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                                                       Calendar No. 957
110th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     110-458

======================================================================



 
                     VIETNAM EDUCATION FOUNDATION 
                         AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008

                                _______
                                

               September 12, 2008.--Ordered to be printed

          Mr. Biden, from the Committee on Foreign Relations,
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 3097]

    The Committee on Foreign Relations, having had under 
consideration the bill (S. 3097) to amend the Vietnam Education 
Foundation Act of 2000, reports favorably thereon and 
recommends that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page

  I. Purpose..........................................................1
 II. Committee Action.................................................1
III. Discussion.......................................................1
 IV. Cost Estimate....................................................4
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................5
 VI. Changes in Existing Law..........................................5

                               I. PURPOSE

    The purpose of this legislation is to improve the operation 
of the Vietnam Education Foundation, which was established 
pursuant to the Vietnam Education Foundation Act of 2000.

                          II. COMMITTEE ACTION

    S. 3097 was introduced on June 6, 2008 by Senator Kerry, 
Hagel, Biden and Lugar. At a meeting on June 24, 2008, the 
committee ordered the bill favorably reported, without 
amendment.

                            III. DISCUSSION

    S. 3097, the Vietnam Education Foundation Amendments Act of 
2008, amends the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) Act of 
2000. The VEF Act of 2000 established an independent federal 
agency, the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), governed by a 
Board of Directors, including U.S. Cabinet Members or their 
designees, U.S. Senators and Representatives, and Presidential 
appointees. The broad goal of the VEF, as established under 
law, is ``To further the process of reconciliation between the 
United States and Vietnam and the building of a bilateral 
relationship serving the interests of both countries.'' VEF's 
specific mission is to administer an international fellowship 
program under which Vietnamese nationals can undertake graduate 
and post-graduate level studies in the sciences in the United 
States. To help accomplish this goal, the VEF also sends United 
States citizens to Vietnam to teach in appropriate Vietnamese 
institutions to help prepare Vietnamese college students for 
post-graduate work in the United States.
    Soon after the passage of the VEF Act of 2000, the 
Foundation established its headquarters in northern Virginia. 
The VEF later opened a representative office in Hanoi, Vietnam, 
to better oversee the recruitment of fellows and foster the 
relationship between the VEF and the government of Vietnam.
    Since its creation, the VEF has placed 270 Fellows at 64 
universities in the United States. Fellows are selected through 
a competitive process that draws on the expertise of members of 
the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). VEF has worked closely 
with the NAS to develop the selection process, which includes 
sending scientists to Vietnam to interview candidates and 
conduct the oral exam. VEF has developed a consortium of over 
100 U.S. universities interested in hosting VEF Fellows and 
willing to devote resources to support their studies in the 
United States (the VEF Alliance).
    VEF receives $5 million each fiscal year from the U.S. 
Treasury, drawing on payments made each year by the Socialist 
Republic of Vietnam to the Vietnam Debt Repayment Fund. This 
creative recycling of a portion of Vietnam's national debt to 
the United States follows the successful model established more 
than 100 years ago when the Congress created the Boxer 
Indemnity Fund, allocating a portion of China's debt to the 
United States to create Tsinghua University in Beijing. To this 
day, Tsinghua is one of China's premier universities, with two 
Nobel Laureates, the former Premier of China Zhu Rong-ji, and 
the current President of China, Hu Jin-tao, among its more 
famous graduates. To augment its annual appropriation, the VEF 
is authorized to receive private contributions and grants to 
support its operations.
    S. 3097 builds on the accomplishments of the VEF and the 
example of the Boxer Indemnity Fund, and draws on lessons 
learned over the past eight years to strengthen and streamline 
VEF's management and seek ways to enhance its long-term impact, 
including its ability to spur innovation in Vietnam's education 
sector.
    Managing VEF's operations on two continents has proven to 
be a complex undertaking. To strengthen and streamline 
oversight and management, S. 3097 brings VEF under the direct 
management of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs. The Bureau has a sterling track record 
managing the successful Fulbright School in Ho Chi Minh City, 
Vietnam. It has allowed the Fulbright School to enjoy 
significant programmatic autonomy, while providing consistently 
strong oversight and managerial support. S. 3097 provides for 
the VEF Board of Directors to be replaced by an Advisory 
Committee to provide advice to the Secretary of State on VEF's 
activities. The Advisory Board, which could include current 
board members, would continue to provide strategic guidance on 
VEF operations, to cultivate relations with VEF Alliance 
partners, and to foster U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation in the 
field of educational exchange.
    Experience has also shown that there is a limited pool of 
Vietnamese college graduates in the sciences qualified to 
undertake post-graduate studies in the United States. To expand 
the reach of VEF and better prepare Vietnamese students for 
graduate level study in the United States, the bill expands 
eligibility for fellowships to include qualified college 
students seeking to pursue undergraduate opportunities at U.S. 
universities. By expanding the potential scope of VEF fellows, 
the Committee does not intend to shift the focus of VEF away 
from graduate level education. To the contrary, the intent of 
this provision is to allow selective outreach to college 
juniors and seniors who are qualified to enroll at a U.S. 
university for a semester of study, summer school, or a 
research educational unit at a laboratory. These students will 
then be in a stronger position to undertake graduate studies in 
the United States upon graduation from their Vietnamese 
universities.
    Finally, to maximize the impact of VEF and to deepen the 
educational links between Vietnam and the United States, S. 
3097 authorizes the Secretary of State to award grants to one 
or more U.S. institutions of higher education to participate in 
partnership with the Government of Vietnam to establish an 
American Research College in Vietnam. The purpose of the 
American Research College shall be to provide a high quality 
general education to Vietnamese undergraduate students, better 
preparing them not only for foreign study but also to 
contribute directly to the development of Vietnam. The example 
of Tsinghua University in China shows how such a college can 
not only provide an excellent education to its students, but 
also spur innovation throughout the educational system and 
build lasting ties to the United States.
    The creation of an American Research College could begin to 
address the institutional constraints that are the chief 
barriers to emergence of world-class science and technology 
capacity in Vietnam. Vietnamese universities and institutes, 
and the ministries that oversee them, do not operate according 
to the core principles of academic freedom, autonomy, and 
merit.
    The committee recognizes that the establishment of such a 
college in Vietnam would be a major undertaking, and that the 
success of such a venture will depend on identifying a well-
qualified U.S. institution to spearhead the effort and on a 
strong partnership with the Government of Vietnam. The 
Government of Vietnam is expected to contribute land, 
buildings, and other resources to establish and maintain such a 
college. U.S. partners are also expected to bring their own 
resources--faculty, curriculum, funding--to the effort. It will 
also be critical to generate financial support from the private 
sector. The committee envisions that launching the American 
Research College will proceed in phases, beginning with a 
detailed feasibility study. It is the intent of the committee 
that VEF continue to support fellowships for graduate study in 
the United States, although some adjustment in the number of 
fellowships awarded will almost certainly be necessary once the 
college is launched in the absence of any significant new 
public or private financing for VEF.

