AAU President Barbara R. Snyder sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Education and Labor Committees expressing concern “with the potential adverse consequences of the new Higher Education Act (HEA) Section 124 reporting requirement created by Section 6124(b) of S. 1260, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA).” The provision mandates university personnel to report any gifts from, or contracts with, any foreign source and requires the establishment of a new searchable database containing information about engagements with foreign scholars or entities.
“While we agree that researchers and universities need to be transparent about foreign funding they receive, the provision as currently written would be counterproductive to both our national scientific enterprise and national security,” President Snyder said in the letter. Further, she noted, the mandate would “impose duplicative and unworkable requirements” that would discourage international collaborations instead of enhancing research security. The letter urges that Section 124 not be included in the final conference agreement at the very least without a $50,000 threshold and asks lawmakers to consider several practical questions regarding how the requirement would be implemented. Earlier this month, AAU also issued talking points (login required) on Section 124.