Blog Archives

House Passes Omnibus Spending Bill Along with Problematic NSF Amendment

After two weeks of debate and votes on hundreds of amendments, the House of Representatives has passed an omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, consisting of all twelve spending bills. The omnibus includes the same funding levels for social science research as the Commerce-Justice-Science and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bills that were passed by the House Appropriations Committee. While the proposed funding levels were moderately good for social and behavioral science research, the House approved an amendment proposed by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, that could be detrimental to the social sciences. The amendment would require that about $30 million (or 0.5 percent) of the Research and Related Activities account at the National Science Foundation (NSF) be used only to support basic research in the biological and physical sciences. NSF currently prioritizes research investments based on the advice of its own experts and scholars and if this amendment became law, it could result in political influence into the NSF research process.

Two other amendments that targeted the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the Census Bureau, proposed by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) respectively, were not taken up for consideration on the floor and therefore did not pass.

The spending package has little chance of passing the Senate, but President Trump has already signed a short-term budget measure to keep the government open at current funding levels through December 8, giving Congress more time to come up with a deal for the rest of FY 2018. Read COSSA’s full coverage of the FY 2018 spending debate here.

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

Senate CJS Bill Approved by Committee; Congress Leaves for Recess

On July 27, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill; the bill was marked up in subcommittee on July 25. In addition, the House Appropriations Committee advanced its version of the CJS bill on July 13 (check out COSSA’s coverage of this and other FY 2018 appropriations bills). The CJS bill serves as the vehicle for annual appropriations for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and many other federal departments and agencies. The next step for the bill is consideration by the full Senate. However, now that Congress has left town for the August recess, we will not see floor action until after Labor Day at the earliest.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census Bureau, and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 8), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Census Science Advisory Committee Seeking Nominations

The Census Bureau has issued a call for nominations for membership to the Census Scientific Advisory Committee. This committee advises the Director of the Census Bureau on data collection, statistical analysis, econometrics, cognitive psychology, and a variety of other scientific areas pertaining to Census Bureau programs and activities. According to the notice in the Federal Register, “Nominees must have scientific and technical expertise in such areas as demography, economics, geography, psychology, statistics, survey methodology, social and behavioral sciences, Information Technology, computing, or marketing.” The deadline for applications is August 11, 2017. More information is available in the Federal Register.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Former Census Director to Lead Statistics Group

John Thompson, who resigned as Director of the Census Bureau last month, has been appointed Executive Director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS), effective July 24. Before being appointed to lead Census in 2013, Thompson was the President and CEO of NORC at the University of Chicago. He succeeds Katherine Smith Evans, who served as Executive Director since October 2012 and has been named the Washington Area Representative for the American Economic Association. COSSA looks forward to continuing to work closely with COPAFS on issues affecting federal statistical agencies and welcomes Thompson in his new role.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Thompson Leaves Census Bureau; Acting Director Named

On June 30, John Thompson officially resigned as Director of the Census Bureau, after unexpectedly announcing his planned departure in May. Effective July 1, Ron Jarmin will become Acting Director of the Bureau. Jarmin has been with the Census Bureau since 1992 and currently serves as Associate Director for Economic Programs. Enrique Lamas, Associate Director for Demographic Programs, will serve as Acting Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, a position that has been vacant for several months. In addition, the Department of Commerce announced that Secretary Wilbur Ross has hired Arnold Jackson as a consultant. Jackson oversaw the 2010 Census as Associate Director for the Decennial Census.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 11), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Census Bureau Director Resigns, Complicating Outlook for 2020 Decennial

On May 9, John Thompson announced his plans to step down as Director of the Census Bureau effective June 30. Thompson’s resignation comes at a critical time for the Bureau as it ramps up its activities ahead of the 2020 Census and continues to face periodic threats to the American Community Survey. So far, no details have emerged about a potential replacement. The Deputy Director position at the Bureau has been vacant since Nancy Potok left to become Chief Statistician of the United States in January.

No reason was given for Thompson’s departure in the middle of a year-long extension to his term (which had expired at the end of 2016).The week before this announcement, Thompson appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies for an oversight hearing on the 2020 Census. Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) had several sharp questions for the Director on projected cost overruns on IT systems for the decennial census, the government’s largest non-military undertaking. Culberson also expressed concern about the American Community Survey, calling it “intrusive.”

The next director will have to contend with a funding climate in which investment in the Bureau, which typically increases significantly in the years leading up to a decennial census, has fallen well below similar points in the cycle, with a fairly small increase passed for fiscal year (FY) 2017 and nearly flat funding proposed by the Administration for FY 2018. Without adequate investment, the task of conducting a fair and accurate 2020 Census will become increasingly challenging—and more expensive down the line.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 16), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Testimony Calls for Increased Funding for NSF, NIJ, Census, and Other Agencies

On April 21, COSSA submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The testimony calls for increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the Census Bureau. You can read this and other statements on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 9 (May 2), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Calls for Congress to Complete FY 2017 Appropriations Process

In a letter to House and Senate appropriators on the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Subcommittees, COSSA called for speedy completion of the FY 2017 appropriations process. The letter also urges strong appropriations for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Census Bureau. The letter is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Census Bureau Establishes 2020 Advisory Committee, Calls for Nominations

The Census Bureau announced the establishment of a Census Bureau 2020 Advisory Committee, which will provide expertise and advice to Bureau leadership on matters related to the planning and implementation of the 2020 decennial census. The Bureau is seeking nominations to fill the 25-member Committee, particularly candidates with expertise related to “diverse populations; national, state, local and tribal interest; hard-to-count populations; research; community-based organizations; academia; business interests; marketing and media industries; and professional associations.” More information is available in the Federal Register notice. Nominations must be submitted by January 19, 2017.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 10), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Letter to Conferees Advocates Funding for NSF, NIJ, BJS, and Census

As Congress returns to complete the business of funding the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2017, COSSA is advocating for strong funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and Census Bureau. In a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), COSSA highlights the important work of these agencies and asks that conferees support the “highest possible funding levels.” The full letter is available on the COSSA website. COSSA has weighed-in in support of other federal agency budgets through our many coalition efforts.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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