Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Federal update for September 29, 2011


House and Senate leaders on Monday evening, September 26, agreed on a plan to resolve the impasse over emergency disaster spending that has kept the Republican House and the Democratic Senate from agreeing on an FY12 continuing resolution (CR) needed to keep the government running when the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

Politico reports that the new plan includes two pieces:  a week-long package to sustain federal funding through next Tuesday, October 4, and the longer CR to last through November 18.  

The new version of the CR eliminates the $1 billion in FY11 disaster assistance and the $1.6 billion in spending offsets from energy-related programs included in the original House-passed bill.  It was the proposed offsets for emergency disaster aid in the House bill that sparked the House-Senate disagreement.  The new version includes the House bill's $2.65 billion for FY12 emergency disaster assistance, without offsets.   Additional emergency disaster assistance could be added later in the year, also without offsets, because the Budget Control Act that was agreed to in August provides for up to $11.3 billion in additional emergency disaster relief aid in FY12.      


The Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) has released an executive summary of its survey of the administrative impact of reporting requirements for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which shows that additional costs for survey respondents averaged nearly $8,000 per award.  Under ARRA regulations, colleges and universities are not allowed to seek government reimbursement for these added costs.  

The FDP survey found that for the 100 institutions responding, additional administrative costs averaged $7,973 per grant, with about one-third of the institutions adding administrative staff to assist with the added reporting and compliance requirements.  Those institutions that increased staff added an average of three to 3.3 full-time employees.  The full report will be published in October, 2011.  

Part of the significance of the FDP survey findings is that the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011 (H.R. 2146), introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), would extend most of the ARRA reporting requirements—with the most notable exception of the ARRA job reporting requirements—to non-ARRA federal research grants and contracts.  The bill would not require federal agencies to eliminate and replace other similar reporting requirements they already impose.    
The Federal Demonstration Partnership is a group of federal agencies, academic research institutions with administrative, faculty and technical representation, and research policy organizations that work to streamline the administration of federally sponsored research. The FDP is convened by the Government, University, Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academies.


The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire hosted representatives from each of the 13 UW System universities on September 23-25 for a workshop focused on setting goals to institutionalize undergraduate research across the UW System.  The workshop was funded by an award from the Council on Undergraduate Research.  The UW System was one of only three university systems in the nation to receive a CUR award to participate in the workshop program.  The CUR workshop program was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation's "Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement" program.  

Workshop participants identified common undergraduate research challenges and opportunities among UW System campuses and each developed a campus-specific plan to embed and sustain undergraduate research as a central pedagogical and scholarly endeavor within the System.  

(AAU and the UW System Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)