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USDA Names New ERS Administrator

Dr. Spiro Stefanou has been appointed to lead the Economic Research Service (ERS), one of the two principal statistics agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Stefanou is an agricultural economist who previously served as a professor of economics at the University of Florida and at Penn State University. Stefanou will be taking the helm of an agency that has had a rocky several years, after the Administration’s controversial decision to move the agency to Kansas City led to significant attrition and loss of expertise at the agency.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 15), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Sethuraman Panchanathan Confirmed as Next NSF Director

On June 18, the Senate confirmed Sethuraman Panchanathan to be the 15th Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), an agency that had been without a Senate-confirmed director since France Córdova’s term expired in March. Panchanathan, who was nominated to lead the agency in January, holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering and serves as the Executive Vice President of Knowledge Enterprise Development and as Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Arizona State University. He has also served on the National Science Board since 2014.

The timeline for the Senate to consider Panchanathan’s nomination was delayed significantly by the transition away from in-person hearings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the interim, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Kelvin Droegemeier served as Acting Director of NSF until Panchanathan was confirmed (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). More information on Panchanathan’s confirmation is available on the Senate website.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 23), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

White House Launches Search for Chief Statistician

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has posted a vacancy announcement for the position of Chief Statistician of the United States, following the departure of former Chief Statistician Nancy Potok at the end of 2019. The Chief Statistician oversees OMB’s Statistical Policy and Science Branch and is responsible for implementing cross-agency data and statistics policies, including the Federal Data Strategy and the implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. The window for applications closes on June 29.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 9), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Lawmakers Break for Memorial Day Recess with Packed June Agenda in the Wings

When the Senate returns next week, lawmakers will look to move the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defenses Authorization Act (NDAA), which, like annual appropriations bills, is seen as “must pass” legislation as its sets annual spending levels for the Department of Defense. The NDAA is an especially important piece of legislation to watch this year given that, as one of few annual “must pass” bills, it is viewed as a potential vehicle for other, sometimes unrelated policy proposals (see the article on the Endless Frontiers Act).

Work also continues on the FY 2021 appropriations bills. Despite the pandemic, lawmakers are hoping to introduce and possibly pass some of the bills out of Committee in June. However, with the next COVID-19 emergency package still in the mix, final enactment of FY 2021 appropriations bills appears a ways off. Still, COSSA and other advocates continue to press on Congress to provide the highest possible funding levels for federal science agencies (see related article on FY 2021 testimony). You can follow COSSA’s coverage off FY 2021 funding here.

Also expected in the coming weeks is Senate consideration of Sethuraman Panchanathan to be the next Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Panchanathan, who was nominated by President Trump in December 2019, will be among several nominations before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on June 3.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier Named Acting NSF Director

Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), has been named the acting director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) until the Senate confirms a permanent successor to the previous NSF Director, France Córdova. Córdova finished her six-year term heading the agency in March 2020 (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). The White House announced the nomination of Sethuraman Panchanathan as NSF Director in January 2020, however the timeline for the Senate to consider Panchanathan’s nomination has been made unclear by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to his tenure as OSTP Director, Droegemeier served two terms on the National Science Board, the governing body for NSF, and nearly a decade as vice president for research for the University of Oklahoma. The news release can be found on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 14), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

France Córdova Ends Tenure as NSF Director; Timeline for Confirming New Director Unclear

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova finished her six-year term as the head of the agency on March 31, 2020. Córdova, an astrophysicist and former Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of California at Santa Barbara, served as NSF Director since 2014. A farewell message from Córdova to NSF staff is available on the NSF website.

In January 2020, the White House announced the nomination of Sethuraman Panchanathan to succeed Córdova as NSF Director (see COSSA’s previous coverage). However, no hearing has yet been scheduled for Panchanathan’s consideration for the Senate-confirmed position due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these complications in the schedule, the timeline for the Senate to consider Panchanathan for NSF Director remains unclear. COSSA will provide more details as they become available.

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Posted in Issue 7 (March 31), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NCHS Taps BEA Director Brian Moyer to Lead Agency

On March 9, the CDC’s Deputy Director for Public Health Science and Surveillance announced the selection of Brian Moyer as the next Director of the National Center for Health Statistics, effective March 30. Moyer is currently the Director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis within the Commerce Department. Jennifer Madans has been NCHS’s acting director since the retirement of former director Charlie Rothwell at the end of 2018. It is expected that BEA’s Deputy Director Mary Bohman will take over as acting director of BEA following Moyer’s departure.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 17), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIMHD Names Psychologist Monica Webb Hooper Deputy Director

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced the selection of Dr. Monica Webb Hooper as its new Deputy Director. Dr. Webb Hooper comes from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, where she is a professor of oncology, family medicine, and psychological sciences. She has also served as Associate Director for Cancer Disparities Research and Director of the Office of Cancer Disparities Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. She comes to NIMHD with years of expertise in minority health and cancer-related health disparities spanning multiple disadvantaged populations. Dr. Webb Hooper will begin her appointment as Deputy Director on March 15, 2020. More information is available on the NIMHD website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

COSSA Sends Letter in Support of Panchanathan Nomination to Lead NSF

On January 21, COSSA submitted a letter to leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in support of the nomination of Sethuraman Panchanathan to be the next Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) (see previous coverage). The letter notes that “Dr. Panchanathan has a strong and clear vision on the role of research and innovation in ensuring our nation’s leadership in the global economy, and we are pleased to lend our collective voices in support of his nomination.”

Panchanathan was nominated in December for a six-year term following the upcoming retirement of current NSF Director France Cordova in March.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 21), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Sethuraman Panchanathan Nominated to Lead National Science Foundation

The White House announced on December 19 that President Trump intends to nominate Sethuraman Panchanathan to a six-year term as Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Current NSF Director France Córdova’s term ends in March. Panchanathan has been a member of the National Science Board since 2014 and leads “knowledge enterprise development” at Arizona State University (ASU). Panchanathan holds his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering and was central in founding the School of Computing and Informatics and the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing at ASU. Following Córdova’s retirement in March, Panchanathan’s nomination will require approval by the Senate.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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