House Subcommittees Hold Hearing on Balancing Open Science and U.S. Research Security
On October 5, the Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight and Subcommittee on Research & Technology within the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST) held a joint hearing focused on maintaining the critical balance between securing the U.S. research enterprise and openness and international collaboration, especially concerning the requirements facing foreign scientists who perform research at U.S. institutions. Witnesses included Co-Chair of the National Science, Technology, and Security Roundtable at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Dr. Maria Zuber; Director of Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Candice Wright; Inspector General of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Allison Lerner; and Professor of Physics at Temple University Dr. Xiaoxing Xi.
Investigations and Oversight Chair Bill Foster (D-IL), Ranking Member Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Research and Technology Chair Haley Stevens (D-MI), and Ranking Member Michael Waltz (R-FL) all acknowledged the risks of illegal research activities including espionage by geopolitical rivals such as China yet asserted the importance of protecting the rights of foreign scientists working in the U.S. and making the U.S. an attractive place to perform research for foreign scientists. Much of the discussion was dedicated to clarifying the procedures for researchers in the U.S. regarding propriety of foreign collaborations, including harmonizing disclosure requirements across federal agencies and simplifying the disclosure process. Another major topic of discussion was the role of law enforcement agencies and past incidents of wrongful arrests of Chinese-born scientists, including Dr. Xi, and necessary changes that should be made to protect researchers from racial profiling (more background on racial profiling concerns can be read in a previous COSSA Hot Topic).
Witness testimonies and a recording of the hearing are available on the SST Committee website.