Webinar: Proposed Expansion of Foreign Gift and Contract Reporting Requirements

​ACE will conduct a webinar providing an overview of the Department of Education's proposed expansion of the requirements pertaining to foreign gift and contract reporting under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act (HEA). This problematic enlargement of federal oversight originally was proposed Sept. 6, 2019 via a Department of Education (ED) information collection request, which reached well beyond the scope of the law.

Comments on the proposed information collection closed Nov. 5. In mid-December, ED asked the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for an expedited review to finalize the information collection request (ICR) in time for the next reporting deadline for institutions, Jan. 31. OMB rejected that request, and ED withdrew it and on Feb. 10 resubmitted a proposal for an expanded ICR via the Federal Register and gave 30 days for public comment.

ACE Senior Vice President Terry W. Hartle and ACE Director of Government Relations Steven Bloom will discuss what is in the proposed information collection request and how it could impact colleges and universities. The foreign gift and contract reporting requirements webinar will be held after the final information collection request is released.

Background

These reporting requirements had remained relatively obscure until 2019, when ED began launching investigations, now numbering at least five, into individual institutions. Many institutions have been uncertain about what information they must provide, and since January ACE has called on ED ​to clarify these reporting requirements. They have repeatedly refused to meet with us to discuss campus concerns.  

Indeed, what ED proposed under the original ICR would have gone well beyond what the law requires. For instance, it appeared to require the reporting of contracts and gifts below the statute's $250,000 threshold and also may have extended to the disclosure of the names and addresses of individual foreign donors, including alumni, even for small dollar gifts. It also required institutions to upload “true copies" of gift and contract agreements to a planned publicly accessible web portal of the department, potentially violating the privacy of individual donors and risking disclosure of intellectual property agreements and proprietary information.

Since September, ED has backed away from some of the problematic provisions in the original ICR. For instance, it clarified that colleges and universities don’t have to report contracts with foreign entities that involve the purchasing of goods and services or the leasing of facilities. And, in another example, ED clarified that institutions do not have to report tuition payments from foreign students. ED also deleted from the ICR a question about whether foreign funding has a direct or indirect influence on a program or curriculum and removed another question asking schools to certify compliance with certain anti-terrorism requirements.

Removing the request for “true copies” of contracts and gift agreements was the only significant change ED made to the ICR that it submitted to OMB and asked to be approved under “emergency procedure” in December. ED and OMB have also agreed that the department will pursue rulemaking separate from the ICR process to address the desire to collect such true copies from covered institutions.

This information collection request is not a formal rulemaking process. But institutions also can submit comments to OMB during the comment period.

A background and talking points document on Section 117—prepared by ACE, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Council on Governmental Relations—provides more detail on the department's information collection request and offers talking points that can be used to help form comments to OMB and to share information with lawmakers.

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Who Should Attend

This webinar will be valuable for presidents, provosts, general counsels, government relations officers, vice presidents of research, CFOs/chief business officers, development officers, and any other campus leaders who are concerned with foreign gift and contract issues.

Cost

The 45-minute webinar will be free for those at ACE member institutions, and will cost $99 for those from non-ACE member institutions. Look up your institution's membership status

When

This webinar is not yet scheduled.​

The timing of the event depends on the release of the final information collection request. ACE intends to host this webinar soon after that time.

To receive updates on when you can register, please sign up below. When the event is scheduled and registration has opened, you will receive an email with more information on how to register. 

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This webinar will be scheduled when the Section 117 information collection request is finalized. 

The timing of the event depends on the release of the final information collection request. ACE intends to host this webinar soon after that time.

To receive updates on when you can register, please sign up below. When registration for the webinar is open, you will receive an email with information on registering.

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