Skip to Content Options:

Non-Domestic Influence – Frequently Asked Questions

Undisclosed working relationships between scholars in U.S. institutions and non-domestic entities (e.g., universities, companies, and governments) have increasingly been of concern to American science agencies.  Disclosure requirements by agency, including examples of what must be included, can be found on the Current and Pending/Other Support Requirements by Sponsor webpage and a guide to common disclosures required for sponsored research can be found on the Resources for Faculty Disclosures page.  If you have questions about disclosures for a specific project, please reach out to your assigned team in the Office of Sponsored Programs at the proposal or negotiation stage or to CGA's Awards Group ( at the award stage.  Questions as they overlap with the Faculty Conflict of Interest Disclosure form should be directed to

Additional information and resources related to emerging federal guidelines can be found on MSU's Emerging Federal Guidance on Outside Influence webpage. Further guidance and communications can be found on the Research Security Program webpage.


Non-Domestic Influence – Frequently Asked Questions

(Adapted for MSU from guidance developed by the University of Maryland Division of Research and by the University of Minnesota's Research & Innovation Office)

Expand/Collapse All

"Non-domestic" refers to all countries except the U.S. and its territories.

The U.S. Government’s main concerns include but are not limited to:

  • Failures to disclose:
    • Financial conflicts of interest
    • Conflicts of commitment
    • External employment arrangements
    • Financial support that overlaps with U.S. funding
    • Shadow laboratories or other parallel research activities
    • Participation in “talent programs” sponsored by non-domestic entities
  • Peer review violations
  • Theft or diversion of materials/confidential information and/or intellectual capital/property/attribution
  • Non-compliance with export-control laws and regulations
  • Failure to report non-domestic gifts and contracts to the Department of Education (i.e. Section 117 reporting) 

It depends on the funding agency. The NIH has publicly disclosed that they are reviewing publications for additional collaborators or funding sources and then cross-referencing that information with what was disclosed in the NIH proposal. This information is then used for additional inquiries. NIH is not discouraging international collaborations or other sources of funding, but the Principal Investigator must be transparent with all required information at the time of the proposal. There are also reports of examples where the FBI is reporting information on participation in non-domestic government sponsored talent programs to the funding agencies.

Participation in an international talent recruitment program (TRP) can involve risks that warrant careful consideration, mitigation, and in some cases, complete avoidance.  Congress, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other government organizations view aspects of certain TRPs as threats to the integrity and security of the national research enterprise.  The CHIPS and Science Act (the C&S ACt) directs federal research sponsors to maintain policies that-

  • require covered individuals to disclose all participation in TRPs, and 
  • prohibit recipients of federal support from participating in any "malign" TRPs.

The National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and other agencies are rolling these policies out in 2023, 2024, and 2025. (A notable exception is the Department of Energy, which has tightly restricted talent program participation since 2019 with DoE Order 486.1A (updated 2020)).

Please contact with specific questions about talent programs, relevant University policies, and related federal government rules and expectations.

Any support from or involvement in such a program must be disclosed both to the University and to U.S. funding agencies for any active awards or within proposal submissions. Many agencies require investigators to certify that they are not participating in “Malign Foreign Talent Recruitment Programs”.  The C&S Act provides a definition of MFTRP–essentially a talent program requiring one or more problematic actions and having problematic sponsorship. A detailed approach to the definition is available here.

The Department of Defense lists referenced in the last part of the MFTRP definition are available here.

Please note that faculty are not authorized to sign contracts relating to University work or University resources. If you are presented with a contract involving MSU or your work at MSU, please work with your departmental administrator for routing and submission to the Office of Sponsored Programs.  If you are presented with a contract outside of your MSU appointment, please confirm you are following all institutional policies, such as, Outside Work for Pay, Dual Appointments, Financial Conflicts of Interest, and Intellectual Property.  Also, ensure sponsor regulations have been followed, such as disclosing research activities, providing proper attribution, and following confidentiality requirements.

