NAICU Washington Update

Task Force On Government Regulation Of Higher Education Holds First Meeting

February 18, 2014

The Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education kicked off its work at a February 12 meeting held at the American Council on Education (ACE) headquarters in Washington, DC.

The group, which includes six NAICU members, is charged with: (1) making specific recommendations regarding ways in which requirements administered by the Department of Education might be streamlined or eliminated; (2) quantifying the impact of all federal regulatory requirements impacting colleges; and (3) recommending ways in which the costs and benefits of future regulatory activity can be accurately assessed.

The Task Force was created by a bipartisan group of Senators, led by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Joining the effort are Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). Co-chaired by Nicholas Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, the task force is comprised of 16 members drawn from all sectors of higher education.

NAICU has long advocated for regulatory relief and has supported numerous initiatives directed at reducing the expense and burden of federal reporting and regulatory requirements. In addition to Chancellor Zeppos, the other NAICU members serving on the task force include Bill Armstrong, president of Colorado Christian University; Tom Chema, president of Hiram College; Margaret Drugovich, president of Hartwick College, Neil Kerwin, president of American University; and Claude Pressnell, president of the Tennessee Independent College and University Association.

At the opening meeting, the task force began with a conversation with Senators Alexander and Bennet on the purpose, scope and timeline of their work, which they hope will be completed by the end of the year. They then had an overview of the current regulatory situation by Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President, ACE, Division of Government and Public Affairs, that included the scope and size of the current regulations, the various processes that have led to overregulation and some of the options for and obstacles to deregulation. Following the ACE presentation, a number of other Washington associations representing various campus-based professional groups, talked about some of the more specific rules and challenges. It is generally agreed that while it makes most sense to focus on rules coming out of the Department of Education under the Higher Education Act, and therefore under the jurisdiction of the Senate HELP Committee, the possibility of recommending eliminating regulations from other agencies was not taken off the table.

Following lunch, President Drugovich, talked about her work to document the overall impact of regulations on her campus. Finally, the panel set forward a series of next steps and discussed ways to arrive at concrete outcomes for Congress by the end of the year.

The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for June 6. Between now and then, the Task Force will be firming up the scope of work and meeting in subcommittees to ensure a specific work product will be produced.

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