ACE, Higher Education Groups Comment on New Foreign Gift and Reporting Information Request
March 13, 2020

​​​​​​The Department of Education should make changes to the latest version of its proposed expansion of foreign gift and contract reporting requirements, ACE said in comments submitted Wednesday on behalf of more than three dozen other higher education associations.

The comments address a revised proposal for an expanded information collection request (ICR) regarding Section 117 of the Higher Education Act the department unveiled last month.

As the associations told ED, colleges and universities take seriously the risks association with illicit technology transfer and undue foreign influence, and institutions are committed to complying with their obligations under Section 117. But they also noted that the interests of government and the higher education community are best served by a full-fledged regulatory notice and comment process, something that has never been provided.

While ED has incorporated some changes from the previous ICR issued in December, narrowing the information being sought, and intends to address the issue of “true copies” of gift and contract agreements through a separate rulemaking process, this new February ICR “still exceeds the statutory authority set out in Section 117.” For instance, the law mandates only the reporting of aggregate amounts of such gifts but not the identity of the donor.

The associations recommended that the department make changes to the proposed revised ICR to limit disclosure reporting to the requirements in the statute.

A final proposed version is expected to go to the White House Office of Management and Budget sometime next month for review.