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Democrats Take Control of the House in Midterm Elections; Congress Returns for Lame Duck Session

Congress returns to Washington this week for the first time since early October. Lawmakers are returning to what many expected to be the outcome of the midterm elections, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives and Republicans maintaining control of the Senate.

The Senate margin currently stands at 51 Republicans and 46 Democrats, with a run-off election scheduled in Mississippi, a recount of votes in Florida, and a race in Arizona still too close to call. The contests in Florida and Arizona are considered toss-ups while the Mississippi race is expected to stay in Republican hands. As many expected, the Democrats will have a strong majority in the House of Representatives come January with a current majority of 227 members to the Republican’s 198, with nearly a dozen races still too close to call. At this time, the House Democrats have gained 32 seats and the House Republicans have lost the same amount. Notable losses include several Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee, including Representative John Culberson (R-TX), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science; Kevin Yoder (R-KS); David Young (R-IA); and Scott Taylor (R-VA). Several Republican members of the House Science Committee also lost their reelection bids, including Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Steve Knight (R-CA). Taken with the retirement of Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), this will result in an overhaul of the Republican roster on the Science Committee in the coming Congress. It will be some time before committee assignments for the 116th Congress will be made.

At the top of the agenda for the next few weeks is finalizing the remaining fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bills. About half of the spending bills have been signed into law, but funding for the National Science Foundation, Census Bureau, Department of Agriculture, and many other agencies is still not complete. The current continuing resolution ends on December 7 with Republicans anxious to complete the spending bills before Democrats take control of the House. Read about the state of play for FY 2019 appropriations here.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

President Appoints Five New Members of the National Science Board, Reappoints Two Members

On November 5, President Trump announced his intent to make five appointments to the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The selections include reappointments of former NSB chair Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Geraldine Richmond of the University of Oregon. Two of the new appointees, Alan Stern and Stephen Willard, have backgrounds in the private sector. Dr. Stern is considered to be a champion of commercial space activities and has worked for Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Mr. Willard is currently the CEO of a biotechnology firm after earlier careers in law and investment banking. The three other appointees will join the NSB from universities. Steven Leath is currently the President of Auburn University, after a career in agricultural research; Suresh Garimella is a professor of mechanical engineering and former vice president for research at Perdue University; and Maureen Condic is on faculty at the University of Utah and has focused her work on human neurological development, including testifying before congress on the ability of fetuses to experience pain during early stages of development and opposing research on embryonic stem cells.

Board members are nominated by the President to serve six-year terms, with the opportunity for renewal. In addition to Drs. Zuber and Richmond, the terms of six members of the NSB expired in May, meaning that education researcher Deborah Ball, internet founder Vinton Cerf, and four other NSB members were not selected for renewal. The NSB will hold its first meeting with the new appointees on November 28 and 29.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Comments Sought on Federal Data Strategy Best Practices

As recommended in the President’s Management Agenda released back in March, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been leading the development of a government-wide Federal Data Strategy to better manage the government’s data resources and improve the accessibility and usability of federal date for decision-making. The developers have finalized ten principles to guide the strategy across the themes of Ethical Governance, Conscious Design, and Learning Culture and are seeking comments on 47 aspirational best practices that are intended to “inform agency actions on a regular basis, to be continually relevant, and to be sufficiently general so as to broadly apply at all federal agencies and across all missions.” The practices are grouped according to five broad objectives: Govern and Manage Data as a Strategic Asset, Protect and Secure Data, Promote Efficient Use of Data Assets, Build a Culture that Values Data as an Asset, and Honor Stakeholder Input and Leverage Partners. Comments on the draft practices are due by November 16, 2018. Instructions for submitting feedback and the complete list of practices are available on the Data Strategy website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

