal or Just-In-Time phase:
- If the in-kind contribution will be used for the project being proposed (or to be funded), it should be disclosed in the Facilities and Other Resources section of that funding application and does not need to be disclosed in the C&P/Other Support form for that application.
- If the in-kind resource will not be used for the project being proposed (or to be funded), then it should be reported in the C&P/Other Support form for that application.
- Documentation requirement: For NIH, supporting documentation including, “…copies of contracts specific to senior/key personnel foreign appointments and/or employment with a foreign institution for all foreign activities and resources that are reported in Other Support,” must be provided with the Other Support submission. Copies must be in English. For most NIH institutes and centers, the copy of contracts requirement was effective January 25, 2022.
Include all positions and scientific appointments (domestic and non-domestic), including:
- Affiliations with entities or governments, such as titled academic, professional, or institutional appointments:
- Whether or not remuneration is received
- Regardless of full-time, part-time, or voluntary
- Including adjunct, visiting, or honorary
Non-domestic components termed by NIH as “Foreign Components”:
NIH requires non-domestic components be disclosed within an application, and if considering adding a “foreign component” to an existing NIH award, prior approval must be requested and obtained. NIH defines “foreign components” as “any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended." For additional guidance on what is considered “significant” see NIH’s FAQs on Foreign Components.
Resources for agency-specific information, please visit:
- Requirements by Sponsor webpages (MSU summaries):
- Direct links for frequently used MSU-provided information include:
- Direct links for sponsor-provided resources are:
What are my options if I discover that I have made a mistake?
The rules, policies, and regulations related to disclosure of non-domestic activities can be very complex and have changed. Therefore, it is possible that inadvertently a mistake could be made. It is often the case that disclosing a mistake voluntarily and taking corrective action (as opposed to waiting for it to be discovered by others), can eliminate, or minimize impacts. If you realize that you have made a mistake, please use the contacts identified below to pursue corrections.
Contacts - for general questions, new applications, progress reports, and corrections:
We are happy to answer your questions or provide clarification to support compliance with these requirements. If you have questions related to disclosures on applications or just-in-time (JIT) requests, please contact the appropriate Proposal Team in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) . For questions related to progress reports (e.g., RPPR), please contact the Cash Management group in Contract and Grant Administration (CGA). For other questions, please contact Laura Johnston, Assistant Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs or Erin Schlicher, Projects, Data, and Training Manager, Sponsored Programs Administration.
Commitment to global engagement:
MSU is committed to global engagement and supporting international collaborations, and the University is also obligated to requirements for transparency and disclosure to our federal sponsors. My office is here to assist you in any way we can. Contacts are identified in the preceding paragraph.