Langevin Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Safeguard Research from Foreign Espionage

May 30, 2019 Issues: Education

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Frank Lucas (R-OK) announced the introduction of the bipartisan Securing American Science and Technology Act of 2019 (SASTA) to address academic espionage at institutions of higher education. The bill promotes standardization of federal agency approaches to academic espionage while maintaining collaboration and a welcoming environment for foreign talent at our institutions of higher education.  

SASTA requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to establish an interagency working group of science, intelligence, and security agencies under the existing authority granted to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The group would evaluate existing mechanisms of control of federally funded research and develop a policy framework to address the security needs of agencies and federal grant recipients. SASTA also establishes a roundtable, convened by the National Academies, to facilitate an ongoing dialogue among federal science and security agencies and academia on these topics and to share best practices through public reports.  

“When I met with President Paxson earlier this month, academic espionage was a top area of mutual concern,” said Congressman Langevin, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities. “I commend her leadership and that of her peers in academia who are taking proactive steps to counter the theft of research from our universities. However, schools cannot be expected to protect themselves alone. The Securing American Science and Technology Act will better coordinate federal efforts to protect our universities while also taking steps to protect the important academic and cultural contributions that international students bring to our country.”

"Brown University applauds Congressman Langevin’s leadership in introducing The Securing American Science and Technology Act of 2019, which will provide coordination among intelligence, security, and science agencies to help protect federally funded research and development from foreign interference, cyberattacks, theft and espionage,” said Christina Paxson, President of Brown University. “The bill protects the open exchange of ideas and academic collaboration required for the scientific progress that has contributed to our country’s preeminent global position in science and technology."

“There are serious and legitimate concerns about academic espionage at our universities,” said Representative Mikie Sherrill, chairwoman of the House Science Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee. “That’s why we’re proposing a unified approach to protect research without creating overlapping or contradictory federal requirements. We have to get this right. We must protect our innovation and research while maintaining the international engagement and demonstrated value foreign students bring to our institutions of higher learning, including our universities in New Jersey.” 

“I applaud Representatives Langevin, Sherill and the other co-sponsors for this important legislation to help protect our nation’s scientific research enterprise,” said President Mary Sue Coleman of the Association of American Universities, which represents America’s leading research universities. “This legislation will advance both government and university efforts to secure our nation’s most sensitive scientific and technological advances while also ensuring that we continue to lead the world in science and innovation.”

“APLU applauds Representatives Langevin and Sherrill for introducing legislation that aims to better coordinate the federal government’s efforts to safeguard federally funded research from foreign influence, attacks, and theft,” Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson said. “The United States’ research enterprise is one of our nation’s greatest assets, which is exactly why foreign governments and individuals seek to attack and unduly influence it. Our nation’s research universities play a leading role in conducting this cutting edge research on behalf of the American people. As schools work to better safeguard their research, this bill would help direct needed coordination between federal science and security offices and universities while also taking steps to protect the open exchange of ideas and spirit of collaboration that is required for successful research.” 

The legislation has received the endorsement of Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), American Council on Education (ACE), and numerous other organizations. The full list of endorsements can be found here.