House Hearing Witnesses Balance Needs for Research Collaboration, Security

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

By: Lisbeth Perez

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the importance of international collaboration in science to solve global problems, and witnesses at a House Space, Science, and Technology Committee hearing on October 5 emphasized the importance of balancing the benefits of open collaboration in science with the pressing need for information security in the research enterprise.

“Openness in science allows for reproduction and replication of work, increasing reliability of conclusions and building public trust,” said Rep. Bill Foster, chairman of the Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. “It fosters cooperation across disciplines, brings in new perspectives, and sparks new ideas that wouldn’t come from any one solitary lab or country,” he continued.

How the U.S. handles scientific and technological rivalry with nation-state adversaries will help determine how prosperous and secure the U.S. is in the future, and Dr. Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described the research/security question as a balancing act.

“We need to guard against [our adversaries] improper activities without harming the U.S. scientific enterprise or cutting off collaborations that benefit us,” said Zuber.

Recent reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) note challenges the research community faces in combatting undue foreign influence, while at the same time maintaining an open research environment that fosters collaboration, transparency, and the free exchange of ideas.

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Paid for by Bill Foster for Congress