                           IV. COST ESTIMATE

    In accordance with Rule XXVI, paragraph 11(a) of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the committee provides this 
estimate of the costs of this legislation prepared by the 
Congressional Budget Office.


                            United States Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, June 26, 2008.

Hon. Joseph R. Biden, Jr.,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 3097, the Vietnam 
Education Foundation Amendments Act of 2008.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Sunita 
D'Monte.
          Sincerely,
                                           Peter R. Orszag.

                                ------                                


               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                                     June 26, 2008.

                                S. 3097


          Vietnam Education Foundation Amendments Act of 2008


            AS ORDERED REPORTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON 
                   FOREIGN RELATIONS ON JUNE 24, 2008

    S. 3097 would revoke the status of the Vietnam Education 
Foundation as an independent federal entity by incorporating it 
into the State Department. It would authorize the foundation to 
provide fellowships to Vietnamese nationals for post-secondary 
schooling in the United States and to make grants to 
institutions of higher education to foster a partnership with 
the Vietnamese government in establishing an undergraduate 
college in Vietnam.
    CBO estimates that enacting the bill would have no 
significant effect on direct spending and would not affect 
revenues. Implementing the legislation would not affect 
spending subject to appropriation.
    Under current law, the foundation operates as an 
independent federal entity and administers a fellowship program 
for Vietnamese students to undertake graduate and post-graduate 
studies in the United States in the fields of science, 
mathematics, and technology. The foundation is funded by 
repayments of federal loans made to Vietnam (which are 
considered offsetting receipts) and receives $5 million each 
year. In recent years, the foundation has spent that amount 
each year, and CBO expects it would continue to do so under the 
bill.
    S. 3097 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Sunita D'Monte. 
This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                   V. EVALUATION OF REGULATORY IMPACT

    Pursuant to Rule XXVI, paragraph 11(b) of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the committee has determined that there is 
no regulatory impact as a result of this legislation.

                      VI. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with Rule XXVI, paragraph 12 of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by the bill, 
as reported, are shown as follows (existing law proposed to be 
omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new matter is printed in 
italic, existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in 
roman).

              TITLE 22--FOREIGN RELATIONS AND INTERCOURSE


                  Chapter 33--Mutual Educational and 
Cultural Exchange Program

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SEC. 2452. AUTHORIZATION OF ACTIVITIES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 203. DEFINITIONS.

