ACE and 19 other higher education associations submitted comments on Friday to the Department of Education in response to a request from Joe Conaty, co-chair of the Agency Reform Task Force, for feedback from education stakeholders regarding Executive Order 13781. That order called for individuals to submit ideas on how to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of federal agencies.
The letter expressed appreciation for the opportunity to provide feedback on ways in which the department can “best serve the needs of America’s students, families, and educators and implement its mission of educational excellence and equity.”
Improvements to the process by which the department develops regulations would enhance the ability of colleges and universities to effectively and efficiently put in place federal requirements, the groups said. Specifically, they suggested that changes be made to the negotiated rulemaking process that is frequently used to implement changes to the Higher Education Act and modify student aid program policies.
The Report of the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education, which was issued by a bipartisan group of senators in 2015, contains a thorough discussion of the department’s negotiated rulemaking process and the complications that occur within the existing structure. The groups said that a “better process would be more likely to result in consensus and, in doing so, would improve the regulatory outcomes.”
The letter urged the department to review the recommendations in the report that identify a number of areas where the department could amend or improve the way it currently manages this process.
ACE plans to submit more expansive comments in response to the June 22 Federal Register notice asking for input on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement or modification.