Research and Sponsored Projects Manual (RSP)

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Effective: 11/14/1986

Revised: 7/1/2016

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RSP 404: Classified and Proprietary Research

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To identify the circumstances under which the university will accept agreements requiring access to government classified information and to protect the special interest of the university to carry out research in an open and unrestricted manner.

To outline the limited circumstances under which the university may agree to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information in sponsored research.

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Arizona Revised Statutes §39-101 to -161, Arizona Public Records Act
Arizona Revised Statutes §15-1640, Public records exemptions; confidential information; historical records; donor records
Arizona Board of Regents Policy Manual, ABOR 3-202
Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA)
Office for Research and Sponsored Projects Administration (ORSPA)
Policy Statement on Classified and Proprietary Research, prepared by the Ad Hoc Academic Senate Committee on Classified and Proprietary Research, December, 1984
Policy Statement on Classified and Proprietary Research, prepared by the Ad Hoc Academic Report of the Task Force on Classified Research, put forth by the University Senate at Arizona State University, 2006
University Senate Motion 75-0910

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The faculty of Arizona State University (ASU) is committed to a large and varied agenda of research. The research agenda assumes that the university’s role in society is not fulfilled unless research and teaching are vigorously pursued and fully integrated at all levels. Thus, faculty research advances knowledge, enriches teaching, and serves the community.

The principle of the indivisibility of teaching and research requires the university to carry out research in an open and unrestricted manner, with complete freedom to publish or otherwise disseminate the results of the search for knowledge. This special mission of a university makes it necessary for students and faculty to have access to university facilities with minimal restrictions. While society can benefit from classified research, the requirements of secrecy and restrictions on freedom to publish, which are inherent in governmental security classification, can be in opposition to the special mission stated above. This makes it necessary to specifically address classified research conducted by the university.

The research policies are intended to prevent the restrictions associated with classified research from interfering with the educational and open research activities of the university. These policies do not, however, prohibit self-imposed restrictions based upon the professional ethics of a particular discipline. This policy does not apply to off-campus research and activities relating to non-ASU consulting, leaves of absence, or work conducted by an individual employee outside of usual ASU responsibilities.

Arizona State University is committed to a research agenda that fully integrates research and teaching. This commitment requires that research results become public information. Some sponsors, however, restrict public disclosure of their proprietary information when negotiating the terms of sponsored research agreements. These restrictions may conflict with ASU’s ability to integrate the resulting research outcomes with course content or other forms of public dissemination.

This policy governs research carried out on-campus or off-campus and information identified as proprietary prior to or following initiation of a sponsored research project.

Principal investigators (PI) undertaking proprietary research outside of their normal university responsibilities are governed by university policies and procedures for consulting and leaves of absence.

Classified Research Policies

  1. The university shall not undertake, on campus, any classified research that introduces limits on the access to a facility unless:

    1. the project requires the use of unique specialized facilities or the participation of personnel unique to this university


    2. the project clearly represents a critical public service at a time of local, state, or national emergency.
  2. In no case shall the university enter into a classified research agreement unless the proposed research has been reviewed by the Classified Research Committee and the Classified Materials Management Group (MG).
  3. Theses or dissertations that cannot be freely published or disseminated in their entirety cannot be accepted in fulfillment of degree requirements. Faculty are obligated to explain this requirement to students working on classified projects and discuss the likelihood that their research would not be publishable.
  4. No classified research or materials shall be considered with regard to appointments, reappointments, tenure, promotions, or merit pay raises.
  5. Adequate access to research facilities or instrumentation on campus used by faculty or students for nonclassified research must be maintained. The sponsoring agency must finance any instrumentation, equipment, or space renovations on campus designated solely for classified research.
  6. The term “on campus” shall designate those areas and physical facilities in which education and research involving undergraduate and graduate students takes place. Initially, these areas shall include Tempe, Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic, and West campuses, and exclude the ASU Research Park and Skysong.

The Classified Research Committee

There shall be a faculty Classified Research Committee broadly representative of the university’s disciplines, composed of six faculty members, with the executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development (or designee) serving ex officio. The faculty members on the committee will be nominated annually by the president of the University Senate in consultation with the executive vice president (or designee) of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Authority and Responsibilities of the Committee

The Classified Research Committee shall review any proposed new or renewal of a research award that will involve classified information, and shall make a determination that the proposed contract does or does not satisfy the criteria stated in the policy. The Committee must include at least three individuals with relevant technical competence to assess the proposed research project and the capabilities of the university’s personnel and facilities. They shall be informed of the details of the proposed research project, exclusive of classified information, and will determine if the project satisfies the criteria stated above. The Committee shall submit its recommendation to the executive vice president of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

The same review shall also be conducted for any project that is originally unclassified but becomes so during the period of its grant or contract. The Committee shall also be responsible for interpretations of paragraphs B through F, above, and for resolving issues or conflicts that might arise thereunder.

