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Excessive regulations turning scientists into bureaucrats

Date:
May 1, 2014
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Excessive regulations are consuming scientists' time and wasting taxpayer dollars, says a new report. Thousands of federally funded scientists responded to a request to identify requirements they believe unnecessarily increase their administrative workload.

Excessive regulations are consuming scientists' time and wasting taxpayer dollars, says a report released today by the National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking body of the National Science Foundation and advisor to Congress and the President.

"Regulation and oversight of research are needed to ensure accountability, transparency and safety," said Arthur Bienenstock, chair of the NSB task force that examined the issue. "But excessive and ineffective requirements take scientists away from the bench unnecessarily and divert taxpayer dollars from research to superfluous grant administration. This is a real problem, particularly in the current budget climate."

Thousands of federally funded scientists responded to NSB's request to identify requirements they believe unnecessarily increase their administrative workload. The responses raised concerns related to financial management, grant proposal preparation, reporting, personnel management, and institutional review boards and animal care and use committees (IRBs and IACUCs).

Scientists and institutions pinpointed regulations they believe are ineffective or inappropriately applied to research, and audit and compliance activities that take away research time and result in university over-regulation.

"Escalating compliance requirements and inconsistent audit practices directly impact scientists and the time they have to perform research and train students and staff," said Kelvin Droegemeier, NSB vice chairman and a member of the task force.

The report, Reducing Investigators' Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research, recommends limiting proposal requirements to those essential to evaluate merit; keeping reporting focused on outcomes; and automating payroll certification for effort reporting. The NSB further recommends an evaluation of animal research, conflict of interest, and safety and security requirements, and encourages universities to review their IRB and IACUC processes to achieve rapid approval of protocols.

The report cites a continued lack of consistency in requirements within and between federal agencies and recommends the creation of a permanent high-level, inter-agency, inter-sector committee. The committee would address the recommendations in the NSB and other reports; identify and prioritize, with stakeholder engagement, additional opportunities to streamline and harmonize regulations; and, help standardize the implementation of new requirements affecting investigators and institutions.

"Streamlining research regulations and making requirements more consistent across federal agencies is in the best interest of scientists and taxpayers," said Bienenstock.

http://nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsb1418/nsb1418.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Excessive regulations turning scientists into bureaucrats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501165648.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2014, May 1). Excessive regulations turning scientists into bureaucrats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501165648.htm
National Science Foundation. "Excessive regulations turning scientists into bureaucrats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501165648.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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