HSST Hearing Examines Federal Agency Actions to Secure U.S. Science and Technology

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing on February 15th, with the goal of ensuring that federal agencies are acting to protect U.S. science and technology development from malevolent foreign agents.  

[Watch the Hearing Live Stream

Witnesses included: 

  • The Honorable Arati Prabhakar, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 
  • Dr. Rebecca Keiser, Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy, National Science Foundation 
  • The Honorable Geri Richmond, Under Secretary for Science and Innovation, Department of Energy 
  • Dr. Michael Lauer, Deputy Director for Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health 

Testimony shed light on the complexities of safeguarding scientific integrity while fostering innovation and collaboration. A central theme of the statements underscored the delicate balance between protecting the privacy of researchers and promoting transparency of data.  

Members of Congress asked a range of questions from research security priorities to the challenges posed by international collaborations. Members expressed concern about the threat posed by foreign entities, particularly China, as well as about intellectual property theft, economic espionage, and the need for stricter regulations to mitigate these risks. Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) highlighted an imbalance in transparency between the US and China in scientific transparency, raising the question: “Why should China benefit from our openness around science when they don’t reciprocate?” Additionally, the hearing delved into the impact of international collaborations on research security, with some expressing worries about potential vulnerabilities and the need for accountability mechanisms for people who violate security rules. Rep. Richard McCormick (R-GA) raised concerns that international collaborators in research and medicine are not held to the same standards as those on American soil.   

Members of Congress and witnesses agreed on the need for a concerted effort to develop robust policies, enhance awareness, and foster a culture of research security to safeguard scientific integrity at American research institutions.  

Chairman Lucas expressed dissatisfaction that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) had not released the final version of its guidance on research security. Back in February 2023, OSTP released a draft of the guidelines. It raised concerns about the costs of compliance and administrative burden. Director Prabhakar did not specify when the complete guidelines will be released.