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Projects & Initiatives

Science and Security


Our Mission To Advance and Promote Research

Open and collaborative fundamental research has served as a scientific and economic boon to the U.S. and the world. APLU fosters the development of globally competent students, internationally engaged faculty, and institutions capable of addressing global challenges. The science and education enterprise, however, is put at risk when other governments endeavor to benefit from it without upholding the values of openness, transparency and reciprocal collaboration.  

Best Practices

APLU has partnered with AAU to compile an effective practices summary outlining actions taken by universities to address the growing concerns on security threats and undue foreign government influence. Together, APLU and AAU conducted a survey of their members institutions on policies, practices, tools, and resources. This document is an update to the original Effective Practices Summary released in in April 2019.

APLU In Action

  • Keep our members informed by writing op-eds, organizing sessions at annual and summer meetings, form internal working groups with COR and CGA, and coordinate with partners such as AAU and COGR.
  • Work with federal research and intelligence agencies to address ongoing and emerging foreign security threats and ensure the security of the research enterprise.
  • Share best practices on mitigating risks from undue foreign government influence by highlighting institutional policies, practices, tools, and resources for our member institutions.
  • Advocate for proactive and sensible legislation to safeguard federally funded research from growing threats of foreign interference, cyberattacks, theft, and espionage, as well as ensure that federal science and security agencies have a mechanism to engage directly with the academic community and industry partners.

Background On Fundamental Research Security

The nation’s public research universities have a unique, long-standing partnership with the federal government conducting research on behalf of the American people. This research represents one of the nation’s greatest assets, which is why it is a target for foreign attack. APLU is working with its member institutions to help protect against foreign interference, influence, and theft of research and the discoveries that come from it.

APLU supported the Securing American Science and Technology Act of 2019. A modified version of the bill was included in the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed into law on Dec 20, 2019. The legislation establishes an interagency working group of federal science, intelligence, and security agencies under the direction of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The working group would be tasked with identifying and assessing existing mechanisms for control of federally-funded research, taking inventory of current control definitions, and developing and updating a framework to assist federal agencies and grantees in defending against threats. The legislation would create a new Science, Technology, and Security Roundtable -- convened by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine -- that would bring together key stakeholders from the scientific enterprise, including federal agencies, universities, and industry.