DC Digest - May 31, 2011
In Today's Issue:
- Senator Coburn Highlights "Waste, Duplication" at NSF
- President Brodhead Urges Support for Research Programs and Student Aid
- Obama Picks Duke Alum as Next Joint Chiefs Chairman
- Duke Alum Appointed to President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee
- Policy Progress vs. Protecting Privacy
- Twenty-Four House Democrats Urge Restoration of International Education Funding
- House Members Urge Maintaining Pell Grant Maximum Award Level in FY12
- House Passes Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011
- AAU, COGR, AAMC Urge Delayed Implementation of Latest Lab Animal Care Guide
- State Department Loosens Visa Rules for Iranian Students
- National Education Report: Undergraduate Enrollment Sees Largest Increase in 30 Years
SENATOR COBURN HIGHLIGHTS WASTE, DUPLICATION AT NSF
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn on Thursday released a new oversight report, “The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope” that raises questions regarding the agency’s management and priorities. According to the press release issued by Senator Coburn's office, "the report identifies more than $1.2 billion the National Science Foundation (NSF) has lost due to waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement and an additional $1.7 billion in unspent funds."
Senator Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican known for his efforts to limit federal spending, is a long-time critic of social science research at the NSF. A statement from Coburn said that the NSF plays a role in key discoveries but that much of its spending "contributes to our debt rather than science."
An NSF statement about the report said: "The National Science Foundation is renowned for its gold-standard approach to peer review of each of the more than 40,000 proposals it receives each year, While no agency is without flaws, NSF has been diligent about addressing concerns from members of Congress about workforce and grant management issues, and NSF's excellent record of tracking down waste and prosecuting wrongdoing is apparent from Senator Coburn's report. We believe that no other funding agency in the world comes close to NSF for giving taxpayers the best return on their investment."
Sen. Coburn Sets Sights on Waste, Duplication at Science Agency (NYTimes)
Coburn Press Release (Coburn.senate.gov)
The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope (Coburn.senate.gov)
PRESIDENT BRODHEAD URGES SUPPORT FOR RESEARCH PROGRAMS AND STUDENT AID
President Brodhead sent letters to North Carolina Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr on Friday urging their consideration of specific federal funding priorities for the upcoming budget cycle. While acknowledging the nation's debt crisis, the letters emphasize the role of universities in producing a well-trained work force and innovative technologies - both keys to a strong national economy. Specifically, President Brodhead asks Senators Burr and Hagan to support competitively awarded research grant programs at the federal agencies as well as Department of Education student aid programs.
President Brodhead's Letter to Senator Burr (pdf. Note: Brodhead sent a similar letter to Senator Hagan)
OBAMA PICKS DUKE ALUM AS NEXT JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN
President Obama nominated Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey (G '84) as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and promoted two other senior military leaders Monday, completing an overhaul of his national security team in advance of the 2012 election.
If Dempsey is confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first Army general in nearly a decade to hold the chairman’s post.
Obama Nominates Dempsey to Lead Joint Chiefs of Staff (Washington Post)
DUKE ALUM APPOINTED TO PRESIDENT'S NATIONAL SECURITY TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
President Obama announced his intent on Thursday to appoint Lisa Hook (T '80) to the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.
Hook is the President and CEO of Neustar, Inc. Prior to joining Neustar, Inc., Ms. Hook held leadership positions at AOL, Time Warner and Viacom. Ms. Hook also served as a senior advisor at the Federal Communications Commission. Ms. Hook currently serves on several corporate and non-profit boards, including Reed Eslevier PLC, Reed Elsevier NV, Reed Elsevier Group PLC and The Ocean Foundation. She holds a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Dickenson School of Law.
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts (whitehouse.gov)
POLICY PROGRESS VS. PROTECTING PRIVACY
The U.S. Education Department has been unabashed in its desire to interpret the main federal law governing student privacy to allow much greater sharing of educational records, to let states build databases that will track students as they move through the educational pipeline and into the work force. With the changes it has proposed making in the regulations to carry out that law, it appears to be nearing its goal -- to the delight of policy gurus and the consternation of privacy advocates.