Please see the Foreign Talent Recruitment Programs webpage for more information.

Additional resources:

Disclosure and transparency are paramount not only to federal agencies, but also to the University, via the University’s Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment processes.  A guide to common disclosures required for sponsored research can be found on the Resources for Faculty Disclosures page. 

Full and timely disclosure regarding research support and conflicts of interest is essential to the transparency the government requires and MSU expects.  Currently the University requires all faculty to:

  • Complete a Conflict of Interest disclosure at the time a new grant proposal is submitted, and at least annually
  • Complete the Outside Work for Pay disclosure and approval process, as required by policy
  • Fully and accurately complete all funding agency questions regarding any current and pending requests for financial support

Investigators and named Key Personnel must disclose any activities supported by non-domestic entities in federal grant applications and during awards.  Specific requirements can vary by agency.  For more information, please refer to the Current and Pending/Other Support Requirements by Sponsor webpage and the Office of Research and Innovation’s webpage on Emerging Federal Guidance on Outside Influence.  The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) can assist you by reviewing proposed agreements with foreign universities, governmental entities, and businesses in order to identify potentially problematic terms, and will coordinate with other University offices as needed to protect you and the University.

The following are suggestions that a researcher may consider if they have sensitive research data that requires additional protections:

  • Work with MSU Technologies to determine whether a non-disclosure agreement, material transfer agreement, data use agreement, or intellectual property agreement should be established.
  • Limit datasets and analysis to a need-to-know basis for all lab personnel.
  • Utilize secure data storage systems that limit who has download rights and logs all downloading of files.
  • Disclose inventions to MSU Technologies as soon as possible.
  • Avoid bringing your laptop or sensitive research data with you when traveling internationally.
  • Follow agency guidance for reviewers. Many agencies have policies in place to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the Peer Review process.
  • Follow guidelines for ethical Peer Review of journal articles.

For up-to-date information and contacts, we recommend you review the information available on the Office of General Counsel’s webpage.  Guidance that may apply to sponsored programs-related issues is summarized below (information is current as of November 2021):

  • Do not provide any personally identifiable information including addresses and phone numbers for students, faculty, or staff.  To do so without a court order could violate State or Federal law.  Please refer the agent to the Office of General Counsel if they request information on any University faculty, staff, students, or any visiting scholar or collaborator. 
  • If the agent presents a warrant, subpoena, court order, national security letter, or other legal document addressed to the University or that describes University property, immediately contact  the Office of General Counsel.
  • A search warrant can require immediate action (as opposed to a subpoena or other document that provides a date by which the University must comply). If you are served with a search warrant, upon you or your immediately available supervisor being satisfied that the officer is an authorized representative of the identified law enforcement agency, cooperate in providing the documents and/or things which are sought.  As soon as possible, you or your supervisor should inform an attorney in the Office of General Counsel regarding the matter.  If the search warrant is for University property, a University representative should be present during the search. The Office of General Counsel represents the University, including all faculty and staff acting within the scope of their employment.

If an agent presents a search warrant or other legal document addressed to you and describing your personal property, you are encouraged to contact your personal attorney.

Suspected unethical conduct can be reported to the Research Integrity Officer, or reports can be made anonymously to MSU’s Misconduct Hotline.

For suspected illegal conduct, please contact the MSU Police.

University Communications has sole responsibility for issuing official statements to media representing MSU and its units, and the University’s spokesperson and deputy spokesperson are uniquely authorized to speak on behalf of the institution.

While any employee is free to work with media on a story, we encourage those asked to provide comment beyond their areas of professional work, academic expertise or research and scholarly activity to contact University Communications at (517) 355-7505 or for assistance.

The rules, policies, and regulations related to disclosure of non-domestic activities can be very complex and are subject to frequent changes.  Therefore, it is possible that you could inadvertently make a mistake. 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 reduce the severity of the consequences.  Please check with your OSP Proposal Team if you need to make corrections to a grant application, or with the CGA Awards Group if post-award corrections are needed.

Site Management