Federal efforts underway to streamline research grant review process

 

A recent report from the National Science Board seeks to ease the burden of private investigators and lower costs associated with the overall merit review process for federal research grants (Photo Credit/National Science Foundation).

A recent report from the National Science Board seeks to ease the burden of private investigators and lower costs associated with the overall merit review process for federal research grants (Photo Credit/National Science Foundation).

A recent report from the National Science Board seeks to ease the burden of private investigators and lower costs associated with the overall merit review process for federal research grants.

The National Science Foundation’s National Science Board (NSB) has released a report outlining recommendations to reduce administrative workload for principal investigators of federally funded research.

The report is in response to several previous federal surveys and reports from the Federal Demonstration Partnership and the National Research Council that found these results:

1)      Federally supported scientists spend an average of 42 percent of their research time on administrative tasks.

2)      ”The problem of excessive regulatory burdens…puts a drag on the efficiency of all university research,” potentially costing “billions of dollars over the next decade.”

Among its recommendations, the NSB report recommends focusing grant proposal oversight on merit and achievement; harmonizing and streamlining grant management requirements among federal agencies and bureaus; eliminating or modifying unnecessary or ineffective regulations; and, identifying and disseminating model programs and practices that increase the efficiency of university research review processes.

On July 14, the House passed bipartisan H.R. 5056, the Research Development and Efficiency Act, that seeks to implement the report recommendations. It was introduced by Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-IN) of the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology with bipartisan agreement. The bill would create an interagency working group under the authority of the National Science and Technology Council with these mandates:

(1) Harmonize, streamline, and eliminate duplicative Federal regulations and reporting requirements; and

(2) minimize the regulatory burden on United States institutions of higher education performing federally funded research while maintaining accountability for Federal tax dollars.

The NSB, various research entities and institutions, including the American Association of Universities, support the legislation.

Additional information on the NSB report is available here.

Author: Terence Houston

Science Policy Analyst for ESA.

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