Blog Archives

NSF Seeking Candidates for Director of Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The BCS Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction to the Division and implementing overall strategic planning. The BCS Division provides funding for research that helps advance scientific knowledge about the brain, human cognition, language, social behavior, and culture. Applications must be submitted by September 29, 2017. The position requirements can be found on USAJobs.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), 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)

National Science Board Accepting Nominations

Nominations are being sought for new members of the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that also serves as an independent advisor to the President and Congress on federal science policy. The Board consists of 24 members who serve staggered six-year terms, with the NSF director serving as a 25th ex officio member. Nominations are considered by the NSB, which makes recommendations to the White House. New members of the Board are appointed by the President. For the incoming class of 2018-2024, the NSB is particularly interested in individuals with expertise in enterprise risk management, international research collaborations, convergent research and grand challenges, promotion of diversity and minority serving institutions, Integrative social sciences, and STEM education and the science of learning, among others. The complete list and other selection criteria are available in the NSB’s Dear Colleague letter. More information on the nomination process is available on the NSB website. Nominations are due by September 8, 2017.

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

Why Social Science? Highlights the National Academies’ SBE Report

why-social-scienceThis week’s Why Social Science? post highlights the recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities. Produced at the request of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the report assesses the contributions of the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences to issues of national importance.
Read it here and subscribe.

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

National Academies Highlights the Value of Social Science

At the request of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee, chaired by Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to study the contributions of the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences to the national interest. The committee’s report, The Value of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities, published last week, is a ringing endorsement of the importance of these fields to addressing “nearly every major challenge the United States faces.” The report draws three conclusions: (1) SBE sciences “produce a better understanding of the human aspects of the natural world, contributing knowledge, methods, and tools that further the mission of the National Science Foundation;” (2) SBE sciences provide understanding, tools, and methods that help other agencies achieve their missions; (3) the SBE sciences have made contributions that “have been applicable to businesses and industry and that have enhanced the U.S. economy.” To support its findings, the report provides supporting examples detailing the contributions of SBE research to health, prosperity and welfare, national defense, progress in science, missions of other agencies, and industry and business.

The committee also issued four recommendations for NSF and the broader SBE community: (1) NSF should undertake a systematic and transparent strategic planning process related to SBE sciences; (2) NSF should “continue to support the development of tools, methods, and research teams” to advance SBE sciences, facilitate their interactions with other fields, and help NSF and other organizations more effectively address national needs; (3) NSF should support training “consistent with the ways science is evolving across all scientific fields;” and (4) NSF should work to better communicate the results and value of the SBE research it supports and to encourage the broader scientific community to increase its own efforts to better communicate the value of SBE research.

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

House Subcommittee Discusses FY 2018 NSF Budget

On June 7, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) held a hearing on the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF), featuring NSF Director France Córdova. Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) opened the hearing by recognizing the important role NSF plays as the sole federal funder of basic research across all fields of science. Culberson also added that the subcommittee is going to work in a bi-partisan fashion to ensure that NSF is “appropriately funded” despite the tough budgetary environment and the appropriations process getting off to a slow start. As COSSA previously reported, the President’s budget request includes $6.7 billion for NSF, which would be a $819 million or 11.2 percent cut.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the Subcommittee expressed concerns about the impact the proposed cuts would have on different scientific disciplines and NSF-funded facilities like the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Ranking Member José Serrano (D-NY) recognized the significance of the proposed cut to the NSF, as it represents the first time a President has proposed decreasing funding for the agency in its 50-year history. Unlike appropriations deliberations in recently years, there was no discussion of funding the NSF directorates at specific levels or targeting individual fields for cuts.

Director Córdova emphasized the importance of the social and behavioral sciences in an exchange with Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA), who inquired about the impact of the requested budget cut on research in cybersecurity. Dr. Córdova explained that the cuts would have an impact on cybersecurity research including the import interdisciplinary work being done between the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate and the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate.

While the Subcommittee members seemed in agreement that they did not want to see cuts to federally-funded basic research, the next steps for the NSF budget are unclear. Chairman Culberson mentioned that the subcommittee has yet to receive its budget allocation, which will delay an already-shortened appropriations timeline for FY 2018.

An archived webcast of the hearing and Dr. Córdova’s written testimony are available here.

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

Letters Urge Congressional Leaders to Support Research Agencies

COSSA joined dozens of scientific societies and research universities on a letter to Congressional leaders, sent on May 24, urging them to reject the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to science agencies including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, and more.

Similarly, in a Dear Colleague letter sent to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, 29 Senators expressed their support for the National Science Foundation. The letter calls for the National Science Foundation to receive at least $8 billion in fiscal year 2018 to help ensure the U.S. will remain a world economic leader.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 30), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Overhead Costs of Research

The Subcommittee on Research and Technology and the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology co-hosted a hearing on the overhead costs of research on May 24. The focus of the hearing was the indirect costs incurred from research, reimbursed by the government as part of research grant awards. The subcommittees primarily discussed the indirect costs from awards made by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Witnesses included Dale Bell from the Division of Institution and Award Support at NSF; John Newmann of the Government Accountability Office; James Luther, Vice President for Finance and Compliance at Duke University; and Richard Vedder, Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

Committee members expressed concern about the rising proportion of federal funds going to reimburse indirect costs, which include administrative and facilities costs. Members also expressed concern that the process for negotiating indirect cost rates is becoming more complicated, benefitting larger and wealthier research institutions.

No consensus on how to address the rising proportion of indirect costs emerged. While some members suggested that indirect costs should be taken into consideration when NSF decides to award a grant, others focused on how NSF can continue to fund quality research despite the rising indirect costs.

This hearing represented a continuation of discussions from the 114th Congress about the administrative burden on federally funded researchers, which Research and Development Subcommittee leadership expressed interest in continuing. Witness testimony and an archived webcast of the hearing is available on the Science Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 30), 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)

NSB Releases Policy Brief on Career Path of Science, Engineering, and Health PhDs

The National Science Board, which is the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), released a new policy brief featuring an interactive infographic tool allowing policymakers, educators, students, and others to assess career opportunities for those with doctoral degrees in science, engineering, and health fields. The interactive webpage also allows users to see the number of people with doctorates employed in business, government, and academic jobs and how career paths change over time. The tool can be found here.

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

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