OSTP Releases Long-Awaited National Security Strategy Guidance For Federally-Funded Research | Epstein Becker & Green
On January 4, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released long-awaited guidance for federal agencies to implement Presidential National Security Memorandum (NSPM) -33. Encouraging an approach that balances research safety with continuous scientific innovation, the guide emphasizes consistency of requirements, transparency regarding these requirements and collective accountability between researchers, recipient institutions and funding agencies. to meet these requirements.
NSPM-33, released during the last week of the Trump administration, outlined steps the United States can take to protect intellectual capital, discourage research hijacking, and ensure responsible stewardship of money. taxpayers while maintaining an open environment to foster discovery, collaboration and innovation. The Biden administration approved the memorandum, and in August the OSTP announced that it was in the process of creating guidelines for federal agencies to implement NSPM-33 “effectively, rigorously and consistently … to a way that protects the interests of the nation both in terms of security and openness. In recent years, federal agencies have devoted significant time and effort to addressing the threat of undue foreign influence over federally-funded research and the potential theft of US intellectual property. Many agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, have recently updated their disclosure requirements in response to such concerns. The Justice Department has also prosecuted researchers and institutions for alleged non-compliance with these requirements and concealing their affiliations with foreign entities.
OSTP recognizes that compliance with NSPM-33 and relevant laws and regulations should be as straightforward and straightforward as possible for the research community and expects that standardized disclosure requirements between agencies will reduce uncertainty. and establish clear and persistent guidelines for researchers to follow.
The guidance document includes (i) general guidance that agencies should apply in their implementation efforts, and (ii) more detailed guidance in five key areas addressed in NSPM-33:
- Disclosure requirements and standardization
- Persistent Digital Identifiers (DPI)
- Consequences of violating disclosure requirements
- Information sharing
- Research security programs
It should be noted that the guidelines state that federal agencies are obligatory implement NSPM-33 in a non-discriminatory manner that does not stigmatize or unfairly treat members of the research community, including members of ethnic or racial minority groups. In addition, the guidelines state that federal agencies should:
- coordinate, through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), to ensure that the implementation of NSPM-33 is consistent across all agencies, to the extent possible and variations in the requirements of disclosure should be limited to cases (i) where required by law, (ii) when more stringent protections are necessary for the protection of research classified, export controlled or otherwise protected by law, or (iii) for other compelling reasons compatible with the authorities of each agency and coordinated by the NSTC;
- avoid taking major measures to implement NSPM-33, unless coordinated by the NSTC;
- engage with the research community throughout the implementation process (including testing, piloting and soliciting feedback) and taking into account the comments and concerns of stakeholders and the community;
- avoid retroactive application of new policies or procedures that would unnecessarily harm researchers currently funded by federal funding;
- allow the submission of the required disclosure information via a DPI service, but may also retain the ability to process a grant or cooperation agreement request without it; and
- encourage individuals to come forward and correct past omissions by ensuring that mechanisms for correcting disclosures exist, are communicated clearly, specify timelines, and are simple and straightforward.
The guidelines (i) also include a table detailing the types of activities to be disclosed by “Level I persons” (c. (Ii) provides recommendations to agencies to determine the appropriate consequences for violations of these disclosure requirements ( including the circumstances for the potential imposition of consequences on research organizations); and (iii) explains how certain research organizations (i.e.
With respect to how the government will use the disclosed information to make decisions about funding and supporting research, OSTP will address this and other issues in the future.
Next Steps: Model Prize Proposal Disclosure Forms to be Developed within 120 Days
As a next step, the OSTP has asked federal research agencies to work together over the next 120 days to develop model scholarship proposal disclosure forms and instructions that can be used (and adapted if necessary) by any federal agency. research funding. The goal of these standardized forms is to increase clarity and reduce the administrative burden on the research community by creating consistency in the form and content of disclosures required across all federal funding agencies. These templates can also provide clarity for developers who create electronic resumes and other tools to help streamline disclosure processes. Next steps also include the efforts of the NSTC Research Safety Subcommittee to develop common standards for research safety program requirements for use by federal agencies, as well as a certification process for the NSTC. A standard, centralized research security program for use by research organizations.
What stakeholders should do now
While the OSTP guidance document is primarily intended to help federal research agencies harmonize their processes, the research community should also be involved in understanding and respecting the implications of these guidance. As agencies work to develop model scholarship proposal disclosure forms, research institutions should:
- take stock of their current policies on conflicts of interest and conflicts of employment, as well as internal procedures for collecting information from researchers related to research conflicts (including, with respect to other supports, foreign relations and activities);
- assess existing lines of communication between institutional grant and contract departments and other institutional conflict disclosure processes;
- prepare the incorporation of new funding allocation forms and associated training for the research community in accordance with OSTP guidelines; and
- use this time to improve communication with the research community and to reiterate the information and educational resources available to them regarding financial disclosure issues and how to avoid undue foreign influence.