NSF tallies 16 cases of alleged harassment by grantees in first year of new rules

  • Since the National Science Foundation (NSF) implemented a policy governing when universities must report to them sexual harassment by grantees one year ago, they received 16 notifications.
  • The rules apply only to researchers who received an award after October 22, 2018, or a recent amendment to an earlier award, and kick in only when an institution takes what is called an “administrative action.” Institutions must also notify NSF of the final decision in a harassment investigation.
  • Given the limited scope of the new requirement, NSF officials thought it would be quite a while before they would begin to hear from universities.
  • As institutions move to be more aggressive when dealing with harassment they must also protect the privacy of all parties involved in the investigations and some worry that the new NSF reporting requirements make that more difficult.
  • Rhonda Davis, head of NSF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion explained “the reports come into a secure portal, and only our office and the general counsel’s office have access to it,”
  • The notification rules should reduce the chances that the agency is blindsided by media reports of current grantees who are found guilty of harassment.
  • NSF still needs to work on informing the community about the new policy.