NSB Report: Excessive Regulations Turning Scientists Into Bureaucrats

May 2014

A report issued by a National Science Board (NSB) task force on May 1 says that “excessive regulations are consuming scientists’ time and wasting taxpayer dollars” and makes a host of recommendations for reducing the administrative burden on federally funded researchers.

Thousands of federally funded scientists responded to NSB’s request to identify requirements they believe unnecessarily increase their administration workload. Among the most frequently reported areas were financial management; the grant proposal process; progress and other outcome reporting; human subjects research and institutional review boards (IRBs); time and effort reporting; and personnel management.

It was also suggested that more exemptions be offered for research that poses no threat of potential harm. The report notes that concerns specific to social and behavioral research in connection with proposed changes to the Common Rule are addressed in a recent NRC report.

The NSB report, Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research, recommends limiting proposal requirements to those essential to the evaluation of merit, keeping reporting focused on outcomes, and automating payroll certification for effort reporting. The report cites a continued lack of consistency in requirements within and between federal agencies and recommends the creation of a permanent high-level, interagency, inter-sector committee.