Blog Archives

National Academies Calls for Better Integration of Social and Behavioral Science into Weather Enterprise

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has released a new consensus report, Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences Within the Weather Enterprise. Sponsored by the National Weather Service and the Office of Weather and Air Quality within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Highway Administration, the report acknowledges a “growing recognition that a host of social and behavioral factors determine how we prepare for, observe, predict, respond to, and are impacted by weather hazards” and that research and findings from the social and behavioral sciences must be better incorporated into the systems we use to predict and communicate information about the weather and hazards. The report proposes a framework for accomplishing this goal that includes ensuring the social sciences are represented in the leadership of weather organizations, building capacity to support social science research throughout the weather enterprise through sustained funding and professional support, and focusing on research to fill knowledge gaps, particularly system-level studies of the weather enterprise; risk assessment and responses; and message design, delivery, interpretation, and use. The complete report is available on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Releases Proactive Policing Report

On November 11, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, entitled Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities. The report evaluates the impact of proactive policing strategies on crime, communities, and racial disparities in policing. Proactive policing differs from traditional policing in that it targets the underlying causes of crime and disorder rather than reacting to crime after it occurs. The report concludes that sufficient scientific evidence supports the adoption of some proactive policing practices and that proactive policing is particularly effective in areas with high concentrations of crime and repeat offenders. Additionally, there was no evidence of adverse community receptiveness in those areas.

The report identifies a significant gap in knowledge surrounding long-term effects of proactive policing and calls for additional comprehensive research on whether police programs to enhance procedural justice improve perceptions of legitimacy and cooperation between communities and the police. During a webinar to mark the release of the report, David Weisburd, Chair of the authoring committee and Director of George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, commented on the “striking lack of social science evidence” available on violations of the law by police and the causes of racial disparities in police-citizen encounters. The report calls for a greater investment in researching what is “cost-effective, how such strategies can be maximized to improve the relationships between the police and the public, and how they can be applied in ways that do not lead to violations of the law by the public.”

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Erin Buechele of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Academies Decadal Survey Seeking Social Science Research Ideas to Improve Intelligence Analysis

As part of the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Science for Applications to National Security, the Committee for the Decadal Survey has opened a call for input from the scientific community to share innovative scientific approaches and research concepts. More specifically, the focus of this call for information is to identify cutting-edge research that might improve intelligence analysis within the next ten years. The Committee has created an IdeaBuzz website to allow the social and behavioral science research community to share ideas and engage in meaningful discussions about current and future trends in the social and behavioral sciences.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA events page. COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to jmilton@cossa.org.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Washington Update, Volume 36 Issue 21

Featured News

Congressional News

Federal Agency & Administration News

Publications & Community Events

COSSA Member Spotlight

Events Calendar

Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Rand Paul Introduces Bill to “Reform” Federal Research Grant System

On October 18, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Chair of the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hosted a hearing entitled “Broken Beakers: Federal Support for Research.” Following the hearing Sen. Paul introduced the BASIC Research Act (S. 1973) to “reform” the federal research grant system. The bill would alter how grant proposals at all federal research funding agencies are reviewed by adding non-expert members of the public to review panels and requiring all applications for federal research grants to be made public. The bill also proposes the elimination of the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create an Inspector General that would oversee the entire federal research enterprise.

The controversial legislation, which was summarized in Science magazine, has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee but currently has no cosponsors and an incredibly narrow path to passage. COSSA is watching the legislation and will report if or when action is needed.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Joins Societies in Requesting Changes to NIH Clinical Trial Policy

In a letter sent to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins on October 27, COSSA and 21 other scientific societies and associations requested that NIH revisit a new policy that alters the definition of “clinical trials” funded by the agency and institutes new reporting requirements for such research (see COSSA’s coverage of this issue). While the letter is supportive of the goal of enhancing transparency of NIH-funded research, including introducing registration and reporting requirements, the signatories express concern that “basic science research is being redefined as a clinical trial at NIH and that “basic science investigators will be unnecessarily burdened with requirements relating to conducting clinical trials that have nothing to do with their own research.” The organizations hope to work with NIH leadership to find a solution that addresses the concerns of the basic science community while still improving transparency for true clinical trial research.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Indirect Costs of Research

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held a hearing on October 24 on the role of facilities and administrative costs (also known as indirect costs) in supporting NIH-funded research. The hearing included testimony from Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Vice President of Research at the University of Oklahoma; Dr. Gary Gilliland, President of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Dr. Bruce Liang, Dean of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine; and Dr. Keith Yamamoto, Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Droegemeier’s written testimony included a history of the collaboration between universities and the federal government to support research, trends in facilities and administrative costs over time, and thorough explanation of the importance of federal support for these costs.

Committee leadership, including Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and witnesses agreed that facilities and administrative costs were key to supporting research and should not be arbitrarily restricted. Many committee members agreed with the witnesses that restricting facilities and administrative costs would have a strong negative impact on all research done at universities and that capping the rates at which universities can be reimbursed for these costs should not be used as a budget-cutting measure by Congress or the Administration.

Find more of COSSA’s coverage of facilities and administrative costs here.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

William Beach, Former Budget Committee Economist, Nominated as BLS Commissioner

The White House has nominated William Beach for a four-year term as Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), succeeding Erica Groshen, whose term expired in January, and William J. Wiatrowski, the Acting Commissioner since Groshen’s departure. Currently Vice President for Policy Research at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, Beach holds a Ph.D. in economics from the UK’s Buckingham University. Prior to joining the Mercatus Center, Beach served as the Chief Economist for the Senate Budget Committee’s Republican staff and the Lazof Family Fellow in Economics director of the Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation. BLS Commissioners must be confirmed by the Senate, and no date for a confirmation hearing has been announced at this time.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

GAO to Study Potential Federal Interference in Science

According the Washington Post, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will undertake a study of federal agencies’ scientific integrity policies and potential federal interference in the scientific process at the request of Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). Nelson, the Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, made the request in a letter dated September 25, 2017. Citing concerns stemming from reports of possible interference in the scientific process at the Environmental Protection Agency, changes to agencies’ public information related to climate change, and the cancellation of a study that might be damaging to the fossil fuel industry, Nelson asked the GAO to assess whether “the administration has violated scientific integrity policies by suppressing federally funded science, interfering with research grant activities, interfering in typical scientific processes, or restricting the freedom of federal scientists to communicate findings with the public.” While GAO agreed to Nelson’s request, it does not expect to begin work on the study for about four months, due to limited resources. The American Institute of Physics has published a more in-depth look at some of the context surrounding Nelson’s request.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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