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Calendar No. 957
110th Congress Report
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.
II. Committee Action.................................................1
IV. Cost Estimate....................................................4
V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................5
VI. Changes in Existing Law..........................................5
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
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
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
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
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
Peter R. Orszag.
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate
June 26, 2008.
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
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
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
[(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
[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,
[(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,
[(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
[(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
[(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
[(2) establish criteria for the eligibility of
applicants, including criteria established by section
206(b), and for the selection of fellowship recipients;
[(3) select the fellowship recipients.
[(1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraphs
(2) and (3), each member of the Board shall serve
[(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.
(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
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;
(B) United States citizens to teach in
Vietnam in appropriate Vietnamese institutions
in the fields of study described in
(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]
* * * * * * *
(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
* * * * * * *
(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