DC Digest — June 13, 2013

  • Launch of New Federal Relations and Duke in Washington Websites
  • Immigration Update: Senate Begins Full Consideration of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
  • NSF Releases Implementation Process for FY2013 Political Science Funding
  • Student Loan Interest Rate Update
  • Higher Education Community Submits Response to NSB on Faculty Regulatory Burden
  • White House Releases Report on Consolidation of Federal STEM Education Programs
  • Higher Education Expresses Support for DATA Act
  • Appropriations Update: Targets Set, House Begins Full Consideration of FY14 Funding Bills
  • Higher Education Community Submites Amicus Brief in Digital Copyright Case
  • Duke Congressional Breakfast

 

LAUNCH OF NEW FEDERAL RELATIONS AND DUKE IN WASHINGTON WEBSITES
The Office of Federal Relations is pleased to announce the launch of updated Federal Relations and Duke in Washington websites. Featuring new layouts, new features, and expanded pages for Duke in Washington, these sites will provide a platform for the Office of Federal Relations and Duke in Washington team to continue carrying out our missions of representing Duke University’s interests in Washington, D.C.

Visit these sites to find updates on the goings on in Washington and Durham, faculty testimony and expertise, University-wide policies on political activity, and a new feature, the “Capitol Connections” blog. We hope you’ll visit soon and often!

Read More:
Duke Federal Relations (governmentrelations.duke.edu)
Duke in Washington (washingtondc.duke.edu)

 

IMMIGRATION UPDATE: SENATE BEGINS FULL CONSIDERATION OF COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
On May 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), with provisions expanding the DREAM Act, increasing the number of available H1-B visas, and more stringent requirements regarding student visas.

Now, the bill moves to the Senate floor, where the Senators are currently in their second week of debate on the bill. Many expect debate to last several weeks, with a vote on final passage taking place in the final week of June.

The Office of Federal Relations staff will be closely monitoring developments and amendments relating to the university community.

 Read More:
Judiciary Committee Approves Sweeping Reform Bill (acenet.edu)
This Week in Immigration (brookings.edu)

 

NSF RELEASES IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS FOR FY2013 POLITICAL SCIENCE FUNDING
Last week, the NSF released guidance on how the foundation will implement the additional requirement of certifying that funds promote national security or economic interests of the United States, per legislation passed in March for the remainder of the fiscal year. NSF will continue to engage panels to review grant proposals, using the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts). Panels will also be asked to provide input on whether proposals meet one or both of the additional criteria of promoting national security or economic interests. Based on the advise of the review panels, NSF Program Officers will make funding recommendations. Currently, these additional criteria only apply to the program for FY13.

Read More:
Implementation of the 2013 Federal Continuing Appropriations Act provisions affecting the NSF Political Science Program (nsf.gov)
Wiggle room for Political Science? (insidehighered.com)

 

STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE UPDATE
With just a few weeks remaining until the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans is scheduled to double to 6.8 percent, policymakers remain at odds over how to prevent the increase.

The House approved the Smarter Solutions for Students Act (H.R. 1911) on May 23, which would prevent the increase on July 1 and tie future rate increases to the 10-year Treasury bond rate. The White House issued a veto threat for this proposal.

On June 6, the Senate considered two proposals, one from Senate Democratic leader and one from Senate Republican leadership, that would have prevented the interest rate increase. Both measures failed to pass the Senate. Like the House measure, the Senate Republicans sought a long-term fix tied to the Treasury bond rate. Senate Democrats want to retain the current 3.4-percent rate for two years, paid for by ending certain non-education tax benefits (S. 953).  Their goal is to negotiate a longer-term fix as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Read More:
Student Loan Interest Rates: A Fixed and Variable Debate (governmentrelations.duke.edu)
Evaluating Options on Loans (insidehighered.com)

 

HIGHER EDUCATION COMMUNITY SUBMITS RESPONSE TO NSB ON FACULTY REGULATORY BURDEN
Higher education associations, submitted a joint response to the request from the National Science Board (NSB) for information about the regulatory burden on faculty who receive federally funded research grants.

