Purveyor of Fine Print
Dan LaHann loves to learn new things. He has taken courses at the U of I almost every year for more than two decades. In that time, he earned B.A. degrees in finance and human relations, as well as a master’s degree in public administration—all from the University of Idaho.
LaHann’s passion for continuous learning is critical to his success as compliance coordinator for Office of Research and Economic Development's (ORED’s) Office of Research Assurances (ORA). In this role, he must continually be on top of many rules and regulations in four key areas: conflict of interest, export controls, responsible conduct of research and unmanned aircraft systems, better known as drones.
“I help make life easier for faculty, staff and students by helping them comply with the various rules, regulations and policies associated with their projects so that they can concentrate on doing their important research,” LaHann said.
LaHann’s position is also one of the key lines of defense in protecting U of I’s research—and researchers themselves, because violations of export control laws can result in severe civil and criminal penalties.
LaHann says some policies and requirements around export control and conflicts of interest are in the process of changing.
“Recently, the U.S. government has focused on foreign influence and its effect on the scientific research enterprise in our country,” LaHann said. “They are dedicating more attention to protecting the $150 billion spent each year by the American taxpayer to support scientific research in the United States.”
LaHann says this increased attention has resulted in more agencies proactively addressing these concerns by mandating the disclosure of foreign financial interests and other activities.
“If investigators are getting paid from foreign governments or other foreign entities, our government sponsors want to know about it,” LaHann said. “Participation in a talent program will not necessarily disqualify investigators from projects; however it is important that it is reported.”
LaHann says the Department of Energy now requires U of I faculty, staff and students to disclose participation in foreign government talent recruitment programs for select research projects. Other funding agencies, such as the U.S. Public Health Service and National Science Foundation, have also shown interest in using the Department of Energy’s verbiage in their own contracts.
LaHann says that, as more agencies roll out these mandated disclosures, it is important to disclose not only partnerships or positions with foreign partners in VERAS, but to also to disclose any travel sponsored by foreign governments and or entities in ORA’s international travel export control questionnaire.
“In keeping your significant financial interests updated, the university will be better able to respond to funding agency requests for protecting against undue foreign influence,” LaHann said. “The earlier that investigators disclose this information to us, the sooner we can certify projects and avoid funding delays.”
LaHann also helps coordinate approval for drone flights performed on behalf of the U of I for research and/or outreach.
Have questions or need information about conflict of interest, export controls, responsible conduct of research or drones? Visit the ORA homepage or call 208-885-6162.
Article by Phillip Bogdan, Office of Research and Economic Development