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February 28, 2004

From One of My Day Jobs (Offtopic) [12:14 pm]

With the TPP applications process drawing to a conclusion (hopefully resulting in a little less weekend work!), here’s an article from the NYTimes that I missed that echoes what I and many others have found particularly notable in this cycle of the process: Decline Seen in Science Applications From Overseas

“It’s really what we’ve been fearing all along,” said Vic Johnson, associate director for public policy at the Association of International Educators. “It’s the accumulation of a lot of things that is just causing a change in the attractiveness of the United States as a destination for students and scholars.”

The General Accounting Office study said the nation’s system for issuing visas for research in sensitive areas was unnecessarily slow and cumbersome.

For example, it said, while the State Department, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are all involved in researching candidates for visas, the three agencies do not have data systems that can work with each other. In addition, the report said, it takes the State Department two weeks just to notify consular officials abroad once it has cleared a candidate to receive a visa.

“Everyone has to be willing to put up with more delays and bureaucracy in the post-Sept. 11 world,” Representative Sherwood Boehlert, the New York Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Science, said at a hearing on the report today. “But we still have an obligation to ensure that we are not needlessly alienating scholars from around the world who could help this nation, and that we are not unnecessarily hamstringing or burdening our universities and research centers.”

As this year’s crop of TMP general exam takers know already, there’s a pretty ambitious RFP (for a really ambitious amount of $$) out there that expects to resolve the problem cited in the second paragraph in this excerpt. As I did for them, I leave to the reader a consideration of Section C and then just how feasible such a program might be from an organizational, computational and institutional perspective.

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