US universities to fight bill targeting foreign gifts to faculty

Attention all research faculty and staff: that birthday present from your uncle in France must be reported to the office of sponsored research. And, by the way, the details may become public, writes Jeffrey Mervis for Science.

Senior research administrators at nearly 500 United States colleges and universities could find themselves writing such memos if Congress retains a requirement for reporting individual gifts from foreign sources that is included in a Senate version of a massive innovation bill now being negotiated by lawmakers. But higher education lobbyists, alarmed at the administrative burden and the chilling effect the provision might have on all international collaborations, are waging a last-minute fight to prevent that from happening.

The Senate provision, which has gone almost unnoticed, would require universities to collect information on “any gifts received from a foreign source [by] faculty, professional staff and others engaged in research”. The information would go into a “searchable database” the institution must create and maintain; institutions that violate the rules would be subject to fines of up to US$50,000. The provision applies to any US institution receiving more than US$5 million a year in federal research funding.
Full report on the Science site