WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Cornyn (R-TX) announced the introduction of S. 2133, the bipartisan Secure American Research Act, legislation that would establish an interagency working group to protect federally-funded research and development activities from foreign interference, espionage, and exfiltration and would develop an agency-wide accountability metric to enhance cybersecurity protocols.
“Taxpayer-funded research at our nation’s universities and academic institutions play a pivotal role in developing innovative technologies and scientific advances utilized by the public, businesses, our military and other departments within the federal government,” said Senator Rosen. “Yet, researchers and their institutions too often lack the resources needed to protect their assets from cyber-attacks and espionage. This bipartisan legislation would coordinate federal policies and best practices and help identify potential threats and vulnerabilities within federally-funded research in science and technology, providing our institutions with the support they need to protect important research and development.”
“China continues to exploit our institutions of higher education to steal taxpayer-funded research on innovative technologies and military developments using espionage and cyberattacks,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation would give our universities the resources they need to secure this sensitive data and make sure foreign governments aren’t profiting off American ingenuity.”
BACKGROUND: The bipartisan Secure American Research Act directs OSTP to coordinate a Secure Research Working Group to:
• Draft unified security policies, guidance, and best practices to better protect taxpayer-funded research.
• Identify agency-based cybersecurity policies in order to receive federal research dollars, including:
o Required acknowledgement of cyber policy and disclosure of foreign interests, investments, or involvement relating to federal research when applying for federal research grants.
o Creation of a non-public, interagency database of researchers found to have fraudulently disclosed foreign interest and the institution of higher education where the fraudulence occurred.
• Promote the ongoing coordination of information sharing between agencies, the private sector, and academia to better understand and address the threats from foreign espionage and theft.
• Identify potential threats and vulnerabilities within the science and technology fields.
• Develop strategies to work with industry to defend against cyber-attacks and foreign espionage threatening federal research and development.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and James Lankford (R-OK) joined Cornyn and Rosen as original co-sponsors of the bill.