Blog Archives

Federal Research Agencies Release Guidance on OMB’s Administrative Flexibility Changes

In response to a June 18 memo (M 20-26) issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) extending certain administrative flexibilities to federal grant recipients as relief for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, federal research agencies have released guidance statements clarifying the memo’s implications for recipients of research grants. On June 25, both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) released nearly identical sets of guidance in response to the OMB memo explaining how the changes to the flexibilities will specifically affect recipients of their grants. The flexibilities include an allowance to continue charging salaries, benefits, and other applicable program costs to active NIH and NSF awards through September 30, 2020 (assuming that payroll costs have not already been paid through other COVID-19 relief programs), and an extension of the single audit submission deadline by up to three months.

More information is available on the NIH website and the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

July’s Headlines Webinar to Feature Deep Dive Discussion on NSF/NASEM Network to Answer COVID Policy Questions

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on Thursday, July 9 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The COSSA team will break down the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month, followed by a deep dive discussion with Dr. Monica Feit, Deputy Executive Director of the Academies’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) on the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN), an initiative of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to deploy the social sciences to answer urgent COVID-19 policy questions. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

RISE Act Would Provide Relief Funding for Federally Funded Scientists

On June 24, Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (H.R. 7308), which would authorize $26 billion in relief funding for federal science agencies to support researchers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds could be used to enable graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and Principal Investigators to complete work that was disrupted by COVID-19, or extend the training or employment of researchers on an existing research project for up to two years because of the disruption of the job market. The bill follows a similar Dear Colleague Letter led by DeGette and Upton in April with 180 Members of Congress signing on. A timeline for consideration and potential passage of the bill remains unclear. While it would be a likely candidate for inclusion in a larger COVID-19 aid package, the House is still waiting for the Senate to introduce a counterpart to its previously passed COVID-19 relief bill before it considers a new one.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIMHD Seeking Research Applications Addressing COVID-19 Consequences on Vulnerable Populations

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new funding opportunity for community interventions to address the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic among health disparity and vulnerable populations. The announcement specifically encourages applicants to address adverse psychosocial, behavioral, and socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic on the health of these populations. Applications open on July 28 and will be accepted through August 28. More information is available on the NIMHD website.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

SEAN Releases Rapid Consultation on Evaluating Types of COVID-19 Data

The Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN), a collaboration between the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Science Foundation (NSF) (see previous coverage), has released its first rapid expert consultation in response to COVID-19. The report, Evaluating Data Types: A Guide for Decision Makers using Data to Understand the Extent and Spread of COVID-19, is intended to assist leaders in understanding the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. It was released alongside an interactive tool to help policymakers explore the information in more detail. The consultation summarizes the benefits and drawbacks of seven specific COVID-19 measurements that decision-makers can consider as they use these measurements to respond to the outbreak: (1) confirmed cases, (2) hospitalizations, (3) emergency department visits, (4) reported confirmed COVID-19 deaths, (5) excess deaths, (6) fraction of viral tests that are positive, and (7) representative prevalence surveys. It also outlines five criteria decisionmakers can use in evaluating such data: representativeness, potential for systematic under- or over-estimation, uncertainty, time range, and geographical area. More about SEAN is available here.

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

Recordings of COVID-19-Related COSSA Headlines Webinars Now Available

In recognition of the severity of the current coronavirus crisis, COSSA has elected to make recordings of its members-only Headlines webinars related to the pandemic available immediately, rather than waiting an additional month to release the recordings to non-members. Check out the Headlines page on the COSSA website for links to previous recordings, including our most recent deep dive discussion with University of Florida epidemiologist Natalie Dean, who called for social scientists to weigh in on critical questions such as how best to facilitate contact tracing and providing insight into factors that could affect the public’s reaction to a potential vaccine. Other Headlines discussions related to COVID-19 focused on communication strategies in an emerging public health crisis and the role of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in coordinating science agencies’ response. COSSA members can sign up for members-only emails to receive information on how to join these webinars live.

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

Census Releases First COVID-19 Household Data

The Census Bureau has released the first data from its new COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey, which asks over 50,000 Americans about their employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption during the coronavirus pandemic (see previous coverage). The data, which covers April 23-May 5, was released as tables and through an interactive dashboard. More information about the survey is available on the Census Bureau website. Data will continue to be released on a weekly basis throughout the survey’s 90-day duration. In addition, the Census Bureau has released data on the pandemic’s impact on small businesses collected by its Small Business Pulse Survey.

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

National Academies Holds Webinar on COVID-19 and Extreme Environmental Events

The National Academies Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Environmental Change and Society and Resilient America Roundtable convened a webinar on May 13 to discuss the social science aspects of potential emergencies that compound the current COVID-19 crisis with environmental hazards, such as fires, hurricanes, flooding, and heatwaves. The event featured experts from federal government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as universities, and nonprofit and community organizations. Panelists discussed the challenges of responding to emergencies and natural disasters amidst a pandemic and the need for social science to shed more light on how individuals and communities are likely to respond to such situations. A recording of the event is available on the NASEM website.

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

John Haaga Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? post comes from Dr. John Haaga, who retired as Director of the National Institute on Aging’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research in 2019. He writes about the light COVID-19 has shed on the work the U.S. needs to do in order for Americans’ health outcomes to catch up to those in peer countries. Read it here and subscribe.

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

COSSA Advocates Tell Congress to Use Social Science to Fight COVID-19

On April 28, about 40 social and behavioral scientists and stakeholders participated in COSSA’s sixth annual Social Science Advocacy Day, meeting virtually with Members of Congress and their staff about the many ways social and behavioral science is helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocates representing 16 states participated, holding 58 individual meeting with Congressional offices. Materials used to help explain the unique contributions the social and behavioral sciences make to fighting COVID-19 and to address other pressing national issues are available on COSSA’s Advocacy Resources page. You can help amplify this message by responding to COSSA’s Action Alert on social science and the COVID-19 crisis.

COSSA is particularly grateful to the event’s sponsors, who chose to continue to support Advocacy Day without an in-person component. Sincere thanks to the American Anthropological Association, American Educational Research Association, American Evaluation Association, American Psychological Association, American Society of Criminology, American Sociological Association, Association of American Universities, Boston University, Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences, National Communication Association, Penn state Social Science Research Institute, Population Association of America, Princeton University, SAGE Publishing, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and Society for Research and Child Development.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 12), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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