The AAMC joined Feb. 27 comments led by the American Council on Education (ACE) in response to the Department of Education’s (ED’s) new proposed information collection request (ICR, Docket No. ED-2022-SCC-0159) concerning foreign gifts and contracts disclosures.
In particular, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office within the department is requesting new information about foreign gifts reporting — with the proposal to return collection of this data to the FSA from its current collection under the ED’s Office of the General Counsel. These disclosures are required under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act (HEA). This follows a previous ICR issued in 2019 to which the higher education community, including the AAMC, also provided feedback [refer to Washington Highlights, March 13, 2020].
In the comments, the community urged the department to execute a formal rulemaking process to allow full stakeholder engagement and highlighted areas of concern where the community believes the ED is exceeding its statutory authority. The comments also noted that the “higher education community takes seriously its reporting obligations under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act” and that “our associations and the broader higher education community continue to work with the national security and research agencies to address concerns raised by federal policymakers regarding the possibilities of undue foreign influence and research security.”
The comment letter addressed several issues regarding the proposed ICR, including:
Support for the transfer of Section 117 data collection to the FSA from the Office of the General Counsel.
Concern that the ICR does not increase clarity or reduce administrative burden as required through the National Security Presidential Memorandum 33 [refer to Washington Highlights, Jan. 7, 2022].
An argument for the ED surpasses its statutory authority by requiring reporting of intermediaries that are legally distinct entities from institutions.
Concern about potential constitutional overreach in requiring reporting of anonymous donors.