At the core of Brookings’s mission is our research—and the independence and integrity of our research constitute the institution’s principal assets.
Brookings’s commitment to institutional independence is rooted in the individual independence of its scholars. All work produced or published by Brookings represents the sole conclusions of its authors; the institution itself does not take positions on issues. Brookings scholars and staff are required to meet the highest standards of research quality and professional ethics, abide by institutional policies that safeguard independence and integrity, and develop recommendations that are relevant and actionable.
It is in that spirit that Brookings scholars testify before Congress, interact with government officials in the United States and abroad, inform the media and the citizenry, and join with the nonprofit, private and public sectors on projects that benefit society. We strive to set an example of nonpartisanship and civil discourse, using Brookings’s convening power to provide a platform for discussing the most pressing issues of the day.
We believe in promoting collaborative efforts to advance the public good. Our relationships with other think tanks, foundations, universities, nonprofits, and the private sector, as well as government officials are based on their roles as stakeholders in the management of an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Our association with them is subject to clear and specific guidelines that ensure compatibility with our mission, values, and policies. In all cases, Brookings scholars retain final authority and responsibility for their work, including deciding on methodology, analysis, conclusions, and presentation, among other things.
The Board of Trustees has fiduciary responsibility for the institution. Brookings is led by Interim President Amy Liu, who reports directly to the Board, and executive leadership that oversees the operations of the research programs and central functions such as Finance, Human Resources, Legal, and Development. This team reviews our policies and procedures to ensure we carry out our mission in ways that meet the highest standards of quality, independence, and impact.
Our research independence and integrity policies, summarized below, reflect these values.
Brookings’s policies require that our personnel not allow any outside party to undermine or compromise the independence of our scholars’ research, or to attempt to predetermine or influence their recommendations.
Brookings scholars and personnel regularly engage with outside parties, including subject matter experts, stakeholders, government officials, and the public. They also engage with philanthropists and other donors who are energized by the goals and ideas of Brookings researchers and share in the institution’s mission of conducting high-quality, independent research and policy analysis.
As they do, Brookings personnel, including its scholars, may not engage in activities that constitute lobbying; that would require Brookings or its personnel to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); or that promote the interests of any donor or other third party. In addition, Brookings accepts funding only from donors who trust and value Brookings’s research expertise and who do not seek to compromise scholars’ research findings and independence, as established in Brookings’s donor guidelines.
Brookings scholars ultimately have the final word on their research and other activities.
Conflicts of Interest and Disclosures
Brookings has extensive conflict of interest policies, to which all employees and scholars—both resident and nonresident—must adhere. These policies outline the institution’s guidelines and procedures for identifying, resolving, disclosing and/or otherwise managing real, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest that may arise. We also have a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Policy for outside contributors, who are not employees or do not have formal affiliations with the institution.
Humankind’s biggest challenges are not limited by borders. Threats to democracy, equality, peace, and climate resilience span communities and the world. That’s why Brookings’s mission is to produce quality, independent analyses and ideas that help leaders address these and other matters at the local, national, and global levels.
In support of that mission, Brookings accepts financial support from a diverse spectrum of funders, including individuals, organizations, and governments outside the United States. On the latter, Brookings’s aggregate funding from foreign governments today typically makes up less than 10 percent of the institution’s overall financial support in a given year. Brookings publicly discloses its donors each year in its annual report, and in addition to its overarching independence and integrity policies, has established principles pursuant to which it evaluates foreign funding. Today, all prospective funding from outside the United States is subject to a review process to assess, among other things, the funder’s democratic status and track record of support for independent research, civil society, the rule of law, and respect for democracy and human rights. Foreign funders are required to acknowledge and agree to Brookings’s research independence principles, including its policy that bars the institution or its personnel from engaging in activities that would require registration under FARA.
Consistent with the institution’s mission and commitment to nonpartisanship, Brookings scholars may provide nonpartisan public policy analysis and recommendations to public officials and candidates for public office. Brookings personnel may not participate in partisan political activity on behalf of the institution. Brookings personnel must also take appropriate steps to avoid conflicts or confusion between their outside political activities and their Brookings affiliations, including by obtaining the institution’s approval and publicly disclosing their activities, as appropriate.
Plagiarism and Research Misconduct Policy
Brookings is committed to maintaining the highest integrity in its independent research and other activities. As such, the institution prohibits Brookings personnel from engaging in research misconduct, including plagiarizing, fabricating, or misrepresenting their research as well as failing to comply with applicable law and ethical standards. This applies to research misconduct in connection with Brookings work and may also apply to outside work written by an individual associated with Brookings.
Anti-Bribery, Anti-Terrorism and Compliance with Laws
Brookings conducts its activities in compliance with the laws and regulations of the United States, including anti-bribery laws (such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practice Act), anti-terrorism laws, anti-money-laundering laws, anti-boycott laws, and export control laws. Brookings is also committed to conducting its activities in compliance with local, state, and foreign laws and regulations of the jurisdiction where the activities take place.
Public Health Service Funded Research
Brookings provides guidelines and procedures for the identification and resolution of real, potential, or apparent financial conflicts of interest that may arise with respect to the institution’s employees and affiliates in public health service-funded research. Read more
Human Subjects Research
Brookings is committed to protecting the rights, welfare, and safety of individuals involved in Human Subjects Research, and does so in accordance with the principles outlined by The Belmont Report. Brookings’s work involving non-exempt human subjects research is expected to be conducted by individuals with appropriate training in the protection of human subjects, and to adhere to protocols approved by a registered Institutional Review Board.
Brookings is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. The institution prohibits discriminatory or harassing behavior, including sexual harassment, toward a person who is affiliated with Brookings or involved in activities related to the institution. Read more
Reporting, Investigations, and Whistleblower Policy
Brookings is committed to conducting its business in a lawful and ethical manner. Brookings has outlined the process for reporting and investigating suspected violations of Brookings policies or other misconduct in the course of Brookings business, including illegal or unethical activities. Individuals should report suspected misconduct to a Brookings supervisor or Human Resources business partner. For significant suspected misconduct, individuals may report the matter to a Brookings Vice President, the Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, or the General Counsel. Individuals may also report misconduct anonymously:
Anonymous Reporting Website: http://brookings.ethicspoint.com
Anonymous Reporting Hotline: 1-866-329-5288
Brookings will undertake a prompt investigation as may be appropriate under the circumstances. Brookings ensures that individuals reporting suspected violations in good faith, or participating in related investigations, will not face retaliation.
Brookings retains the right to revise, replace, or supplement its policies. We continuously review our policies and procedures to ensure that we safeguard our independence. The posting of these policies is for information purposes only, and nothing in these policies creates any legal or contractual rights or duties. If you have questions about any policy or procedure, please contact Brookings’s Office of Communications.