Portman Statement on HHS IG Finding 69 Percent of NIH Taxpayer-Funded Grant Recipients Fail to Disclose Foreign Ties

WASHINGTON, DC– Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement calling for the Conference Committee tasked with reconciling differences between the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House’s America COMPETES Act, to include his bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report that found that more than two-thirds of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) grant recipients failed to meet federal requirements regarding foreign financial interests including at least one instance of U.S. taxpayer-funded researchers failing to disclose ties to the Chinese government.

Portman’s bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, passed the Senate last year on a bipartisan basis as a part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Portman and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led a year-long investigation that revealed how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s military and economy over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it. Starting in the late 1990s through its “talent recruitment programs,” China began recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded research and innovation for China’s military and economic gain. This legislation will ensure the federal government is taking decisive action to safeguard American innovation, such as by requiring federal grant applicants to disclose compensation from foreign governments.

“The HHS OIG report finding more than two-thirds of NIH grant recipients failed to meet foreign financial disclosure requirements as well as at least one instance of a U.S. taxpayer-funded researcher failing to disclose ties to the Chinese government reinforces the need to ensure my Senate-passed, bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act is included in the USICA conference report. My bipartisan legislation would allow the federal government to punish individuals who intentionally fail to disclose foreign support on federal grant applications while also mandating a standardized U.S. government grant process. Any conference report with significant increased levels of federal funding for research without the protections included in the Safeguarding American Innovation Act would be a huge giveaway to Beijing. We must do everything possible to stop foreign governments from stealing our research and innovation.”