White House Science Council Seeks Feedback on Opioid R&D Roadmap

The White House National Science and Technology Council is accepting comments on a report, Health Research and Development to Stem the Opioid Crisis: A National Roadmap. The report was produced by the Opioid Fast Track Action Committee (FTAC), co-chaired by Fay Lomax Cook, former Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Wilson M. Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The report is intended to support the federal response to the opioid crisis by identifying areas for research and development (R&D) to address knowledge gaps related to opioid use, abuse, and treatment as well as opportunities for improving coordination of related federal R&D efforts.  The report describes seven overarching areas of R&D, including several with direct relevance to the social and behavioral sciences: Biology and Chemistry of Pain and Opioid Addiction, Non-Biological Contributors to Opioid Addiction, Pain Management, Prevention of Opioid Addiction, Treatment of Opioid Addiction and Withdrawal, Overdose Prevention and Recovery, and Community Consequences of Opioid Addiction. Comments are due by December 5, 2018. Instructions for responding are posted on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA Washington Update, Volume 37 Issue 21

Featured News

COSSA in Action

Federal Agency & Administration News

Community News & Reports

COSSA Member Spotlight

Events Calendar

Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Introducing HEADLINES: A Monthly Look at What’s New and Noteworthy in Social Science Policy

headlines bannerCOSSA is excited to announce its newest program, exclusively for membersHeadlines: A monthly look at what’s new and noteworthy in social science policy. Launching in November, Headlines will be a monthly webchat in which members will learn about the latest policy and funding developments impacting social science research. The COSSA team, joined by periodic special guests, will take participants behind the headlines and explain what they need to know. COSSA is excited to offer this interactive space for members to get the policy-related information they need when they need it.

The first edition of Headlines will be two days after the midterm elections for a discussion on the “2018 Midterm Election Results and What’s Next for Social Science Funding and Policy.” During this webchat, COSSA will recap the results of the 2018 midterm elections, including the notable winners and losers, changes in Congressional leadership, and how the results will affect the Congressional committees overseeing social science funding and policy. Presenters will also look ahead and share our outlook for what to expect in the coming months and answer questions. COSSA members can register here to attend November’s monthly webchat.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA Encourages Response to NIH Clinical Trials RFI

As previously reported, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been taking steps in recent years to enhance its stewardship of and increase transparency over the clinical trials it funds. This has included the development of a new, expanded definition of the term “clinical trial,” which now applies to all research involving human subjects that involves a prospective experimental manipulation of an independent variable, and triggers the need for researchers to adhere to a number of new registering and reporting requirements using clinicaltrials.gov (see COSSA’s Hot Topic piece for details). Many basic behavioral and social science studies will be caught up in these new requirements.

NIH released a Request for Information (RFI) (NOT-OD-18-217) in September seeking input on the standards NIH should use in registration and results reporting for prospective basic science studies involving human participants (see COSSA’s previous coverage of the RFI). COSSA has issued an Action Alert to assist stakeholders concerned about this revised “clinical trials” definition in responding to the RFI. The alert includes additional context on the NIH clinical trials policy, a step-by-step guide to responding to the RFI, and sample text respondents can use in submitting their comments. Responses to the RFI are due by November 12, 2018. COSSA encourages individuals concerned about this policy to respond and share the action alert widely.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA Seeks Interns for 2019

COSSA is accepting internship applications for the spring semester beginning in January 2019. The opportunity is best suited for undergraduate students who wish to learn about advocacy/lobbying, policy impacting social science, and/or non-profit organizations. Responsibilities include conducting research to assist COSSA staff with their lobbying activities and coverage of events, such as Congressional hearings, federal agency advisory committee meetings, community and coalition events, which may result in a written product, such as a contribution to the COSSA Washington Update. More information is available in the internship description. Applications will be evaluated as they are received, so apply now!

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Disaster Researchers Brandi Gilbert and Nnenia Campbell Answer “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Brandi Gilbert of the Urban Institute and Nnenia Campbell of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who write about what social science research related to children and older adults has taught us about building community resilience and enhancing recovery after disasters. Read it here and subscribe.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Census Reissues Request for Input on 2020 Data Products

The Census Bureau has reopened a request for comments published over the summer to encourage additional feedback on how data products from prior decennial censuses (including summary and detailed tables, national and state demographic profiles, and topical briefs) have been used. As part of the Bureau’s ongoing efforts to safeguard privacy, some data products released after previous decennial censuses may be eliminated. Stakeholder input is necessary to help the Bureau prioritize which data products are most important to maintain. More information, including specific questions of interest to the Bureau and a spreadsheet containing a complete list of data products and tables, is available in the original Federal Register notice published in July. Note: this request does not have any bearing on the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. Comments must be submitted by November 8, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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