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News Release

Brookings Statement on New York Times Article Examining Foreign Government Funding of U.S. Think Tanks

Washington, D.C. – The New York Times published an article examining foreign government funding of U.S. think tanks. The journalist, Eric Lipton, met with Managing Director & Senior Fellow Bill Antholis and Vice President for Communications David Nassar, and spoke with Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Martin Indyk, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Middle East Policy Tamara Wittes and General Counsel Ona Dosunmu during his investigation. We exchanged several emails with him, and provided him access to Brookings internal documents. He was most focused on our funding from the governments of Qatar and Norway and questioned whether Brookings should register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Read a message from Brookings President Strobe Talbott in response to the article »

We believe that we answered all of his questions fully and in a way that wholly affirms the quality and independence of our research. We are not an agent of a foreign government, nor should we register as one, and we reject any characterization of us as such. Despite the transparency of our response to the reporter’s questions, we believe his characterization of a few issues is inaccurate and casts Brookings in a negative light. The article points to a few ambiguous excerpts picked from thousands of pages discussing proposed studies and research, as well as to internal and rather benign communications between government officials which Brookings had not seen before being presented with them by the New York Times. The New York Times has not brought to our attention any actual activity which requires registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. However, we will continue to review our work as it relates to FARA to ensure both compliance with the law and fulfillment of our mission.

Brookings has over 200 scholars, and over 700 funders, and had over 400 active grant projects last year. Since our founding in 1916, we have been conducting research and convening public forums to address critical issues of the day with fair and balanced assessments supported by scholarly research. Our research is not directed or controlled by any funder or third party, and Brookings does not act as the agent or representative of anyone but itself. We are constantly reviewing our policies to ensure that we maintain the highest standards for safeguarding our independence and that our work does not require us to register under FARA. We will continue to review our internal policies and procedures, including with our Board, to make sure that we are setting the standard for think tank integrity.


The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. For more than 90 years, Brookings has analyzed current and emerging issues and produced new ideas that matter — for the nation and the world.

For inquiries: David Nassar, 202.255.5074

Read a message from Brookings President Strobe Talbott in response to the article »

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The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public.

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