What is the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)?

The US government, recognizing that the strength of academic research relies on creating an environment that promotes creativity and the free exchange of ideas, released the National Security Decision Directive 189 (NSDD189), which included an exclusion for Fundamental Research.

Fundamental Research is defined by the NSDD189 as:

"Basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is to be shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons."

In order to qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion, your research must be conducted free of any publication restrictions and without any access or dissemination restrictions (i.e., no restrictions based on nationality).  Brown University works to preserve the fundamental research exclusion by reviewing terms and conditions of sponsored awards, Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) and other research-related agreements to ensure such restrictions are not placed on the research.

What could undermine the FRE?

  • The FRE could be jeopardized if you agree to any “side-deals” outside of the negotiated terms and conditions of an award or agreement.  If in practice, you allow sponsors the ability to review and approve publications or to control access to the project or project results, you may lose your ability to take advantage of the FRE. Loss of the FRE can quickly put your research in jeopardy of non-compliance with export controls.

  • The FRE does not apply to items, equipment, technical data or software that are export controlled.

  • If your research includes work done outside the U.S., particularly in a sanctioned or embargoed country. This does not automatically mean that export licenses will be required, but it does mean that an export control determination needs to be done before the work begins. Contact Brown’s Export Control Officer for help in determining if a license is required.

My research is exempt from export controls under the FRE. Can I ship items developed as part of that research overseas?

Not automatically. While research results developed or generated under the Fundamental Research Exclusion are exempt from export controls and can be freely shared with foreign nationals both here and abroad, any materials, items, technology, or software generated as a result of the research ARE NOT exempt from export controls. Before shipping or taking any item abroad, an export control determination needs to be done to determine if an export license is required to take or transfer the item. Contact Brown’s Export Control Officer for help in determining your license requirements.

What is the Educational Information Exclusion?

Information that is normally taught or released by the university as part of the normal instruction in a catalog course or in an associated teaching laboratory is considered Educational Information and, as provided for under the federal regulations, is NOT subject to export controls.

What is the Public Information Exclusion?

Information that is already published, publicly available, or in the public domain is considered public information and, under the federal regulations, is NOT subject to export controls. Examples of information that is publicly available include:

  • Books, newspapers, pamphlets

  • Publically available technology and software

  • Information presented at conferences, meetings, and seminars open to the public

  • Information included in published patents

  • Websites freely accessible by the public