Scientists and university faculty are seeing some progress in their struggle under new and often-confusing security restrictions legislated in the wake of September 11. Visa processing for foreign scholars and graduate students is improving, but other areas, including approvals for scientists and university laboratories to handle potential bioterror agents, remain riddled with inconsistencies and bureaucratic obstructions.

Unless resolved, some of these barriers could themselves endanger public safety and the US scientific enterprise, experts said at a meeting this week of the Federal Demonstration Partnership, a cooperative initiative to streamline administrative processes involving federal agencies and researchers receiving federal funds.

"The paperwork flow is a roadblock to science and public health," said Jim Tracy, associate dean for research and a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW). Tracy, who serves on his university's biosafety committee, said key government agencies are still working out internal procedures and...

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