[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 61 (Friday, March 29, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 19329-19330]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-07313]


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NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION


Request for Information (RFI): Reducing Investigator's 
Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research

Key Dates

    Release Date: March 25, 2013.
    Response Date: May 24, 2013.

Issued by

    National Science Foundation (NSF).

Purpose

    This RFI offers principal investigators with Federal research 
funding the opportunity to identify Federal agency and university 
requirements that contribute most to their administrative workload and 
to offer recommendations for reducing that workload. Members of the 
National Science Board's Task Force on Administrative Burdens do not 
wish to increase your administrative workload with this request and you 
may choose to answer only those questions that are most pertinent to 
you. Your responses will provide vital input so that we can implement 
agency-level changes and offer recommendations to reduce unnecessary 
and redundant administrative requirements.

Background

    Over the past decade two Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) 
Faculty Workload Surveys (2005 and 2012) indicate that administrative 
burdens associated with Federal research funding are consuming roughly 
42% of an awardee's available research time, a figure widely cited in 
numerous articles and reports. To help address these issues, the 
National Science Board (Board) recently created a Task Force on 
Administrative Burdens. The Task Force is charged with examining the 
burden imposed on Federally-supported researchers at U.S. colleges, 
universities, and non-profit institutions. Responses to this RFI will 
be considered as the Board develops recommendations to ensure 
investigators' administrative workload is at an appropriate level.

Request for Information

    The Task Force is seeking a response to the questions below. In 
your response, please reference the question number to which you are 
responding.

Sources of Administrative Work and Recommendations for Reducing Work

    1. What specific requirements associated with your Federally-funded 
grants require you personally to do the greatest amount of 
administrative work? Where possible, please indicate whether the origin 
of that administrative work is a requirement at your institution, a 
Federal requirement, or a requirement from another institution. What 
recommendations would you offer that might help to reduce the level of 
work?
    2. Principal investigators responding to the FDP's 2012 Faculty 
Workload Survey identified the following sources of administrative 
work, in addition to human subject protection and animal care treated 
below, as particularly burdensome for Federal grantees:
    [ssquf] Grant progress report submissions;
    [ssquf] Finances (e.g. managing budget-to-actual expenses, 
equipment and supplies purchases, and other financial issues/
requirements);
    [ssquf] Personnel management, hiring, and employee evaluation, and 
visa issues;
    [ssquf] Effort reporting;
    [ssquf] Conflict of interest;
    [ssquf] Responsible conduct of research;
    [ssquf] Lab safety/security;
    [ssquf] Data sharing; and,
    [ssquf] Sub-contracts (e.g. overseeing: progress toward project 
goals and deadlines; budget expenditures, invoices, and other financial 
matters; and, compliance and safety/security issues).
If not addressed in question 1, for any of the areas listed, do you 
believe that the associated requirements significantly increase the 
amount of administrative work you personally need to perform? Where 
possible please indicate whether the source of the required 
administrative work is a requirement at your institution, a Federal 
requirement, or a requirement from another institution. What 
recommendations would you offer that might help to reduce the level of 
work?
    3. Do you receive administrative support from your institution for 
Federal grants? If yes, for what specific preparation, reporting, and 
compliance requirements do you receive administrative support? Is the 
amount of support excellent, good, adequate, poor, or non-existent? 
Where does your administrative support come from within the institution 
(e.g. office of the

[[Page 19330]]

vice president for research, office of sponsored programs, a 
department, a laboratory, others)? What additional administrative 
support would you like to receive from your institution?

Institutional Review Boards (IRB)/Institutional Animal Care and Use 
Committees (IACUC)

    4. If you are conducting human or vertebrate animal research 
requiring IRB or IACUC approval, what requirements (e.g. preparing 
protocols for initial review, annual reviews and re-writes, completing 
revisions requested by reviewers, and satisfying training and other 
Federal requirements) create the most administrative work? Is the work 
completed primarily by you or others? Are there particular practices 
used by your university's IRB/IACUC process that contribute to or 
subtract from the administrative work you must perform to meet Federal 
and Institutional requirements? What recommendations would you offer 
that might help to reduce the level of work?

Proposals

    5. Investigators responding to the FDP 2012 Faculty Workload Survey 
indicated that 15 percent of their research time associated with a 
Federal award is devoted to proposal preparation. Are there 
administrative tasks associated with proposal preparation that increase 
your personal administrative workload? Please provide specific 
examples. What recommendations would you offer Federal agencies for 
reducing the level of administrative work necessary to submit a grant 
proposal while maintaining the details needed to evaluate the merit and 
feasibility of the proposed research?

Agency Specific Requirements and Multiple Agencies

    6. From which agencies do you receive Federal funding? In your 
opinion, have you observed outcomes related to data or information that 
you have provided at the request of Federal agencies? If you receive 
funding from multiple agencies do you believe that there are 
overlapping or redundant interagency requests or requirements that 
increase your administrative workload? How might these requirements be 
streamlined across Federal agencies?
    7. If you receive funding from NSF, are there NSF-specific 
requirements that you believe create significant administrative work 
for you? What steps would you suggest NSF take to reduce the level of 
work necessary to comply with the requirement(s)?

Reform Efforts

    8. The Office of Management of Budget (OMB) has recently proposed 
reforms to administrative requirements for Federal awards, including:
    (a) Guidance that clarifies the circumstances under which 
institutions may charge administrative support as a direct cost under 
certain conditions, including where the support is integral to a 
project or activity, can be specifically allocated to it, is explicitly 
included in the budget, and is not also recovered as indirect costs.
    (b) Reforms to effort reporting, including using employee payroll 
reports from institutional automated payroll systems to comply with 
effort reporting requirements.
What if any effect do you believe these proposed reforms would have on 
your administrative workload? Would you utilize direct charging if the 
guidance is finalized? To what extent would you utilize it (i.e., what 
% of funds)?

Professional/Institutional Information

    The following information will allow us to assess the influence of 
institution size/administrative capacity, academic rank, and field of 
study on the level and type of administrative work reported but is not 
required.
    9. What is your academic rank? What is your field of study? Please 
indicate which of the following best describes your institution:
    [ssquf] Public research institution with medical school
    [ssquf] Public research institution without medical school
    [ssquf] Private research institution
    [ssquf] Public master's institution
    [ssquf] Private master's institution
    [ssquf] Primarily undergraduate institution
    [ssquf] Minority-serving institution
    [ssquf] Non-profit/for profit institution

How to Submit a Response

    All responses and should be submitted by email to: Administrative-Reform@nsf.gov.
    Responses to this RFI will be accepted through May 24, 2013. You 
will not receive individualized feedback on any suggestions. Individual 
or aggregate responses may be referenced in a final report; however the 
Board will not attribute any comments by name. Email addresses will be 
anonymized and responses kept confidential consistent with our 
obligations to comply with a judicial or administrative subpoena, or a 
FOIA request pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552. Please note that any personal 
information contained within the body of the email/response (i.e. 
signature lines) will be retained if not deleted by the sender. No 
basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of 
a response to this request for information or from the Government's use 
of such information. Any questions or inquiries should be sent to: 
Administrative-Reform-Inquiries@nsf.gov.

Ann Bushmiller,
Senior Legal Counsel, National Science Board.
[FR Doc. 2013-07313 Filed 3-28-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7555-01-P