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OSTP Pressed to Finalize Research Security Standards

FEB 20, 2024
The standards will determine how research institutions must structure their security programs.
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Science Policy Reporter, FYI American Institute of Physics
Arati Prabhakar

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar.

(Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO/AP)

Arati Prabhakar, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, faced questions on why OSTP has taken so long to develop research security standards during a House Science Committee hearing last week.

Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) said it was “unacceptable” that researchers still do not have “timely, clear, and uniform guidance,” referring to the fact OSTP has not yet spelled out how universities must comply with an impending policy that will require many to maintain research security programs.

“We’ve heard from agencies and stakeholders saying they are having trouble implementing their own research security guidelines because there are no government-wide standards yet,” Lucas said, adding that he hoped to “get answers on why we aren’t further along in this process.”

Lucas did acknowledge that OSTP has made some progress in advancing research security guidance, pointing to the policies on common disclosure forms and talent recruitment programs that it released just before the hearing.

Prabhakar said that getting the security programs guidance right has been more difficult and time-consuming than expected, noting for instance that commenters on the draft standards OSTP published in February 2023 raised significant concerns about the administrative burden and costs of compliance.

Prabhakar did not share when OSTP expects to publish the final standards but said it is a personal priority to complete them.

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