Release of President’s Budget Puts Pressure on Congress to Raise Caps; COSSA Urges Advocates to Take Action

The release of the President’s budget request signals the official kick-off of the annual appropriations process in Congress. However, before Congress can fully dive into the FY 2020 bills, lawmakers must address a larger threat facing federal funding for next year. As COSSA has been reporting, discretionary spending that is appropriated every year by Congress has been subject to austere caps that were put in place in 2011 as part of a larger effort to significantly reduce the size of the federal budget over 10 years. The Budget Control Act of 2011, or BCA, put in place caps on discretionary spending for both nondefense and defense spending for the period of 2013 through 2021.

Thankfully, since 2013, Congress has been able to find bipartisan ways to amend the BCA and provide relief to the caps, allowing federal R&D agencies (as well as other parts of the federal budget) to achieve funding increases above the caps each year. However, the latest relief measures only raised the caps for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, meaning that unless Congress acts to address the caps again for FY 2020, they will take effect once again, resulting in a cut of $54 billion (9 percent) from nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending (which includes most research accounts), and $71 billion (11 percent) from defense discretionary accounts. In future years, under the President’s proposal, NDD funding would be reduced by an additional 2 percent each year through 2029, while shifting funding to “resource national defense requirements.” Interestingly, the President’s request itself violates the BCA by proposing to bust the defense discretionary caps by $165 billion (using the controversial Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to further pad defense budgets). Therefore, regardless of where you stand, a deal will need to be struck in some form in the coming months if either side—defense or nondefense—are to see desired increases.

Lawmakers have already started talks and will be working for the next several months to attempt to strike a deal to prevent these cuts from taking effect in FY 2020. Of course, given the hyper-partisan and contentious nature of today’s Washington, a bipartisan deal is not guaranteed. You can expect to see the funding debate heat up in the coming weeks and perhaps also stretch into the fall or beyond.

COSSA has issued an action alert urging members to write to their Members of Congress to tell them to prioritize a budget deal that gives fair treatment to vital non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs—including science and research agencies—which have disproportionately borne the brunt of federal spending cuts over the past several years.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Congressional Appropriators Get to Work; NSF Director Testifies

Following the release of the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request, Congressional leaders have gotten to work on spending bills for the coming fiscal year. As COSSA has previously reported, Congress must first address the limits to discretionary spending (“raise the caps”) before they can complete the FY 2020 appropriations process. Congress has until the end of September to finalize all government spending. COSSA has signed onto a letter as part of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) to encourage Congress to raise the caps on discretionary spending.

While Congress has yet to reach a broader budget deal to address the caps on discretionary spending, Appropriations Subcommittees have started reviewing federal agencies’ budget requests as the first step in the appropriations process.

Last week, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS) received testimony from France Córdova, the Director of the National Science Foundation, on the agency’s FY 2020 budget request. In her prepared statement, Director Córdova emphasized NSF’s Ten Big Ideas and the many contributions that NSF-funded research has made to the everyday lives of Americans – from iPhone and search engine technology to Doppler radar and American Sign Language adoption.  Members of the subcommittee expressed concern about the proposed twelve percent decrease for the agency in FY 2020, and how the agency was going to balance the rest of their research portfolio while investing in the Ten Big Ideas. Members of the subcommittee also highlighted the importance of social science in relation to the priorities of the NSF, including artificial intelligence, and their own priorities, including program evaluation, STEM education, and economic opportunity. Other topics of discussion included NSF investment in scientific infrastructure and broadening participation in STEM. An archive of the hearing can be viewed on the House Appropriations Committee website.

Leaders from the National Institutes of Health and the Census Bureau are scheduled to testify this week. For more information on Appropriations hearings and bills follow the COSSA Washington Update.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

IES Requests Comment on Proposed Priorities

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the Department of Education, has released a request for comment on proposed priorities for IES. The Federal Register Notice explains that the request is part of the process required by the agency’s authorizing legislation to receive public comment on priorities the Director of IES recommends to the National Board for Education Sciences.

Proposed priorities fall into two categories: A Focus on Outcomes and Increasing Dissemination and Use. The Outcomes priority includes specific outcomes at the preschool, K-12, and postsecondary levels of education. The Dissemination and Use priority includes a renewed focus on enhancing the experience of What Works Clearinghouse users, increasing outreach to teachers, and investing in postsecondary programs that support education researchers.

Comments will close on May 28, 2019. More information can be found in the Federal Register.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NSF Releases Dear Colleague on Research on Sexual Harassment in STEM

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter on March 29 highlighting NSF’s continued support for competitive research that advances fundamental knowledge about the nature and underlying dynamics of sexual and other forms of harassment and the evaluation of harassment prevention in research, STEM, and workplace settings. The letter outlines that NSF has designated liaisons for harassment research in their research directorates and offices to help potential grantees determine whether a research idea is within the scope of the Dear Colleague Letter and appropriate for existing programs at NSF. The letter also includes several potential research foci in the social and behavioral sciences including understanding the underlying social and behavioral process, mechanisms for assessing and evaluating harassment prevalence and prevention, and the nature and dynamics of harassment.