    In this title:
          [(1) Board.--The term ``Board'' means the Board of 
        Directors of the Foundation.]
          [(2)] (1) Foundation.--The term ``Foundation'' means 
        the Vietnam Education Foundation established in section 
        204.
          [(3)] (2) Institution of higher education.--The term 
        ``institution of higher education'' has the meaning 
        given the term in section 101(a) of the Higher 
        Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)).
          (3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the 
        Secretary of State.
          (4) United states-vietnam debt agreement.--The term 
        ``United States-Vietnam debt agreement'' means the 
        Agreement Between the Government of the United States 
        of America and the Government of the Socialist Republic 
        of Vietnam Regarding the Consolidation and Rescheduling 
        of Certain Debts Owed to, Guaranteed by, or Insured by 
        the United States Government and the Agency for 
        International Development, dated April 7, 1997.

[SEC. 204. ESTABLISHMENT.

    [There is established the Vietnam Education Foundation as 
an independent establishment of the executive branch under 
section 104 of title 5, United States Code.]

SEC. 204. ESTABLISHMENT.

    There is established, within the Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs of the Department of State, the Vietnam 
Education Foundation (referred to in this title as the 
``Foundation'').

[SEC. 205. BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

    [(a) In General.--The Foundation shall be subject to the 
supervision and direction of the Board of Directors, which 
shall consist of 13 members, as follows:
          [(1) Two members of the House of Representatives 
        appointed by the Speaker of the House of 
        Representatives, one of whom shall be appointed upon 
        the recommendation of the Majority Leader and one of 
        whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the 
        Minority Leader, and who shall serve as ex officio, 
        nonvoting members.
          [(2) Two members of the Senate, appointed by the 
        President pro tempore, one of whom shall be appointed 
        upon the recommendation of the Majority Leader and one 
        of whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of 
        the Minority Leader, and who shall serve as ex officio, 
        nonvoting members.
          [(3) Secretary of State.
          [(4) Secretary of Education.
          [(5) Secretary of Treasury.
          [(6) Six members to be appointed by the President 
        from among individuals in the nongovernmental sector 
        who have academic excellence or experience in the 
        fields of concentration specified in section 202(1)(A) 
        or a general knowledge of Vietnam, not less than three 
        of whom shall be drawn from academic life.
    [(b) Rotation of Membership.--(1) The term of office of 
each member appointed under subsection (a)(6) shall be 3 years, 
except that of the members initially appointed under that 
subsection, two shall serve for terms of 1 year, two shall 
serve for terms of 2 years, and two shall serve for terms of 3 
years.
    [(2) A member of Congress appointed under subsection (a)(1) 
or (2) shall not serve as a member of the Board for more than a 
total of 6 years.
    [(3)(A) Any member appointed to fill a vacancy prior to the 
expiration of the term for which his or her predecessor was 
appointed shall be appointed for the remainder of such term.
    [(B) Upon the expiration of his or her term of office, any 
member may continue to serve until a successor is appointed.
    [(c) Chair.--The voting members of the Board shall elect 
one of the members appointed under subsection (a)(6) to serve 
as Chair.
    [(d) Meetings.--The Board shall meet upon the call of the 
Chair but not less frequently than twice each year. A majority 
of the voting members of the Board shall constitute a quorum.
    [(e) Duties.--The Board shall--
          [(1) provide overall supervision and direction of the 
        Foundation;
          [(2) establish criteria for the eligibility of 
        applicants, including criteria established by section 
        206(b), and for the selection of fellowship recipients; 
        and
          [(3) select the fellowship recipients.
    [(f) Compensation.--
          [(1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraphs 
        (2) and (3), each member of the Board shall serve 
        without compensation.
          [(2) Travel expenses.--The members of the Board shall 
        be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu 
        of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of 
        agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, 
        United States Code, while away from their homes or 
        regular places of business in the performance of 
        service for the Board.
          [(3) Compensation of presidential appointees.--The 
        members of the Board appointed under subsection (a)(6) 
        shall be paid at the daily equivalent of the rate of 
        basic pay payable for positions at level V of the 
        Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, 
        United States Code, for each day (including travel 
        time) during which the member is engaged in the actual 
        performance of duties as a Board member.
    [(g) Treatment of Presidential Appointees as Special 
Government Employees.--The members of the Board appointed under 
subsection (a)(6) shall be special Government employees, as 
defined in section 202(a) of title 18, United States Code.
    [(h) Travel Regulations.--Members of the Board shall be 
subject to the same travel regulations as apply to officers and 
employees of the Department of State.]

SEC. 205. VIETNAM EDUCATION FOUNDATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE.

