Monday 22 January 2024

U.S. GAO Report on Tracking U.S. Government Funding to Foreign Entities

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on January 11, 2024, which studies federal funding provided to foreign entities for research and development.  The Report states:

According to the National Science Foundation, federal agencies obligated about $1.4 billion for R&D with foreign entities in fiscal year 2020 (the most recent data available). However, some foreign entities may try to exploit U.S. openness in sharing R&D for nefarious purposes.

The Research and Development, Competition, and Innovation Act includes a provision for GAO to review research funding provided to foreign entities of concern. The act's definition of such entities includes foreign terrorist organizations and foreign entities subject to the control, ownership, and jurisdiction of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

This report examines challenges in identifying R&D funds awarded to foreign entities of concern and requirements for awarding and monitoring such funding.

The Report also states, in part:

GAO found that determining whether federal research and development (R&D) funds were provided to a foreign entity of concern is challenging. Such entities include foreign terrorist organizations and specially designated nationals, among others. Awarding agencies are generally prohibited from doing business with foreign terrorist organizations and specially designated nationals.

GAO found that government-wide databases which report on some of these entities lack common identifying information such as a unique identifier or personally identifiable information. For example, a physical address, date of birth, or other identifying information for entities on the foreign terrorist organization list is often unavailable as entities often try to conceal their identity or location, according to the Treasury Department. When personally identifiable information such as date of birth is available, similar information is not available in the public federal funding data source, Specifically, although awarding agencies collect other identifying information, such as phone numbers of entities seeking an award, not all such information is reported in Together, these challenges limit the ability to match foreign entities on certain lists with those receiving government-wide funding.

The full Report is available, here. 

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