Lipinski Introduces Legislation to Reduce Excessive Federal Regulations on University Researchers While Still Protecting Taxpayers
Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) introduced the University Regulations Streamlining and Harmonization Act of 2016 to reduce the time and money spent by researchers complying with excessive federal regulations. Following up on recommendations from a National Academy of Sciences report, Lipinski worked with the National Academies, scientific advocacy groups, and universities to develop this legislation to relieve regulatory burdens while still protecting the taxpayers’ investment from waste, fraud, and abuse. Congressman Randy Hultgren (IL-14) joined in co-sponsoring this bipartisan bill.
“The federal government plays a leading role in funding research that keeps our country on the forefront of science,” said Rep. Lipinski. “Unfortunately, this funding comes with some unnecessary regulatory burdens. As a political science grad student and professor, I had my own experiences dealing with federal research regulations. As a member of the Science Committee, I now hear from former colleagues and researchers across the country about the excessive reporting and monitoring requirements they must comply with. Some of these are important to protect the investment that taxpayers are making in scientific research. Increasingly though, these requirements are taking up an inordinate amount of researchers’ time and resources that could otherwise be devoted to cutting edge research.”
A recent survey conducted by the Federal Demonstration Partnership found that 42 percent of faculty time related to scientific research is spent on activities other than research, with 19.3 percent spent on just filling out paperwork to comply with federal regulations. Not only do these requirements take scientists out of the lab, but they also cost the Federal Government money that could otherwise be spent on science. Vanderbilt University did a study of public and private universities and found that an estimated $10 billion annually is spent on complying with regulations on federally funded research.
The University Regulations Streamlining and Harmonization Act of 2016 would:
· Establish a Research Policy Board to advise the Office of Management and Budget on proposed research regulations and recommend ways to streamline existing ones
· Allow for the review of research regulations by a panel of experts from the research and university community
· Eliminate requirements for duplicative auditing of research grants
· Streamline the process for purchasing research equipment and help universities make sensible arrangements to save money by buying in bulk
· Assist scientists in filling out grant applications across different federal agencies by setting up an online database for researcher information that can automatically input certain parts of applications
“By making the regulations around scientific research more efficient and data-driven, we can better utilize every dollar dedicated to research,” said Lipinski. “My bill frees up time and resources for scientists to do research that can help cure diseases, develop new sources of energy, and understand the world in ways that were previously impossible. Spending more money on research rather than administrative costs also means a better use of taxpayers’ dollars, and could even help prevent tuition increases by reducing the need to supplement research funds at universities with other revenue sources to cover costs. In tight budget times such as these, I think looking at reforms like this are very important and something members on both sides of the aisle support.”
In addition to serving on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Congressman Lipinski is also the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Research and Technology. His district includes Argonne National Laboratory, the first national laboratory in the United States and the largest facility of its kind in the Midwest. He has long supported investing in innovation and scientific research at universities, national labs, and other entities that support long-term economic growth and allow the United States to compete in the global marketplace and grow American jobs.
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