NIH OLAW, USDA Seek Feedback to Streamline Regulations and Policies

By The National Institute of Health (NIH), Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) 

Administrative and related responsibilities are key components to conducting federally funded research. However, in previous Federal Demonstration Partnership Faculty Workload surveys (2018, 2012, 2005), investigators reported they were spending almost half of their available research time focusing on administrative and related tasks instead of the content of their research projects.

For investigators engaged in research involving animals, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)-related requirements were reported to be by far the most time-consuming.

As a result, the 21st Century Cures Act (21CCA) mandated that the NIH OLAW, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration identify and take steps to reduce inconsistent, overlapping, and unnecessarily duplicative regulations and improve coordination of regulations and policies. The agencies developed guidance based on input obtained from stakeholders and interest groups. The USDA issued a final rule in the Federal Register outlining five workload reducing changes, which became effective on December 27, 2021. OLAW continues to release flexibilities and updates based on the action items described in the final report, Reducing Administrative Burden for Researchers, and published on their dedicated 21st Century Cures Act webpage.

The NIH OLAW and USDA are asking for feedback from IACUC administrators, coordinators, and others involved directly in the oversight of animal care and use programs, by completing a 15–20-minute voluntary online survey. This survey is intended to obtain insight on their efforts to reduce administrative workload, while maintaining the integrity and credibility of research findings and the protection of research animals.  

IACUC administrators, coordinators, and others whose responsibilities include a direct role in the oversight of the institutional animal care and use program often work closely with investigators at their institutions. They have a strong understanding of animal research regulations and policy and help to guide and assist investigators with administrative and compliance requirements. Therefore, the NIH OLAW and USDA have designed a survey specifically geared towards IACUC administrative staff. The survey should help to inform the NIH OLAW and USDA on the following:

  1. Are Assured and USDA-Registered institutions aware of the 21CCA NIH OLAW flexibilities and USDA updates?
  2. Have the flexibilities and updates been implemented and incorporated into institutional animal care and use programs?
  3. Has implementation of the flexibilities and updates helped to reduce administrative workload for investigators?

The results of the IACUC Administrator survey will help in the development of a final survey geared towards investigators. The survey will also inform the NIH OLAW and the USDA on the effectiveness of the flexibilities and updates and additional measures that may be implemented to assist institutions in mitigating administrative workload, thereby allowing investigators more time to focus on their research.

How to Take the Survey

A survey link was distributed to one administrative contact from each Domestic Assured institution and USDA Registered research facilities via email on June 1st, from

  • Only one survey response per institution will be permitted and accepted (per assurance number and/or registration).
  • The survey will close on August 31st, 2023.
  • This survey is completely voluntary. There are no negative consequences from the participating federal agencies for taking part or choosing not to complete the survey.

 If you have any questions or your institution would like to participate, please contact