    (a) Establishment.--
          (1) In general.-- There is established a Vietnam 
        Education Foundation Advisory Committee (referred to in 
        this section as the ``Advisory Committee''), which 
        shall provide advice to the Secretary and the Assistant 
        Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs 
        regarding the Foundation's activities.
          (2) Membership.--The Advisory Committee shall be 
        composed of 7 members, of whom--
                  (A) 3 shall be appointed by the Secretary;
                  (B) 1 shall be appointed by the majority 
                leader of the Senate;
                  (C) 1 shall be appointed by the minority 
                leader of the Senate;
                  (D) 1 shall be appointed by the Speaker of 
                the House of Representatives; and
                  (E) 1 shall be appointed by the minority 
                leader of the House of Representatives.
          (3) Appointment of incumbent members of board of 
        directors.--Members appointed to the Advisory Committee 
        under paragraph (2) may include individuals who were 
        members of the Board of Directors of the Foundation on 
        the date immediately preceding the date of the 
        enactment of the Vietnam Education Foundation 
        Amendments Act of 2008.
    (b) Supervision.--The Foundation shall be subject to the 
supervision and direction of the Secretary, working through the 
Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and 
in consultation with the Advisory Committee established under 
subsection (a).

SEC. 206. FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM.

    (a) Award of Fellowships.--
          (1) In general.--To carry out the purposes of this 
        title, the Foundation shall award fellowships to--
                  (A) Vietnamese nationals [to study at 
                institutions of higher education in the United 
                States at graduate and post-graduate levels] 
                for post-secondary studies at institutions of 
                higher education in the United States in the 
                following fields: physical sciences, natural 
                sciences, mathematics, environmental sciences, 
                medicine, technology, and computer sciences; 
                and
                  (B) United States citizens to teach in 
                Vietnam in appropriate Vietnamese institutions 
                in the fields of study described in 
                subparagraph (A).
          (2) Scientific and technical vocabulary in english.--
        Fellowships awarded to Vietnamese nationals under 
        paragraph (1) [may include funding to improve] may 
        include funding to--
                  (A) improve English proficiency in a 
                fellowship recipient's field of study[.] ; and
                  (B) prepare the fellowship recipient for 
                post-secondary education in any field described 
                in paragraph (1)(A).
          (3) Priority for basic sciences.--In awarding 
        fellowships under this subsection, the Foundation shall 
        give priority to individuals described in paragraph 
        (1)(A) who are studying the basic sciences.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (e) Fellowship Conditions.--A person awarded a fellowship 
under this title may receive payments authorized under this 
title only during such periods as the Foundation finds that the 
person is maintaining satisfactory progress and devoting full 
time to study or teaching, as appropriate, and is not engaging 
in gainful employment other than employment approved by the 
Foundation pursuant to regulations [of the Board] promulgated 
by the Secretary and applicable law.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 208. FOUNDATION PERSONNEL MATTERS.

    (a) Appointment by [Board] Secretary.--There shall be an 
Executive Director of the Foundation who shall be appointed by 
the [Board] Secretary without regard to the provisions of title 
5, United States Code, or any regulation thereunder, governing 
appointment in the competitive service. The Executive Director 
shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation and 
shall carry out the functions of the Foundation subject to the 
supervision and direction of the [Board] Secretary. The 
Executive Director shall carry out such other functions 
consistent with the provisions of this title as the [Board] 
Secretary shall prescribe. The decision to employ or terminate 
an Executive Director shall be made by an affirmative vote of 
at least six of the nine voting members of the [Board] 
Secretary.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (d) Compensation.--The [Board] Secretary may fix the 
compensation of the Executive Director and other personnel 
without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter 
III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to 
classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates, 
except that the rate of pay for the Executive Director and 
other personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level IV of 
the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of such title.

SEC. 209. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.

    (a) In General.--* * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (b) Annual Report.--The [Board] Secretary shall submit to 
the President and to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the 
Senate and the Committee on International Relations of the 
House of Representatives an annual report of the operations of 
the Foundation under this title, including the financial 
condition of the Foundation.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 2460. BUREAU OF EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS

    (a) Establishment; Responsibilities.--In order to carry out 
the purposes of this chapter, there is established in the 
United States Information Agency, or in such appropriate agency 
of the United States as the President shall determine, a Bureau 
of Educational and Cultural Affairs (hereinafter in this 
section referred to as the ``Bureau''). The Bureau shall be 
responsible for managing, coordinating, and overseeing programs 
established pursuant to this chapter, including but not limited 
to--

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (8) the Samantha Smith Memorial Exchange Program 
        which advances understanding between the United States 
        and the independent states of the former Soviet Union 
        and between the United States and Eastern European 
        countries through the exchange of persons under the age 
        of 21 years and of students at an institution of higher 
        education (as defined in section 1001 of title 20) who 
        have not received their initial baccalaureate degree or 
        through other programs designed to promote contact 
        between the young peoples of the United States, the 
        independent states of the former Soviet Union, and 
        Eastern European countries; [and]
          (9) the Arts America program which promotes a greater 
        appreciation and understanding of American art abroad 
        by supporting exhibitions and tours by American artists 
        in other countries[.] ; and
          (10) programs administered by the Vietnam Educational 
        Foundation.