EPA Agrees to Stop Grants for Non-U.S. Researchers

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By Amena H. Saiyid

The EPA will only provide research dollars and opportunities to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and will no longer support work in its labs by foreign nationals.

Donna Vizian, EPA principal deputy assistant administrator for administration and resources management, made the policy change in response to an Office of Inspector General audit of the EPA grants program, according to a report by the office released Sept. 26.

The inspector general found that the Environmental Protection Agency paid $14.5 million to fund foreign fellows at its labs through a cooperative agreement with the National Academy of Sciences, and that the money “could have funded research by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.”

When the EPA directly awards fellowships, it requires the recipients to be either citizens or permanent residents, but fellowships awarded through a cooperative agreement, such as the one the agency had with the National Academy of Sciences, don’t require U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status.

The EPA said it would impose the requirements in future agreements.

Of the 166 fellows who worked at EPA laboratories between 2006 and 2017 under the agreement with the National Academy of Sciences, 107 were neither citizens nor permanent residents, the inspector general’s report said.

The National Academy of Sciences didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

The EPA has two other such agreements, one with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and another with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. Those agreements have citizenship requirements, and the inspector general reported they didn’t fund foreign nationals.

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