Disclosure Requirements Related to Foreign Relationships and Activities on Grants

Last updated on May 8, 2024 10 min read Proposal Submission - Disclosure Requirements Related to Foreign Relationships and Activities on Grants

Boston University encourages international research collaboration and also recognizes the importance of investigator transparency related to foreign relationships and activities. The US government’s increased focus on foreign involvement in American research has resulted in new disclosure requirements, many of which are sponsor-specific and subject to change. We will update this webpage as agency requirements evolve. For a comprehensive comparison of agency disclosure requirements you can also reference the COGR Matrix, which is updated regularly. We encourage faculty to stay abreast of current agency regulations and best practices, some of which are outlined below.

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Disclosure of foreign affiliation and activities are required at the time of proposal, usually via biosketches and other support pages, but must also be updated throughout the life of the award. Updated disclosures can be made through annual progress reports or ad hoc notifications to sponsoring agencies. Some changes require sponsor approval prior to implementation. If you have questions, contact your Sponsored Programs pre-award officer.

The disclosures described below refer to those made within project proposals and are in addition to the financial conflicts of interest (FCOI) disclosure required by the BU FCOI Policy for Research. Visit the FCOI website to learn more.

Disclosure Guidance by Agency

National Science Foundation

Effective May 20, 2024, NSF will require the use of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Common Forms for Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending (Other) Support. A chart of what to disclose and where can be found here.

For NSF proposals submitted prior to May 20, 2024, refer to this table for disclosure requirements.

Current and Pending (Other) Support: Current and pending support information must be separately provided for each individual designated as Senior Personnel on the proposal. Current and pending support includes all resources made available to an individual in support of and/or related to all their research efforts, regardless of whether they have monetary value. Current and pending support also includes in-kind contributions (such as office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, employees, students). In-kind contributions not intended for use on the project/proposal also must be reported.

Please consult the NSF FAQs Regarding Current and Pending (Other) Support.

National Institutes of Health

On April 4, 2024, NIH announced that it will adopt the NSTC Common Disclosure Forms for grant applications submitted in 2025. Below are the current NIH guidelines for Other Support and Foreign Components.

Other Support: Other support includes all resources made available to a researcher in support of and/or related to all of their research endeavors, regardless of whether or not they have monetary value and regardless of whether they are based at the institution the researcher identifies for the current grant. This includes resource and/or financial support from all foreign and domestic entities, including but not limited to, financial support for laboratory personnel, and provision of high-value materials that are not freely available (e.g., biologics, chemical, model systems, technology, etc.).

NIH has created a Foreign Interference page on their website which includes a chart for Disclosure of Pre-award and Post-award Disclosure Requirements Related to Biographical Sketch and Other Support for Sr./Key Personnel.

Foreign Components:  A foreign component is defined as “[t]he existence of any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States” and includes:

  1. Performance of work by a researcher or recipient in a foreign location, whether or not NIH grant funds are expended and/or
  2. Performance of work by a researcher in a foreign location employed or paid for by a foreign organization, whether or not NIH grant funds are expended.”

The addition of a foreign component to an ongoing NIH grant requires NIH prior approval (see: NOT-OD-19-114).

Department of Energy

DOE has stated that they are considering using the NSTC Common Forms but, due to DOE-specific statutory obligations that are not met by the forms, they do not anticipate using the exact language of the forms. DOE has not provided a timeline. Below are the current DOE guidelines.

DOE issued Financial Assistance Letter 2022-04 (FAL) on June 1, 2022, to provide information and guidance regarding current and pending support disclosures.

The focus of this FAL is to harmonize the type of information researchers disclose to DOE, but it does not mandate a specific mechanism to collect the current and pending support disclosures. Grant Officers have discretion to determine where in the application package the applicants should include the current and pending support disclosures.  However, the information may be provided in the format approved by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which may be generated by the Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv).

Current and pending support is defined under DOE as – “(a) all resources made available, or expected to be made available, to an individual in support of the individual’s RD&D efforts, regardless of (i) whether the source is foreign or domestic; (ii) whether the resource is made available through the entity applying for an award or directly to the individual; or (iii) whether the resource has monetary value; and (b) includes in-kind contributions requiring a commitment of time and directly supporting the individual’s RD&D efforts, such as the provision of office or laboratory space, equipment, supplies, employees, or students. This term has the same meaning under NSPM-33” and is inclusive of the PI, senior/key persons of the prime and subaward institutions. All involvement in foreign government-sponsored talent recruitment programs must be identified in current and pending support.

Each Current and Pending Support report must be signed and dated and include the following certification:

I, [Full Name and Title], certify to the best of my knowledge and belief that the information contained in this Current and Pending Support Disclosure Statement is true, complete, and accurate. I understand that any false, fictitious, or fraudulent information, misrepresentations, half -truths, or omissions of any material fact, may subject me to criminal, civil or administrative penalties for fraud, false statements, false claims or otherwise. (18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 and 287, and 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733 and 3801-3812). I further understand and agree that (1) the statements and representations made herein are material to DOE’s funding decision, and (2) I have a responsibility to update the disclosures during the period of performance of the award should circumstances change which impact the responses provided above.

Department of Defense

DOD anticipates adoption of the NSTC Common Forms but has not provided a timeline. Below are the current DOD guidelines.

