Research

National Science Foundation Requirement on Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, and Sexual Assault

On February 8, 2018, the National Science Foundation released Important Notice No. 144. The notice reminds the research community of its obligations to fully investigate complaints of sexual or other harassment and for complying with federal nondiscrimination law. After conducting a public comment on a proposed award term and condition, NSF released a new term and condition, Article X: Notification Requirements Regarding Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault, on September 21, 2018. The term is effective for new awards and funding amendments to existing awards issued on or after October 22, 2018.

Institutional Requirements

  1. Maintain Harassment-Free Research Workplaces
    • Establish and maintain clear and unambiguous standards of behavior
    • Establish notification pathways for all personnel, including students, regardless of workplace location
    • Provide accessible and evident means for reporting violations, including reporting when personnel are engaged in conferences, workshops, field work, or other research facilities
    • Ensure institutional due diligence with timely investigations of allegations and corrective actions
  2. Reporting to NSF
    • Michigan Tech must report to NSF if:
      • It places a PI or Co-PI on administrative leave related to an investigation of an alleged violation or a finding/determination demonstrating a violation of awardee policies or codes of conduct, statutes, regulations, or executive orders relating to sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault.
      • It imposes any administrative action on a PI or Co-PI related to an investigation of an alleged violation or a finding/determination demonstrating a violation of awardee policies or codes of conduct, statutes, regulations, or executive orders relating to sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault.
      • It issues a finding/determination regarding a PI or Co-PI demonstrating a violation of awardee policies or codes of conduct, statutes, regulations, or executive orders relating to sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault.
  3. Michigan Tech must report as a direct recipient or as a subrecipient of an NSF award that includes the term.
  4. Michigan Tech must submit the report to NSF within ten (10) business days from the placement on administrative leave, imposition of administrative action, or the date of the finding/determination. The report submissions will be done by the Office of the Associate Vice President for Research Administration in coordination with the Institutional Equity Office.

Potential NSF Actions

After receiving and reviewing the information, NSF will consult with the institution and may:

  • Initiate the substitution of the PI or a Co-PI,
  • Reduce the award funding amount, or
  • Suspend or terminate the award.

NSF Considerations

  • Safety and security of personnel supported by the NSF award
  • Overall impact to NSF-funded activity
  • Continued advancement of taxpayer-funded investments in science and scientists
  • Whether the awardee has taken appropriate action(s) to ensure continuity of science and that continued progress can be made under funded project

Coverage

  • All grant personnel (PI, Co-PI roles trigger reporting requirement)
  • All locations where grant work is undertaken (including conferences, workshops, field sites, on- and off-campus research facilities, online)
  • The new term and condition will be applied to new NSF awards and funding amendments to existing awards made on or after October 22, 2018.

Implementation at Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech has a process to adhere to the NSF notification requirements: MTU Process to NSF Notification Requirements Regarding Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault. Additionally, the FAQs have been created about the Process Related to NSF Notification Requirements Regarding Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault.

Other Links

At present, this procedure addresses NSF reporting only. However, the University may have other legal or contractual obligations to report harassment or sexual misconduct to third parties, e.g., to other government agencies or sponsors in connection with specific awards or collaborations, and will act in accordance with those obligations. Also, the University anticipates that additional funding agencies or organizations are likely to adopt comprehensive notification requirements similar to NSF’s. The University may update this procedure as necessary to address such additional notification requirements.

National Institutes of Health

NIH expects grantee institutions to have policies and practices in place that foster a harassment-free environment. Learn more here.

NIH requires that every organization receiving NIH funds:

  • Has systems, policies, and procedures in place to manage research activities in accordance with our standards and requirements
  • complies with federal laws, regulations, and policies protecting the rights and safety of individuals working on NIH-funded projects

NIH expects that institutions:

  • develop and implement policies and practices that foster a harassment-free environment;
  • maintain clear, unambiguous professional codes of conduct;
  • ensure employees are fully aware and regularly reminded of applicable laws, regulations, policies, and codes of conduct;
  • provide an accessible, effective, and easy process to report sexual harassment, and provide protection from retaliation;
  • respond promptly to allegations to ensure the immediate safety for all involved, investigate the allegations, and take appropriate sanctions; and
  • inform NIH of administrative actions that removes senior/key personnel on an NIH award.

NIH encourages organizations receiving NIH funds to have in place similarly rigorous policies and related procedures for their employees, contractors, trainees, and fellows who engage in agency-funded activities as NIH’s policies and procedures for Preventing and Addressing Harassment and Inappropriate Conduct and NIH’s policy statement on Personal Relationships in the Workplace.