GU profs receive secret CIA funds

April 23, 2009

A project on American world power and a professor’s work on Russian affairs—described on Georgetown’s website as financed by anonymous sources—were funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, audits of Georgetown’s finances reveal.

The grants, as described in the University’s annual federal grant reports, represent $431,676.70 in anonymous donations made by the CIA to the University from 2003 to 2007. The decision to make the source of a program’s funding anonymous is made by the sponsor, according to Ruel Hector Tiongson, a grant administrator in the Office of Sponsored Programs.

The longest-running CIA program at Georgetown in this time period was a report by then-Georgetown professor G. John Ikenberry. The University received money for Ikenberry’s work on a report called “Strategic Reactions to American Global Predominance,” whose title was changed on publication to “Strategic Reactions to American Preeminence.” Ikenberry, now a professor at Princeton, did not respond to a request for comment.

Funding for the Ikenberry report began in 2003. While Georgetown’s Office of Sponsored Programs lists the report’s benefactor as anonymous, the A-133 report for that year says Georgetown received $25,329.95 for the “Strategic Reactions” report from the CIA. In the following years, Georgetown received $11,366, leading to a total cost of $36,695.95.

The report collects Ikenberry’s conclusion from a meeting of international relations theorists about American power in coming decades.

The CIA also gave Georgetown $394,980.75 for the work of Professor Angela Stent.  On the website of the Office of Sponsored Programs, nearly all of the money earned by Stent is listed under anonymous sources, although the website does not mention grants received in 2006.

All the money was provided through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, which allows employees at private institutions to work for the government while still retaining their private sector jobs. People working under the Act are paid through their original employer, which receives money from the government agency.

“[Employees with IPA agreements] continue to be Georgetown employees and get paid by Georgetown, but Georgetown gets reimbursed,” James Reisert, Georgetown’s Director of Sponsored Accounting, wrote in an e-mail explaining the Act.

Stent’s IPA agreement also lists the National Intelligence Council, in addition to the CIA. The same groups financed and published Ikenberry’s report. While the audits do not expand on Stent’s role at the Council, her Government Department biography says she served on the Council as an expert on Russia and Eurasia from 2004 to 2006. This matches the time period provided in the reports.

Another Georgetown professor, Nancy Tucker, worked on the National Intelligence Council during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 academic years, according to the audits. While Georgetown was reimbursed $252,609 by the CIA for her work, the Office of Sponsored Programs does not list grants received in those years, so it is not known if the grants were anonymous.

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We lost one of the coolest professors at Georgetown (based on being a CIA front) to Princeton? Seems to me that’s a problem.

Who cares?

Why is this newsworthy? Universities get research grants all the time from all sorts of sources, including government agencies. It just sounds like you’re trying to create scandal and controversy where there is none.

Will Sommer

:-(, I don’t think Ikenberry leaving had anything to do with the CIA. It’s also inaccurate to say he was a CIA front–he just produced a (very innocuous) report for part of the agency.

Who Cares, thanks for asking about the story’s newsworthiness. For me, the newsworthiness is that there were some anonymous grants, and some other documents shows they were from the CIA. What the money paid for isn’t sinister–the Strategic Reactions report, for example, wouldn’t be out of a place in an international relations class.

[…] a 2009 audit of the finances of Georgetown University revealed that the professors at the university had received secret funds from the CIA. Another report the […]