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University Research Regulatory Burden

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BROOKS. Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, I have seen Federal overregulation stifle research universities.

Earlier this year, the National Research Council of the National Academies released its report entitled, ``Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation's Prosperity and Security.'' This report examined Federal regulatory burdens on America's research universities.

On June 27, the Research and Science Education Subcommittee held a hearing on that report and whether regulatory red tape stifles scientific research. I asked our witnesses how we can enhance university scientific research capabilities. Their responses are instructive:

Mr. Chad Holliday, chairman of the National Academies Committee on Research Universities testified:

Federal policymakers and regulators should review the costs and benefits of Federal regulations, eliminating those that are redundant and ineffective, inappropriately applied to the higher education sector, or impose costs that outweigh the benefits to society.

Dr. John Mason, Auburn University associate provost and vice president of research, testified:

A comprehensive review of policies and regulations is perhaps the most important in this report. Streamlining the process, relieving unnecessary and costly administrative burdens, and coordinating research priorities among disparate Federal agencies will invigorate research universities exponentially.

Dr. Jeffrey Seemann, Texas A&M University chief research officer and vice president for research, testified:

Federal agencies and Federal regulators must reduce and/or eliminate unnecessary, overly burdensome, and/or redundant regulatory and reporting obligations for universities and their faculty in order to maximize investments more directly into research priorities and allow faculty time to be optimally utilized.

Dr. Leslie Tolbert, University of Arizona senior vice president for research, testified:

The growing burden of compliance with the increasing numbers and complexity of Federal regulations consumes increasing amounts of time and money, leaving less for more direct support for research.

Finally, Dr. James Siedow, vice provost for research at my alma mater, Duke University, testified that research universities have been subjected to a:

Growing number of research-related compliance regulations that have flowed down from Federal agencies over the past 10 to 15 years. In that regard, the research-related and quality assurance costs to Duke between 2000 and 2010 rose over 300 percent. This perceived piling on of new reporting requirements has led to negative responses on the part of faculty, who see more and more of their time being committed not to actually carrying out the funded research but to a myriad of mundane administrative duties. The extreme to which some of these regulations have gone of late seems well beyond that needed to accomplish the original regulatory ends.

Consistent with their views, the National Academies recommended:

Reduce or eliminate regulations that increase administrative costs, impede research productivity, and deflect creative energy without substantially improving the research environment.

I asked our witnesses to identify specific regulations to amend or repeal. They are preparing their lists. I look forward to receipt of their recommendations and working to repeal counterproductive red tape that does more harm than good.

According to the National Academies, if we successfully cut wasteful regulations, we:

can reduce administrative costs, enhance productivity, and increase the agility of research institutions. Minimizing administrative and compliance costs will also provide a cost benefit to the Federal Government and to university administrators, faculty, and students by freeing up resources and time to support education and research effort directly. With greater resources and freedom, universities will be better positioned to respond to the needs of their constituents in an increasingly competitive environment.

Mr. Speaker, America's research universities are essential to America's scientific innovation. If we clear the red tape from their path and free them up, they will produce the fundamental research that fosters American exceptionalism and, equally important, results in economic growth and jobs.

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