Assessing Risk

Foreign Influence can come from domestic sources also. Foreign AGENTS can integrate themselves into domestic entities, using the US affiliation to access sites or sensitive information that may be export-controlled or of interest for economic or national security advantage.

The University should perform due diligence in accessing and mitigating risk. In addition to restricted party screening, consideration should also be given to FGTRP, travel, and export control.

Restricted Party Screening

UIUC uses a software tool called Descartes Visual Compliance to expedite restricted party screening of the U.S. government export control lists of individuals or entities that are barred or otherwise restricted from entering into certain types of transactions with U.S. persons. Additional lists, which may be found in Visual Compliance under Authorities Consulted, are also used for the identification of parties restricted for other reasons. These may not be associated with export control but may be of interest when considering national security or foreign policy concerns. Please read the following instructions to learn more about how to use the Descartes Visual Compliance software: Complete Visual Compliance Screening Instructions.

Restricted party screening should be completed:

  • Before initiating formal or informal collaborations
  • Before discussing plans to engage in sponsored projects
  • Before exchanging personnel, materials, data, confidential information, or money with foreign persons, academic institutions, governments, companies, or other foreign entities
  • Before considering research collaborations or appointments

Restricted party screening must be completed for:

  • Foreign sponsors and vendors
  • Foreign research collaborators
  • Foreign sponsors of international travel and international conferences
  • University-sponsored applicants on H1-B and J-1 Research Scholar, Professor, and ShortTerm Scholar visas
  • All personnel associated with export-controlled research
  • Foreign entities with whom the university has confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements
  • Foreign visitors, visiting scientists, and visiting speakers
  • Subcontractors and subawardees to sponsored projects
  • Recipients of Materials Transfer Agreements

Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Program (FGTRP)

Involvement in a Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Program (FGTRP) is not illegal. However, there may be terms in the agreement that require the individual to perform tasks or obtain information that directly conflicts with US national security, foreign policy, or responsible research conduct. Any of the following situations are typical of what raises concerns for being involved in a FGTRP:

  1. Compensation above what would considered “beyond reasonable and customary for the field.” Covering travel costs and providing lodging would not be considered excessive, but paying you $10K to cover <$10K in expenses would be.  
  1. Honorarium payments- receiving payment for offering your expertise would not be an issue- (Please reference the Ethics Act) except if this honorarium was contingent upon future activity. We have seen where the ability to process an honorarium was contingent upon the individual being enrolled in a FGTRP (in this case, the FGTRP was already known for its nefarious activity).  
  1. Requirements to recruit other professionals as part of the terms of the contract. 
  1. Requirements to list the FGTRP first for publication citations. 
  1. Requirements to provide additional US technology to foreign entities.     
  1. Any additional requirements that are considered to run contrary to ethical research conduct. 

In addition to the FGTRP concern, discussions concerning any research or technology that is not public might pose an issue. Discussions should revolve around information in the public domain.  

There could also be requirements from funding agencies to disclose any involvement with a FGTRP. 

UIUC requires this disclosure in the RNUA.              


You should be careful not to travel outside the United States with controlled items or computers or other devices that contain controlled information. If you wish to travel internationally for the purposes of conducting or presenting research, you should consult with the Export Compliance Officer to determine whether any restrictions apply. In particular, if you are involved in controlled research, you must contact the Export Compliance Officer prior to finalizing any international travel plans.  

Export Control 

When conducting transactions with a sanctioned country, the items/technology or activity itself may be controlled. Approval or US Agency licensing may be required and must be obtained before the activity.  

Highly restricted countries may require additional consideration due to the continued risk posed by changing US regulations.   

For more information, please click here to visit SPA’s Export Controls webpage.

The National Landscape

US Agency and Department guidance continues to challenge university research compliance and international collaboration. At the highest level, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has tasked these Agencies and Departments with providing guidance to recipients of Federal funding. Following are legislative and Agency guidance on efforts to address this challenge.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 

Joint Committee on the Research Environment 

Foreign Influence Legislation 

  • National Defense Authorization Act 2020 
    National Defense Authorization Act 2019: Federal regulations resulting from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2019, Section 889 have enacted prohibitions from purchasing or using telecommunications equipment and services from Huawei Technologies Co or ZTE Corp and their subsidiaries or affiliates and video surveillance products or telecommunications equipment from Hytera Communications, Hangzhou HikvisionDigital Technology Co, or Dahua Technology Co and their subsidiaries or affiliates. A comprehensive list of these companies and their subsidiaries or affiliates is located here
  • Presidential Memorandum 33 (NSPM-33) 
    The purpose of NSPM-33 is to strengthen protections of U.S. Government-supported R&D against foreign government interference and misappropriation while maintaining an open environment to foster research discoveries and innovation that benefit the United States and the world. 

Federal Funding Agency Guidance 

Federal Bureau of Investigation Guidance 

Department of Defense’s Policy for Risk-Based Security Reviews of Fundamental Research:

Below, please see the comprehensive matrix with individual U.S. agencies, as well as the restrictions that each one oversees as they pertain to research institutions and universities:

Figure 1. Summary of Restrictions Applicable to Research Institutions and Universities