At a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee meeting Thursday, George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera detailed the benefits of researchers spending more time on their work and less time on searching for funding. He also took the opportunity to tout George Mason’s growing research portfolio.
Addressing the House Research and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, Cabrera noted the intense competition for resources as public funding shrinks for universities. He noted that budget constraints incentivize innovation and encourage efficiency but also pull researchers away from the important work they do.
As the success rate for funding decreases, the cost of applying for funding increases.
“Mason and other institutions like us, while trying to hold the line on tuition increases, cannot afford to hire additional administrative staff to comply with increased regulations,” Cabrera said. “Increased administrative burden then falls on the researchers themselves, which reduces the amount of time they can spend in their labs doing research that advances our national innovation agenda.”
Mason in 2011 was the first of four schools to participate in a Payroll Certification Pilot project designed for federal agencies and research universities to conduct productive research with less time devoted to administration. Cabrera reported that that Payroll Certification has resulted in 85 percent fewer reports and a more efficient and flexible process that has reduced costs without sacrificing compliance.
Cabrera also cited Mason’s growing research portfolio in more than a dozen areas, including cybersecurity and biomedicine, and shared with the subcommittee recent advancements by Mason researchers, including an improved Lyme disease test, new cancer treatments, enhanced understanding of how transnational crime relates to terrorism, improved protection for our cyber-physical systems and advanced civil infrastructure monitoring techniques.
Cabrera thanked Comstock and Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, the ranking member of the House Research and Technology Subcommittee, for proposing bills that would result in reducing unnecessary regulation and expedite research and innovation.
Comstock has been a frequent visitor to Mason and recently met with Mason researchers to tour the Institute for Biomedical Innovation and the Virginia Serious Game Institute, both on the Science and Technology Campus in Prince William County. Cabrera extended a similar invitation to Lipinski.