The comments, which were submitted in an on-line form, said that the solutions to the increasing administrative burden on faculty were clear:

“Federal agencies must harmonize their regulations, policies and procedures to streamline the requirements on investigators and institutions.  These regulations, policies and procedures should be performance-based in terms of the goals to be achieved, thus allowing institutions the greatest flexibility in meeting the goals.  The Federal government data management systems should provide a stable platform for the efficient submission of required data.  Finally, full recovery of the Facilities and Administration (F&A) costs will provide additional resources to the institution to assist.  The elimination of the cap on the administrative component of the F&A will ensure that the real costs of administration in the CURRENT regulatory environment will be shared by the institution and its Federal partners.  Agencies should be required to provide a rationale that is reviewed and certified by OMB before imposing limits on the amount of F&A recovered by the institutions.”

Read More:
AAU, APLU, COGR Submit Response to NSB on Faculty Regulatory Burden (pdf)

 

WHITE HOUSE RELEASES REPORT ON CONSOLIDATION OF FEDERAL STEM EDUCATION PROGRAMS
The White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) on May 31 released its five-year plan for better coordinating federal investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, including consolidating dozens of federal STEM education programs.  The report, which was prepared by the NSTC’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), was authorized by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.  The CoSTEM report reflects the STEM education reorganization and consolidation plan discussed in the President’s FY14 budget request.

Read More:
Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education 5-Year Strategic Plan (whitehouse.gov)

 

HIGHER EDUCATION EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR DATA ACT
Higher education associations sent a letter to Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) expressing support for the goals of the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act. This legislation would make federal spending data publically available and easily accessible, as well as establish government-wide financial data standards. A similar measure has also passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The letter indicates the university community’s commitment to use federal funds wisely and for their intended purposes. It also expresses support for a provision in the legislation that names universities as a stakeholder for streamlining federal funding reporting requirements.

Read More:
Letter_AAU_APLU_COGR_ DATA Act letter to Warner-Portman_5-29-13 (pdf)

 

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE: TARGETS SET, HOUSE BEGINS FULL CONSIDERATION OF FY14 FUNDING BILLS
On May 21, the House Appropriations Committee approved a plan to distribute all federal discretionary funding for the fiscal year 2014. As approved, the plan increases funding levels for defense- and security-related programs and offsets those increases with cuts to domestic programs. Under this proposal, the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations would be reduced by $27.8 billion, or 18.6 percent, from the post-sequester FY13 levels.

Last week, the House considered and approved the Military-Construction-Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Appropriations bills. The White House has threatened to veto these bills unless there is “an overall budget framework that supports our recovery and enables sufficient investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and national security for our economy to compete in the future.”

Read More:
Letter to Senators Mark Warner and Rob Portman (pdf)

 

HIGHER EDUCATION COMMUNITY SUBMITS AMICUS BRIEF IN DIGITAL COPYRIGHT CASE
Higher education associations submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the case Authors Guild v. HathiTrust Digital Library, in which the Authors Guild is charging that the digital repository is violating copyright by making some of its members’ work freely available.

HathiTrust is a partnership of more than 60 major research institutions, of which Duke is one, and libraries that have collaborated to digitize their collections to build a comprehensive online archive.

The Authors Guild appealed after the HathiTrust institutions were successful in the lower court. The consensus of higher education copyright experts is that this is a crucial case for the future of distance learning and the digital age in education. According to ACE General Counsel Ada Meloy, a reversal would be a serious defeat for the doctrine of fair use and the advancement of technology in higher education.

Read More:
ACE Files Amicus Brief in Digital Copyright Case (acenet.edu)

 

DUKE CONGRESSIONAL BREAKFAST
Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV) (T ’71) and Scott Peters (D-CA) (T ’80, P ’13, ’16) headlined the 2013 Duke Congressional Breakfast, where they reflected upon their experiences at Duke and their pathways to public service. Speaking to a group of 50 Duke alumni, friends, and family, the two Congressmen provided brief remarks on their careers, districts, and work in Congress before taking questions from the audience.