More information can be found on the NSF website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Washington Update, Volume 38 Issue 6

Featured News

COSSA in Action

Federal Agency & Administration News

Community News & Reports

COSSA Member Spotlight

Events Calendar

Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Details of President’s FY 2020 Budget Request Emerge

This week, the Trump Administration began releasing details of its fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request. Like previous years, the budget proposes steep cuts that would damage America’s research and data enterprise. Full details of the budget are still in the process of being released this week. COSSA will be sharing its in-depth analysis of the proposal in the coming days. Below is a snapshot of some of the funding levels we know so far:

PBR Fy 2020

It is important to remember that the Presidents’ request is simply a proposal and is unlikely to become law. Congress has sole authority over appropriating funds. COSSA has signed on to a letter to Congressional leaders as part of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) encouraging Congress reach a bipartisan agreement to raise the budget caps for non-defense discretionary spending and recommending an increased appropriation of $9 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 2020.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Urges Action on Non-Defense Discretionary Spending

Before Congress can fully dive in to the FY 2020 appropriations process (see related article), it must address a larger threat facing funding for next year. As COSSA has reported, the Budget Control Act of 2011 put in place caps on discretionary spending for every year between 2013 and 2021, which limit how much Congress can spend every year with an aim of reducing the federal deficit. Thankfully, Congress took action since 2013 to amend the law and raise the caps, which has allowed funding for federal research agencies to increase above the painful caps. Unfortunately, the relief enacted by Congress expires in FY 2020, meaning if Congress does not act this year to provide relief (to “raise the caps”), these draconian spending limits will be back in force and translate to devastating cuts to programs important to our community.

In response, COSSA has issued an action alert urging members to write to their Members of Congress to tell them to prioritize a budget deal that gives fair treatment to vital non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs—including science and research agencies—which have disproportionately borne the brunt of federal spending cuts over the past several years.

The action alert can be found on COSSA’s website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Asks OMB to Remove Census Citizenship Question

In response to a Federal Register request, COSSA submitted a comment to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting that, should a Census citizenship question be reinstated by the Supreme Court, as has been proposed by the Trump Administration, OMB remove it from the 2020 Census on the grounds that it violates the Paperwork Reduction Act. COSSA argues that including the question “is of minimal practical utility or public benefit, will increase the burden on respondents, and will harm the integrity and accuracy of information collected for statistical purposes.” The full comment is available on the COSSA website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Science Foundation Invites Participation in Convergence Accelerator Pilot

In a Dear Colleague letter released on March 18, the National Science Foundation (NSF) invited interested parties to participate in the NSF Convergence Accelerator Pilot. The NSF Convergence Accelerators Pilot seeks to accelerate use-inspired convergence research in areas of national importance by facilitating convergent team-building capacity around exploratory, potentially high-risk proposals. The Pilot seeks proposals to support fundamental research while encouraging rapid advances through partnerships that include, or will include, multiple stakeholders in three research tracks aligned with two of the NSF Ten Big Ideas. The three research tracks are: Open Knowledge Network (as part of the Harnessing the Data Revolution Big Idea), AI and the Future of Jobs (as part of the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier Big Idea), and National Talent Ecosystem (as part of the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier Big Idea).

The submission of a Research Concept Outline is due April 15, with full proposals due by June 3.  NSF will host two webinars, on March 27 and April 3, to answer questions about the submission process and the Convergence Accelerator program more broadly. More information about the Convergence Accelerator program is available on the NSF website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

William Beach Confirmed as BLS Commissioner

On March 13, William Beach was confirmed as the next Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics after a protracted wait. Beach was originally nominated by the Trump Administration in October 2017 (see COSSA’s previous coverage). He is an economist who spent much of his career at conservative think tanks and was most recently Vice President at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.  He also spent several years as Chief Economist for the Senate Budget Committee Republican Staff and has been involved in the evidence-based policy-making activities of the last several years. The Friends of BLS, of which COSSA is a member, endorsed his nomination. He succeeds William Wiatrowski, who has been Acting Commissioner since January 2017 when Erica Groshen’s term expired. Beach will be tasked with leading the Bureau as it faces the relocation of its headquarters and a potential move from the Department of Labor to the Department of Commerce.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Subscribe

Click here to subscribe to the COSSA Washington Update, our biweekly newsletter.

Archive

Looking for something from a previous issue of the COSSA Washington Update? Try our archive.

Issues

Browse by Month