DC Digest - June 23, 2011
In Today's Issue:
- Associations Oppose Bill to Make Permanent ARRA Reporting Requirements
- House Defense Funding Bill Would Cut Minerva Program
- Department of Ed to Publish College Affordability and Transparency Lists
- Video and Related Materials From Capitol Hill Humanities Briefing Now Available
- SAFRA One Year Later
- A Debate Reopened: Graduate Assistants - Students or Workers?
ASSOCIATIONS OPPOSE BILL TO MAKE PERMANENT ARRA REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
AAU, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Council on Governmental Relations issued a joint statement on Tuesday opposing H.R. 2146, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, which would perpetuate the extensive reporting requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The bill, introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), was approved today in committee, with amendments, by a unanimous vote. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate which, The Hill reports, “is expected to garner similar bipartisan support.”
The associations’ statement said:
“The Recovery Act imposed substantial added paperwork and other administrative burdens on scientists and administrators, with little evidence that they produced significant and useful information for the public or policymakers. The time and resources expended could have been devoted to actual research and education. Yet H.R. 2146 seeks to perpetuate these additional requirements.
“In fact, preliminary data being collected by the Federal Demonstration Partnership suggests that the paperwork and other administrative costs of the Recovery Act reporting requirements for just under 100 research institutions alone were $87 million, or about $7,900 per research award. If these costs are extended throughout the entire federal research enterprise, they could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars each year.”
Duke's OFR is monitoring the legislation and its potential impact on campus.
House Panel Overrides University Concerns in Passing Bill to Track Spending (ChronicleofHigherEd)
HOUSE DEFENSE FUNDING BILL WOULD CUT MINERVA PROGRAM
The FY12 Defense funding bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 14 includes an estimated $151 million increase for 6.1 basic research, but it effectively cuts funding for the Minerva Initiative. The measure would cut $5 million from the Pentagon’s request for Defense-wide Basic Research Initiatives. This is the budget line where the Minerva Initiative is funded. Since about $12 million of the Pentagon’s $14.7 million request for this budget line goes to Minerva, the program would likely absorb most of the $5 million cut, providing far fewer new awards in FY12.
The Minerva Initiative was begun in 2008 by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to support unclassified university research that would improve national security by expanding knowledge of cultures and societies around the world, including those hostile to the United States. The program supports interdisciplinary and cross-institutional projects that address specific topic areas determined by the Secretary, as well as Minerva Chairs at select military education schools.
The Minerva Initiative (dtic.mil)
DEPARTMENT OF ED TO PUBLISH COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY LISTS
Within the next week, the U.S. Department of Education will publish a series of “College Affordability and Transparency Lists.” As required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act, these lists will highlight, by sector, institutions with the highest tuition and fees, highest net price, and highest rates of tuition and net price increases. Two other lists will name institutions with the lowest published and net prices.
Institutions with the highest rates of tuition and net price increases over a three-year period will be required to submit special reports to the Secretary of Education. Colleges with the lowest tuition and fees, and lowest net price will also be highlighted.
The Obama administration is expected to orchestrate a major push to publicize the lists, and the higher ed community anticipates interest from the national, regional, and trade media. The public release must be made no later than July 1, but the release could occur early next week. Institutions appearing on the lists will receive advance notification (reportedly two days before publication) via e-mail from the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
For more detailed information about the consequences for being listed, exemptions to the lists, and other information, see NAICU's HEA 101 website.
VIDEO AND RELATED MATERIALS FROM CAPITOL HILL HUMANITIES BRIEFING NOW AVAILABLE
Video and background materials are now available for the Capitol Hill humanities briefing held May 19 that examined how cultural understanding can help address national security and other global challenges.
The session was hosted by AAU and the National Humanities Alliance, in cooperation with the Congressional Humanities Caucus. National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach provided opening remarks; the discussion was moderated by Cornell University President David Skorton.
National Humanities Alliance Briefing on the Humanities - Materials (NHAlliance.org)
Briefing on the Humanities in the 21st Century - Video (youtube.com)
SAFRA ONE YEAR LATER
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), passed in May 2010 as part of the Healthcare Reform Act, was an attempt to rein in the student loan industry and save money by taking private lenders out of the equation. But a year later, educators, parents, and legislators are asking, is the program delivering on its goals?
SAFRA One Year Later (universitybusiness.com)
A DEBATE REOPENED: GRADUATE ASSISTANTS - STUDENTS OR WORKERS?
When graduate students teach some classes as instructors while also taking others as students, what are they, exactly -- workers or students?
This question has been at the heart of a series of National Labor Relations Board decisions over the past 10 years that have tried to determine whether graduate and research assistants have the right to unionize. Each new decision has reinterpreted the precedent set in the previous one, with each new ruling often depending on the political make-up of the board (which, in turn, depends on the party occupying the White House).
Last week, a regional official of the NLRB issued a new ruling that set the stage for the NLRB to find that teaching assistants are employees entitled to unionize. The decision technically cited the most recent NLRB ruling, which found that T.A.s are students and not given the right to unionize at private colleges and universities. But the decision used language to suggest that this precedent was incorrect -- and the decision's logic was embraced by union advocates who will now bring the case to the NLRB asking for a new ruling.
A Debate Reopened (InsideHigherEd)