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Regulatory Excess

Regulatory Excess

Last year we faced a crescendo of faculty concerns about excessive, unnecessary or unexplained regulations. Focus was particularly on human subjects review, which has since been substantially modified. But there was a general sense that things were spinning out of control.

So we came up with a statement about proper procedures: try, whenever possible, to warn of new regulations before they take hold and get feedback in advance as well; explain why a new regulation is needed as clearly as possible. We also revised some regulations that were seen as particularly troubling, beyond the human subjects issue, and redefined an existing committee, UPIC, chaired by Beth Brock, to deal with concerns as they come up (they’ve helped with one issue on the eVA system so far). And we agreed that we should have an annual forum where faculty or others could raise issues.

We just had our second forum. Representatives of regulatory groups and, of course, UPIC, attended. Few faculty showed up. Certainly the climate seems calmer than it was last year, so I actually think we did some good. Concerns about eVA still surfaced, and we all agree it would be great if the state took more notice of how burdensome this system is. We also agreed that faculty can let me know if a particular unit seems less aware of the guidelines we crafted last year than it should be, so I can remind them.

But I am pleased that we seem to have made some positive strides in an area that, obviously, is not always in our control. At the same time, I do want to restate our willingness to hear complaints about regulatory issues or unclarities — it’s far better to listen early than to have needless aggravation over time.