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Government Affairs Update

Federal Relations

Before adjourning in mid-November, the 107th Congress took action on two important pieces of legislation that will have a major impact on the University of Pennsylvania.

Homeland Security Act

The Homeland Security Act, creating the new federal Department of Homeland Security, has passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 25.

The bill is broad and far-reaching, and will result in a major restructuring of federal agencies. Provisions of specific interest to the University of Pennsylvania and the research university community are:

  • establishes an Undersecretary for Science and Technology to direct research priorities for the new Department and to coordinate with other research agencies.
  • maintains bioterrorism research funding and health research priority-setting in the Department of Health and Human Services, primarily NIH and CDC.
  • creates the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) to administer a new Acceleration Fund--authorized at $500 million in FY2003--"to award competitive, merit-reviewed grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts to public or private entities, including businesses, federally-funded research and development centers, and universities."
  • authorizes a "university-based center or centers for homeland security," to be selected based on 15 criteria laid out in the measure. (*For a list of these criteria contact It is widely believed that these criteria were created to favor Texas A&M University, but other institutions--including Penn--believe that they are also eligible to compete.
  • puts in place a Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee, with 20 members to be appointed by the Undersecretary for Science and Technology.
  • creates a federally-funded research and development center, to be known as the "Homeland Security Institute" to perform analytical functions.
  • establishes an Office of Science and Technology within the Department of Justice responsible for law enforcement technology.

The Homeland Security Act will consolidate 22 federal agencies and will involve more than 170,000 federal employees. Under the law, the administration will have one year to bring together the 22 agencies. The department will consist of four sub-agencies--Border and Transportation Security, Emergency Preparedness, Technology, and Intelligence--as well as the Coast Guard and Secret Service, which will stand alone.

The first step in the process of establishing the agency calls for the administration to submit to Congress a detailed master plan for how it will accomplish the reorganization. Once President Bush sends the master plan to Capitol Hill, the administration will have 90 days to plan for the creation of the department, with emphasis placed on integrating computer and e-mail systems so the employees can communicate, and on consolidating various agencies' terrorist watch lists. Congress will decide how to oversee and fund the new Department when it convenes for the 108th Congress in January.

* The Homeland Security Act establishes "a university-based center or centers for homeland security. The purpose of this center or centers shall be to establish a coordinated, university-based system to enhance the Nation's homeland security."

National Science Foundation Reauthorization

The Congress on November 15 sent to President Bush the National Science Foundation reauthorization bill, which will double funding for the agency over five years. The measure is widely viewed as a victory for the higher education and scientific communities.

The bill authorizes Congress to appropriate about $5.5 billion to NSF for FY2003--of this money, $4.15 billion is directed toward research and related activities. In the final year of the doubling, FY2007, NSF will receive $9.8 billion. These increases are contingent upon the agency meeting management requirements imposed by the Office of Management and Budget.

As an authorization bill, this measure does not actually provide funding, but rather sets recommended spending levels for the appropriations committees, which allocate money.

Survey on International Students and Faculty Indicates Post-9/11 Changes

According to a recent survey by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the number of international students at major U.S. research universities has increased since last year's terrorist attacks; the number of international scholars and researchers, on the other hand, has declined. The survey also found an increase in visa delays and denials for international students and scholars.

Over the 20 institutions that participated in the survey, international student enrollments increased by an average of 4 percent, while the number of international scholars and researchers dropped by an average of 11 percent. Visa delays for international students rose from 134 to 357, while delays for scholars rose from 561 to 644. Visa denials for international students increased from 168 to 247 and for scholars from 42 to 60.

Complete survey results are available on the AAU website:

State Relations

On Wednesday November 20, Governor-elect Edward G. Rendell named a 28-member task force aimed at addressing both short-term and long-term policies to address Pennsylvania's medical malpractice crisis. The task force is expected to work closely with the Pew Foundation that has sponsored a multi-year, multi-million dollar study of Pennsylvania's medical malpractice crisis. Dr. Ana McKee, a faculty member and the Chief Medical Officer and Associate Executive Director at Presbyterian, has been named to sit on the task force. Twenty-eight people have been named to date including six members of the plaintiffs' bar, five defense lawyers, two representatives from health care organizations, four representatives from the PA Medical Society/physician community, four insurance representatives, 4 legislative staff members, one labor representative and one representative from the business community. The Chair of the task force is former Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Abraham Gafni.

The task force is charged with reporting back to Governor-elect Rendell within 60 days (by January 20) on four possible short-term solutions to the medical malpractice crisis. The task force will also be asked to recommend long-term solutions following an examination of the tort system generally and industry practices. The Office of Government, Community & Public Affairs, along with the Health System Office of Government Relations, will carefully assess and report on the workings of the task force.

Community Relations Update

To promote the most effective relationships with the communities served by the University and Penn Medicine, Glenn Bryan, Director of City and Community Relations for the University, will assume responsibility for outreach and community relations for the Health System and School of Medicine. Glenn's increased scope of responsibilities takes advantage of the effective structure that exists already in support of his University-based activities and supplements the outreach efforts he also provides for the School of Nursing and School of Dental Medicine.

Working through a single Office of Community Affairs is the most efficient way to build and maintain relationships in the various communities we serve, including our campus-based West Philadelphia community. Indeed, a non-duplicative University/Penn Medicine approach to community relations should enhance the level of services we can provide such as for community-based services, research initiatives, and obtaining community input regarding relevant Health System activities. Glenn's initiatives on behalf of the Health System and School of Medicine will be coordinated with Alan N. Rosenberg, Esq., Associate Executive Vice President with responsibility for government relations and communications for Penn Medicine. We are working together to develop a new Community Relations Strategic Plan for Penn Medicine -- which will require input from leaders within Penn Medicine, the University and community.

We want to thank Marla Davis for her service as the former Director of the Department of Community Affairs for the Health System. While Marla stepped down from that position this past May, she continued to assist the Health System in support of the recently held Men's Health Conference.

Glenn Bryan can be reached at his University office (215) 898-3565 or Penn Medicine office (215) 662-3499. Alan Rosenberg can be reached at (215) 662-2271.

We look forward to continued effective interactions and communications between Penn Medicine and the communities we serve.

-- Carol R. Scheman, Vice President for Government,
Community and Public Affairs

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 15, December 10, 2002