Undue Foreign Influence

The U.S. government, including the federal agencies that fund much of MIT’s research, has expressed serious concerns regarding inappropriate influence by foreign entities, government, or individuals on U.S. institutions and researchers. 

Key concerns of the U.S. government regarding undue foreign influence are:

  • failure of researchers to disclose support from outside activities or foreign organizations in federal grant applications that may overlap with grant scope or over-commit researchers;
  • sharing of confidential information by researchers serving as peer reviewers of federal grant applications;
  • undisclosed significant financial conflicts of interest;
  • misappropriation or unlawful transfer of U.S. intellectual property, data, or unpublished research results;
  • unlawful transfer of research materials and samples;
  • presence of agreements with foreign entities that may impose obligations on researchers that are contrary to university policies or federal grant requirements; and
  • data security and cyberattack vulnerability.

Several federal agencies have indicated that failure to disclose foreign relationships and activities may jeopardize eligibility for future funding.

Concerns about undue foreign influence have been exacerbated by the inappropriate and intentional actions of a few. Researchers should follow institutional and federal disclosure requirements and best practices to prevent inadvertent or premature sharing of sensitive research data to foreign entities.