Policy Progress vs. Protecting Privacy (InsideHigherEd)
Higher Education Groups Concerned New FERPA Rules Unravel Student Privacy Protections (ACEnet.edu)
HOUSE PASSES RESTORING GI BILL FAIRNESS ACT OF 2011
The House of Representatives on May 23 passed the GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011 (H.R. 1383) by vote of 389-0. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), would grandfather Post-9/11 GI Bill payments for student veterans currently enrolled in private colleges and universities, protecting them from a possible reduction in benefits due to changes included in the Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 passed in January.
OFR is closely monitoring the legislation and assessing the impact on our veteran students.
House Passes Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011 (ACEnet.edu)
TWENTY-FOUR HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE RESTORATION OF INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION FUNDING
Under the leadership of Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), 24 House Democrats sent a letter to appropriations leaders on May 18 asking them to provide $126 million for Title VI International Education and Foreign Language programs in FY12, the same as their funding in FY10. The budget for the programs was cut by $50 million, or 40 percent, in the final FY11 continuing resolution.
“The various programs funded under this account serve to strengthen the nation’s educational infrastructure in areas where the need grows greater by the day,” said the letter. “Strong academic programs in critical foreign languages and intensive training in multi-disciplinary regional studies, including socio-economic, cultural, security, and religious aspects among others, are vital to national security.”
HOUSE MEMBERS URGE MAINTAINING PELL GRANT MAXIMUM AWARD LEVEL FOR FY12
A group of 105 Democratic Representatives sent a letter to leaders of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee on May 19 urging them to maintain the Pell Grant maximum award at the current level of $5,550.
The letter, initiated by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), describes Pell Grants as “the cornerstone of our nation’s student aid program, currently enabling more than nine million students to get the higher education and job training they and our nation need.” The Member letter notes that with 80 percent of the fastest growing jobs in the country demanding training above the high school level, the nation needs more students graduating with college degrees to remain competitive. “Pell Grants are essential to America’s future.”
AAU, COGR, AAMC URGE DELAYED IMPLEMENTATION OF LATEST LAB ANIMAL CARE GUIDE
AAU, the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) wrote to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on May 24 urging officials to delay implementation of the updated guide for laboratory animal care. They requested the delay to provide time for the agency to address outstanding issues and to phase in new animal care requirements through institutional implementation plans.
The associations were responding to an NIH request for comments on adoption and implementation of the eighth edition of the “Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” (the Guide). The Guide, which is a publication of the National Academies’ Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, serves as the basis for compliance and assurance with the Public Health Service policy on the humane care and use of laboratory animals.
The associations expressed concern that the updated Guide contains additional requirements in housing and environmental standards that not only represent a troubling move away from performance-based standards toward more rigid engineering standards, but also would require significant new financial investment for many institutions. They urge NIH to “proceed with caution” in implementing the new Guide, given “the research community’s view and the determination of NIH’s own expert panel that a change in the 1996 Guide was not necessary.”
STATE DEPARTMENT LOOSENS VISA RULES FOR IRANIAN STUDENTS
The U.S. State Department announced Friday, May 20 that it was changing the visa rules for Iranian students that have limited them to "single entry" visas, which have forced any Iranian student who travels outside the United States to reapply for a new visa. The multiple-entry visas for which Iranian students can now apply will allow them to travel abroad and return to their studies in the United States. "This change will allow Iranian students and exchange visitors to travel more easily, furthering our goal of promoting the free flow of information and ideas. This important decision is being taken as the global community witnesses the Iranian government’s increasing censorship and isolation of its own people," said a statement from the State Department.
Changes to Visa Validity for Iranian Student Applicants in F, J, and M Visa Categories (state.gov)
NATIONAL EDUCATION REPORT: UNDERGRADUATE ENROLLMENT SEES LARGEST INCREASE IN 30 YEARS
Undergraduate enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities grew by 5 million students between 2000 and 2009, according to a new report from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). This increase is the largest in the undergraduate population in 30 years.
The annual report, which is mandated by Congress, provides a snapshot of education from early childhood through the postsecondary level. Alongside enrollment information, it includes degrees conferred and analyzes the use of distance education, student financing and educational outcomes.
Undergraduate Enrollment Sees Largest Increase in 30 Years (ACEnet.edu)
2011 Condition of Education Report (nces.ed.gov)