CAPAC Applauds OSTP’s New Federal Grant Application Guidance to Reduce Profiling of Chinese American Researchers

Jan 11, 2022 Issues: Other Issues

Washington, D.C. —  Last week the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released guidance to all federal agencies on updating the federal grant application process to create a uniform grant application across the federal government. These grant applications frequently require disclosures about ties to foreign governments, but the lack of uniformity and clarity of procedures for completing these applications has resulted in researchers inadvertently making errors. These errors have been cited to bring charges against Chinese researchers when investigations failed to yield credible evidence of economic espionage.

In November 2021, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) sent a letter to OSTP’s Director, Dr. Eric Lander, recommending changes to the grant application process that would create a more uniform grant application across different federal agencies, standardize disclosure requirements across agencies, and clarify application requirements and regulations to improve the grant application process and address rising anti-Asian xenophobia. CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) issued the following statement:

“The China Initiative, launched by the Trump administration, is supposed to help stop espionage, but instead it has simply been an exercise in racial profiling, with just one conviction from over 150 defendants and at least 77 cases. In fact, instead of finding evidence of espionage, most of the investigations under the China Initiative have been based on discrepancies in grant applications. The threat of espionage is a real one that our government must remain vigilant against. But because the China Initiative prioritizes indictments of people with Chinese ancestry, what are often just paperwork mistakes are instead being used to ruin careers and lives. That is why CAPAC urged the OSTP to update the grant application process to create uniformity and reduce confusion, and we are pleased to see that our recommendations were adopted in this new guidance. The guidance is an important step in ending the harassment of Chinese researchers, and we in CAPAC are looking forward to working with OSTP and relevant agencies to ensure proper implementation across federal agencies.”