Blog Archives

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Improving Science and Technology Advice for Congress

On December 5, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST) held a hearing to discuss options in improving the advice-giving infrastructure available to Members of Congress on science and technology issues. Members discussed recommendations from a recent National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report on Science and Technology Policy Assessment as well as the possibility of reinstating the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which was dismantled in 1995. Witnesses present at the hearing included Director of Civil-Military Programs at the Stennis Center for Public Service Michael McCord, Director of the Technology and Public Purpose Project in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Laura Manley, Chief Scientist and Managing Director of Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics in the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Dr. Tim Persons, and Executive Director of the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Dr. Peter Blair.

Committee Members questioned the witnesses on the findings of the NAPA report, the merits of reinstating OTA, technology assessment activities occurring at GAO, and other issues. While Members of both parties expressed interest in strengthening the quality of knowledge and tools available to Congress, the two parties disagreed on the method. Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and other Democrats supported a multi-lateral approach including reinstating and refunding OTA while Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and other Republicans favored a consolidation of technology assessment into GAO along with other recommendations listed in the NAPA report.

The House Legislative Branch Appropriations report for FY 2020 includes $6 million for the re-establishment of OTA. However, the Senate version does not include this funding which makes the reinstatement of OTA unlikely to become law. A recording of the hearing and a statement from Chairwoman Johnson can be found on the SST website and the full NAPA report can be found on the NAPA website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 24 (December 10), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

New Advisory Committee on Evidence Building Seeking Nominations

The Department of Commerce is accepting nominations for a new Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building, established by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (see COSSA’s coverage) and in accordance with the Federal Data Strategy.  The Committee is authorized for two years and is tasked with assisting the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in carrying out its statutorily-mandated responsibilities related to evidence-building, “evaluating and providing recommendations to the OMB Director on how to facilitate data sharing, enable data linkage, and develop privacy enhancing techniques;” and “reviewing the coordination of data sharing or availability for evidence building across all agencies.”  The Committee will be chaired by the Chief Statistician of the United States, who will appoint members of the Committee from federal agencies. In addition, at least 10 members will be appointed from the non-federal stakeholder community, who will have expertise in transparency policy, privacy policy, statistical data use, information management, and information technology, as well as at least one member from the research and evaluation community. Nominations must be submitted by December 4, 2019. More details on the Committee and how to nominate members is available in the Federal Register notice.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 22 (November 12), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

OMB Releases First Set of Evidence Act Guidance

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued the first set of guidance related to implementing the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (or Evidence Act), legislation that builds on the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking to formalize the use of data and evidence in informing the everyday work of federal agencies. The guidance provides detailed information for federal agencies on developing Learning Agendas, which identify the agency’s priority questions to be informed by evidence; sets out the requirements and responsibilities for the senior roles mandated by the legislation—Chief Data Officer, Evaluation Officer, and Statistical Official; and provides direction on creating evaluation plans, undertaking capacity assessments, and identifying data needs. The full guidance is available online. OMB will release additional Evidence Act guidance covering open data access and management, data access for statistical purposes, and program evaluation in the coming months.

Back to this issue’s table of contents. 

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 15 (July 23), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Comments Sought on Federal Data Strategy Action Plan

The White House is seeking public comment on its Draft 2019-2020 Federal Data Strategy Action Plan. The Federal Data Strategy, which is being coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a “ten-year vision for how the Federal government will accelerate the use of data to support the foundations of democracy, deliver on mission, serve the public, and steward resources while protecting security, privacy and confidentiality.” The Strategy consists of 10 principles, and 40 best practices to guide federal agencies on how to leverage the value of their data. The next phase in the Strategy’s implementation is the development of a first-year Action Plan, which details concrete steps to align existing efforts and establish a firm basis of tools, processes, and capacities to leverage data as a strategic asset. The action plan also incorporates several mandated actions from the recently-passed Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.

