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GAO Report on Firearm Storage Highlights Lack of Federal Funding for Gun Research

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report entitled Personal Firearms: Programs that Promote Safe Storage and Research on Their Effectiveness that compiles information on public and non-profit programs promoting safe storage of personal firearms and the results of research on the effectiveness of such programs. The report was produced at the request of 19 Democratic senators, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). The report finds that “there is relatively little research on safe firearm storage,” and that “lack of funding and data” is often cited as a primary reason. According to the report, funding shortages and instability has limited the research on firearm safety and storage that could have been conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The report cites an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that compared available funding and publication volume for research on various leading causes of death and found that “research on firearms receives disproportionately low funding and has fewer publications compared to other top causes of death.” The lack of funding can lead to shortage of expertise in the field. One researcher interviewed told the GAO that “he discourages new students from firearm research exclusively because they will not be able to make a living in that research area alone.” Further, a shortage of high-quality data on firearms exacerbates the difficulty of conducting research in this area. The CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) has not included questions related to firearm safety since 2004. However, the CDC does plan to add a module on firearms in the 2017 survey, on the recommendation of the National Academy of Medicine.

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

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Bill Approved by Committee

On September 7, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill; the Labor-HHS Subcommittee advanced the bill on September 5. This bill contains annual funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Education (ED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), among other federal departments and agencies. The House Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill on July 19; the bill recently passed the House as part of a 12-bill omnibus (see related article).

The next step for the bill is consideration by the full Senate. However, Congress recently struck a deal with the White House on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded into next fiscal year (which begins October 1) through December 8. This is intended to provide additional time for lawmakers to come to agreement on overall budget levels, including the spending caps that are currently casting a major shadow on the FY 2018 appropriations bills; the bills have been written to exceed the caps currently set in law, signaling that a budget deal could be negotiated in the weeks ahead.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Education.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 19), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Senate Testimony Calls for Funding for NIH, AHRQ, CDC, Education Programs

On June 2, COSSA submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The testimony calls for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and International Education and Foreign Language Programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays).

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Testimony Calls for Funding for NIH, AHRQ, CDC, Education Programs

On March 8, COSSA submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The testimony calls for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and International Education and Foreign Language Programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays).

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NCHS Seeks Comments on Redesign of National Health Interview Survey

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking comments on the redesign of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to be fielded in 2018. NHIS, which has been in the field continuously since 1957, is the “principal source of information on the health of the civilian noninstitutionalized population” of the U.S. According to the Federal Register notice, “the redesign process presents an opportunity to (1) ensure the survey is capturing the current health and health care needs of individuals in the United States and producing data of the highest-possible quality; and (2) reduce respondent burden by shortening the overall questionnaire length and harmonizing its content with other federal health surveys.” Comments are due November 7, 2016.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 18), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

NIOSH Requests Input on Motor Vehicle Safety Research Priorities

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is looking for input from the scientific community on the direction of its motor vehicle safety research efforts (see its Center for Motor Vehicle Safety strategic plan). Specifically, the Institute is seeking feedback on its research priorities, communications and outreach efforts, and how its products are used by stakeholders. Comments may be submitted in writing by October 14, 2016 or during a public web meeting on September 14, 2016. More information is available in the Federal Register.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 6), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Candidates Sought for CDC Health Disparities Advisory Subcommittee

The Health Disparities Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ACD, CDC) is seeking nominations for new members. The Subcommittee provides expert advice to the CDC Director and Health and Human Services leadership on ways to reduce health disparities, including through research, program and policy analysis, and other CDC activities. Candidates should have expertise in “health policy, public health, global health, preparedness, preventive medicine, the faith-based and community-based sector, and allied fields.” More information is available in the Federal Register notice. Nominations are due by September 30, 2016.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 6), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

State of Play: FY 2017 Funding for Social Science Research

Congress has adjourned for a seven-week recess and will not be returning to work until after Labor Day. Despite promises for a return to “regular order” in the annual appropriations process, we find ourselves in familiar territory with none of the 12 annual spending bills expected to be enacted into law before the new fiscal year begins October 1. In fact, none of the bills that fund research agencies and programs (the Commerce, Justice Science bill and the Labor, HHS, Education bill) have yet to make it to the House or Senate floors for debate.

Upon returning to work in September, Congress will be faced with a full plate of must-pass legislation and a limited number of days before breaking again for the fall elections. Among the countless unknowns surrounding a possible endgame strategy for appropriations is one certainty – the need to pass a stopgap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to avoid a government shutdown come October 1. The length of the impending CR, though, is still up for debate. Scenarios range from a CR of a couple of months with final action completed in the December timeframe (forcing a lame duck session of Congress after the November elections), to a six-month-long CR that would delay action until after the new Administration and Congress are sworn in, to possibly a year-long continuing resolution that would fund agencies at the FY 2016 level through the end of next fiscal year. These details will need to be sorted out over the next several weeks, and consensus remains far-off. However, all parties appear equally committed to avoiding a government shutdown.

COSSA has been reporting on the status of the FY 2017 appropriations bills over the last several months. Read on for a recap of progress made to date as it relates to social and behavioral science research. Congress will pick up where it left off when Members return to work in September. Full details on the various bills considered so far can be viewed on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 26), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Senate Presses Forward on 2017 Spending Bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee has been making progress over the last several weeks on its fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills in an effort to pass as many of the bills as possible before heading home in mid-July for the party conventions and August recess (follow all of the developments on the COSSA website).  The FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill, which made it out of Committee on April 21, is expected to be on the Senate floor later this week. Stay tuned – COSSA will be closely monitoring the floor debate as this is when we could see amendments that could harm social science research accounts.

In addition, on June 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out the FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill. This bill serves as the vehicle for annual appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Education (ED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as well as many other federal departments and agencies. Committee members noted that this bill represents the first bipartisan Senate Labor-HHS bill in seven years; this tends to be one of the more controversial and divisive of the 12 appropriations bills given that it provides funding for the Department of Health and Human Services and sections of the Affordable Care Act. The House has yet to release its version of the bill, but is rumored to have something ready by the end of the month.

Check out COSSA’s in-depth analysis for full details.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 14), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Lawmakers Call for CDC Gun Research

On May 31, 146 Members of Congress signed a letter in support of eliminating appropriations riders that have prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from conducting research on gun violence prevention since 1996 (the “Dickey amendment”). The bipartisan letter, led by Rep. David Price (D-NC) states, “Although Members of Congress may disagree about how best to respond to the high incidence of gun violence, we should all be able to agree that our response should be informed by sound scientific evidence,” and argues that Congress should “allow the research community to investigate evidence-based solutions that could help prevent gun violence while still protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.” A letter in the Senate circulated in March by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) also called for the CDC to conduct gun violence prevention research. In April, COSSA joined more than 100 other societies and organizations in calling for an end to the ban.

The gun control debate has been renewed with greater urgency after this weekend’s tragic mass shooting in Orlando. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised to force votes on loopholes allowing individuals on the terrorist watch list to purchase guns as part of the debate on the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill this week (for more on CJS, see related story).

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 14), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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