The executive vice president of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development shall consult annually with the Classified Research Committee and inform the committee of any research on-campus grant or contract that the university has accepted, agreed to, or renewed since the last report that involves classified information. The Classified Research Committee shall transmit a written report of its deliberations, recommendations, and university actions annually through the Research and Creative Activities Committee to the University Senate.

If the university decides not to follow a recommendation of the Classified Research Committee, the executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development shall at that time provide a written justification to the Committee, with a copy the University Senate, of the reasons for the university’s actions.

The Classified Materials Management Group

Under ABOR policy 3–202, ABOR and ASU have established a Classified Materials Management Group (MG), with responsibility for negotiating, executing, and administering research projects involving classified information. The MG includes a regent, the university president, the executive vice president (or designee) of Knowledge Enterprise Development, and the facility security officer. Under no circumstances will the university enter into a classified research agreement without a quorum of the Management Group certifying that the contemplated project satisfies the criteria stated in sections B through F above.

For more information, see the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance website.

Proprietary Research Policy

The university will not agree to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information received in conjunction with a sponsored research project unless:

  1. the proprietary information is not necessary for the publication or verification of research results;


  2. an acceptable confidentiality or nondisclosure clause is included in the governing agreement;


  3. the PI(s) agree(s) to fulfill all responsibilities outlined below;


  4. the designated information qualifies as proprietary or confidential under Arizona law.

Principal Investigator Responsibilities

  • The PI is responsible for ensuring all project personnel, including visiting scientists, postdoctoral researchers, trainees, graduate students, undergraduates, etc., adhere to all university policies and procedures relative to conducting the project and for the security of the data provided under the agreement.
  • The PI shall work with ORIA and ensure all project personnel are apprised of all relevant policies and regulations and that they agree to abide by and affix their signatures to the principal investigator’s Technology Control Plan (TCP) for the particular research project. The TCP shall be developed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the agreement (i.e., identify the use of secure filing cabinets, password protect computer files, etc. as appropriate) to the appropriate ORSPA Grant and Contract Officer (GCO) before the award is accepted on behalf of the university.
  • The PI shall provide a list of all personnel working on any proprietary project, whether paid or unpaid. The PI shall obtain from each individual his or her agreement to abide by the university’s policies and procedures relative to managing the conduct of the project. All newly hired personnel working on the project must be added to the TCP immediately. Should an individual not agree to abide by these terms he or she may not participate in the proprietary research project.
  • The PI shall confirm, prior to ASU’s acceptance of the agreement, to the appropriate ORSPA GCO, that the terms of the agreement will not have an adverse impact on his or her ability to publish, nor the ability of any ASU employee or student participating in this agreement to publish.

Typically, a statement will be included in the agreement stipulating that Arizona State University is a public institution, and as such is subject to the Arizona Revised Statutes §39-101 to -161, Arizona Public Records Act.

The university has the right to publish the results of its research and other sponsored activities, subject to sponsor review for any inadvertent inclusion of confidential or proprietary information.

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes §15-1640, the university, under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), has certain specific exemptions from the disclosure requirements of Arizona’s Public Records laws.

Students participating in these projects must be fully informed and provide consent to any potential restrictions on the disclosure of research results developed from work on these projects, so as to not jeopardize fulfillment of student academic requirements because of any restrictions on the disclosure of research results. It is the university’s position that investigators and students must have the right to disclose the results of their research and other sponsored activity, subject only to established safeguards for the protection of privacy and confidentiality of personal data.

Permissible Delays

The university will enter into confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements to allow for the exchange of proprietary information between partnering institutions during proposal development and submission.

The university may agree to delay the submission of materials intended for publication for 30 days to provide time for a sponsor to review such materials for confidential proprietary information that is protected under a sponsored agreement. In addition, because public disclosure of a patentable invention prior to filing a patent application precludes the availability of patent protection in most countries, the university may agree to delay the submission of materials intended for publication for a maximum of 90 days, which includes the 30-day review period stated above, in order to coordinate the invention disclosure process.

If an agreement proposes a restriction on publication, see RSP 406, “Publication” for guidance.

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Additional Information

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For further information, see the Technology Control Plan and Technology Control Plan Guidance.

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For additional information, see:

  1. RSP 101, “General Research Policy”


  2. RSP 406, “Publication”

For information on consulting, see:

  1. RSP 206, “Objectivity in Research—Disclosure of Financial Interests and Management of Conflicts of Interest”


  2. the Academic Affairs Policies and Procedures Manual (ACD), ACD 510–01: “Notification of Consulting or Other Remunerative Arrangements for Faculty and Academic Professionals.”

For additional information on leaves of absences, see the Staff Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual (SPP), SPP 700: “Leaves and Absences.”

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