DOD requires full disclosure of current and pending support, which includes domestic support and any foreign support or engagement, but program-specific definitions can be found in DoD Notices of Funding Opportunities.

The March 20, 2019, Under Secretary of Defense memo states:

“[A]ll new DoD Notices of Funding Opportunities (NFOs) pertaining to research and research-related educational activities shall include the following requirements:

Proposers shall submit the below information for all key personnel, whether or not the individuals’ efforts under the project are to be funded by the DoD:

  • A list of all current projects the individual is working on, in addition to any future support the individual has applied to receive, regardless of the source.
  • Title and objectives of the other research projects.
  • The percentage per year to be devoted to the other projects.
  • The total amount of support the individual is receiving in connection to each of the other research projects or will receive if other proposals are awarded.
  • Name and address of the agencies and/or other parties supporting the other research projects.
  • Period of performance for the other research projects.”

“This information will be used to support protection of intellectual property, controlled information, key personnel, and information about critical technologies relevant to national security. Additionally, this information will be used to limit undue influence, including foreign talent programs, by countries that desire to exploit United States’ technology within the DoD research, science and technology, and innovation enterprise.”


NASA is considering the adoption of the NSTC Common Forms. Below are the current NASA guidelines.

The following requirements are from the NASA Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Funding Opportunity, released February 14, 2023, and effective February 28, 2023.

Current and Pending Support

PIs and Co-PIs shall provide all ongoing and pending projects and proposals (regardless of salary support) in which they are performing or will perform any part of the work. Co-Is proposing to spend 10 percent or more of their time in any given year to the proposed effort shall provide a list of ongoing and pending projects and proposals (regardless of salary support) that require more than 10 percent of their time in any given year. Proposals do not need to include the current proposal on the list of pending proposals unless it has been submitted in response to another federal funding opportunity (i.e., NASA or another sponsor).

PIs and Co-PIs also shall list any current and pending support with China, including Chinese universities and other similar institutions or a Chinese-owned company at the prime recipient level and at all subrecipient levels, whether the bilateral involvement is funded or performed under a no-exchange of funds arrangement.[1]

The proposing PI shall notify the NASA Program Officer identified in the funding announcement (NOFO) immediately of any successful proposals that are awarded by any federal agency for substantially overlapping work as proposed to NASA any time after the proposal is submitted and until NASA announces its award selections.

Current and pending support is not required for Co-Is at non-U.S. institutions. Current and pending support is usually not required for students, but it may be requested, depending on the requirements of the NOFO.

Please note that NASA proposals for other types of awards may have other requirements; please check the program solicitation.

Special Restrictions for Non-US Organizations

In accordance with restrictions set forth in section 526 of PL 117-103, and all applicable subsequent appropriations acts, NASA is prohibited from funding any work that involves the bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination with China or any Chinese-owned company or entity, at the prime recipient level or at any subrecipient level, whether funded or performed under a no-exchange-of-funds basis. Accordingly, proposals shall not include bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination with China or any Chinese-owned company or entity, whether funded or performed under a no-exchange-of funds basis. In order to comply with this restriction, BU requests this internal questionnaire be completed and submitted to Sponsored Programs with each NASA proposal. Proposals involving bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company, whether funded or performed under a no-exchange-of-funds basis, will be ineligible for award.

[1] “China or Chinese-owned Company” means the People’s Republic of China (PRC), any company owned by the PRC, or any company incorporated under the laws of the PRC. Chinese universities and other similar institutions are considered to be incorporated under the laws of the PRC and, therefore, the funding restrictions apply to grants and cooperative agreements that include bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination with Chinese universities

What does this mean for BU researchers?

Transparency is the best practice. When disclosing international engagements to funding agencies, err on the side of transparency:

  • Foreign Components

    • Include a complete description of all Foreign Components (all locations outside the US where significant scientific activities are performed) in new proposals
    • Be sure to disclose Foreign Components in your progress reports.
    • Obtain prior sponsor approval when adding a Foreign Component
  • Biographical Sketch

    • List ALL current positions, honors and scientific appointments, both domestic and foreign, including affiliations with foreign entities and governments, even if not related to the sponsor-supported work
  • Current and Pending (Other) Support

    • Disclose current/pending participation in or application to programs sponsored by foreign governments/entities, including foreign talent recruitment programs
    • Disclose your appointments at foreign universities, even if unpaid; access to lab space, research materials, and staff are considered resources for your research efforts.
    • Disclose in-kind contributions not intended for use on the proposal
    • Disclose visiting scholars working on research in your lab who are funded by an external entity, such as their home foreign university
    • Disclose students/postdoctoral scholars working on research activities in your lab who are funded by an external entity, such as their home foreign university. If you are mentoring a post-doc or graduate student who is individually funded through an outside institution, such as their home institution or a foundation, and there is no research involved, then it does not need to be reported as a resource.
    • Disclose consulting that falls outside of your BU appointment
    • Disclose start-up packages from an organization other than BU, including from foreign entities
    • Disclose gifts IF a gift has been provided for a specific research activity or there is an expectation of an associated time commitment. Gifts provided with no expectation of anything in return (time, services, money, specific research activities) do not need to be reported.

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