The proposed actions are:

Shared Actions: Government-wide Data Services

  • Action 1: Create an OMB Data Council
  • Action 2: Develop a Curated Data Science Training and Credentialing Catalog
  • Action 3: Develop a Data Ethics Framework
  • Action 4: Develop a Data Protection Toolkit
  • Action 5: Develop a Repository of Federal Data Strategy Resources and Tools
  • Action 6: Pilot a One-stop Standard Research Application
  • Action 7: Pilot an Automated Inventory Tool for Data.gov
  • Action 8: Pilot Standard Data Catalogs for Data.gov

Community Actions: Cross-Agency Collaboration

  • Action 9: Improve Data Resources for AI Research and Development
  • Action 10: Improve Financial Management Data Standards
  • Action 11: Improve Geospatial Data Standards

Agency-Specific Actions: Agency Activities

  • Action 12: Constitute a Diverse Data Governance Body
  • Action 13: Assess Data and Related Infrastructure Maturity
  • Action 14: Identify Opportunities to Increase Staff Data Skills
  • Action 15: Identify Data Needs to Answer Key Agency Questions
  • Action 16: Identify Priority Datasets for Agency Open Data Plans

Comments are sought on whether the proposed actions accurately describe the needed activities, if any actions should be added or removed, and on what resources would be needed to implement the actions. Comments should be submitted by July 5, 2019. Full details are available on the Federal Data Strategy Website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 12 (June 11), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA to Honor Leaders in Evidence-Based Policymaking with 2019 Awards

COSSA will recognize two sets of champions of the evidence-based policymaking movement with its 2019 awards (read the full press release). COSSA’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award will be presented to Katharine Abraham and Ron Haskins, whose leadership of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking helped catalyze efforts across federal agencies to integrate science- and evidence-based decision-making into the everyday work of government. COSSA will also present its first-ever Public Impact Award to The Lab @ DC, a team of social scientists working within the District of Columbia government to use scientific methods and insights to test and improve District policies and programs. Members of the COSSA community are invited to attend the presentation of the awards at COSSA’s annual Celebration of Social Science Reception on April 30, 2019, which is part of COSSA’s 2019 Social Science Advocacy Day festivities. RSVP for the reception here.

The COSSA Distinguished Service Award recognizes leaders who have gone above and beyond to promote, protect, and advance the social and behavioral science research enterprise. The newly established COSSA Public Impact Award seeks to celebrate ways individuals or organizations are using social and behavioral science research to achieve notable improvements in communities. Awardees are chosen by the COSSA Board of Directors, which represents COSSA’s governing member associations. More information about the awards is available on COSSA’s website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 8 (April 16), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NIH Seeks Input on the Need for an Administrative Data Enclave

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the potential development of a secure data enclave within the NIH using existing funds. This enclave would allow approved research organizations to access sensitive non-public NIH information such as information on peer review outcomes, grant progress reports, and demographic information of NIH grant applicants. NIH approval would be required for researchers to access the data. The NIH is seeking information about this proposed data enclave including examples of research that is currently not pursuable without such access, whether the benefits of a data enclave are worth the opportunity cost of the necessary NIH funds, preferences about accessing a data enclave virtually or in a designated physical location, quantity of “seats” of researchers given access to the data enclave, examples of high level data protection procedures, and examples of potential research outputs from a data enclave. NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research Mike Lauer published a blog post discussing the RFI in greater detail. Responses can be submitted here by May 30, 2019.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 5 (March 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

The Research-to-Policy Collaboration Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Taylor Scott and Max Crowley of the Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC), who write about how the RPC is connecting social scientists and government officials to enhance the use of research in policymaking. Read it here and subscribe.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 3 (February 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

February’s Headlines Webchat to Feature a Deep Dive on Evidence-Based Policymaking

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on February 14 at 2:00 pm Eastern, in which COSSA staff will recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The February chat will feature a deep dive discussion on the recently-passed Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 with special guest Nick Hart, Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Evidence Project. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 3 (February 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act Becomes Law

On January 14, President Trump signed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 into law. Championed by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the legislation represents a bipartisan recognition of the importance of science and data in helping to design and improve policies (see COSSA’s previous coverage for more details on the legislation). After the bill was signed, COSSA released a statement applauding the legislation. We will continue to report on details of the bill’s implementation as they become available.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Evidence-Based Policymaking Bill Awaiting President’s Signature

After languishing in the Senate for over a year, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (H.R. 4174) was passed by both chambers in the last days of 2018 and is currently awaiting the President’s signature. The President has until January 14 to sign the bill into law. The legislation, which is intended to be a “down-payment” enacting some of the less complicated (and less controversial) recommendations of the report from the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (see COSSA’s coverage and statement), contains some minor changes from the version passed by the House in November 2017 but generally conforms to the recommendations of the Commission. It contains four titles: (I) enhancing federal evidence-building activities; (II) enacting the OPEN Government Data Act introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI); (III) reauthorizing and enhancing the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA); and (IV) general provisions to ensure that the directions in the bill comport with existing laws and requirements. The Bipartisan Policy Center has published a summary of the Act and a crosswalk between its provisions and the recommendations of the Commission.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 1 (January 8), 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