Blog Archives

COSSA Endorses Bipartisan Bill to Extend Census Deadline

COSSA joined over 200 organizations in endorsing a new bipartisan bill that would extend the statutory deadlines for the 2020 Census and require the Census Bureau to continue its enumeration operation through October 31. As previously reported, the Department of Commerce announced plans to end counting activities for the 2020 Census a month ahead of its originally planned schedule, leading to concern that the resulting data will be inaccurate. The 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, introduced by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) would require the 2020 Census to stick to its originally planned schedule and gives the Bureau additional time to deliver apportionment and redistricting data. Follow COSSA’s coverage of the 2020 Census here.

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

White House Directs Federal Agencies to Defund Race-Related Trainings for Federal Employees

On September 4, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum calling for federal agencies to cease funding training sessions for federal employees addressing critical race theory and white privilege. The memo alleges that “executive branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda,” citing unnamed press reports as evidence that “employees across the executive branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism.’” The memo directs federal agencies to “identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

Many organizations in the scientific community have expressed concern about the OMB memo, including the American Sociological Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member. In a September 7 press release, ASA asserted that the OMB memo “represents a fundamental misunderstanding of both critical race theory and the term white privilege and the extensive body of empirical research underlying them,” and shared a list of sociologists who could comment on their research of the issues.

Other organizations, including COSSA and several of its member associations, are also weighing a response to the OMB memo. We will continue to report on this developing story.

The full OMB memo is available on the White House website.

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

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)

National Academies Releases Consensus Study on Assessing Morbidity and Mortality After Disasters

The National Academies has published a new consensus study report: A Framework for Assessing Mortality and Morbidity after Large-Scale Disasters. The Congressionally-mandated study was sponsored by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was intended to identify ways to better understand the scope of death and injury caused by large-scale disasters (both natural and human-caused). Among the report’s recommendations are adopting a uniform framework across federal agencies for data collection and adopting methods that distinguish direct and indirect deaths resulting from disasters. While the study commenced prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 provided a case study illustrating the needs described in the report and is the focus of an appendix. More information about the study is available on the National Academies website.

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

White House Outlines FY 2022 R&D Budget Priorities

On August 14, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum laying out the Trump Administration’s research and development budget (R&D) priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2022. The memo cites five key White House priorities and four “high-priority crosscutting actions” for U.S. federal agencies to consider as they develop their FY 2022 budget submissions.

While the FY 2022 memo shares similar priorities to R&D memos from previous fiscal years, a notable difference is the inclusion of public health security and innovation as a priority in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The five budgetary priorities listed in the memo are:

  1. Public Health Security and Innovation
  2. Leadership in the Industries of the Future and Related Technologies
  3. Security
  4. Energy and Environmental Leadership
  5. Space Leadership

The memo also includes four “high-priority crosscutting actions” for federal agencies to better meet the budgetary priorities listed above. These four actions are:

  1. Build the S&T Workforce of the Future
  2. Optimize Research Environments and Results
  3. Facilitate Multisector Partnerships and Technology Transfer
  4. Leverage the Power of Data

Additional details can be found in the memorandum.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Stakeholders Rally to Salvage 2020 Census

With less than a month remaining before the Census Bureau plans to end all of its counting efforts for the 2020 Census, advocates are actively working to force the Bureau to take more time to ensure an accurate count. As previously reported, the Census Bureau announced in August that it would shorten its counting efforts by a full month, moving up its deadline from October 31 to September 30. According to the Bureau, the shortened timeframe is needed to in order to produce statutorily mandated apportionment counts by the end of the year. The House’s most recent coronavirus relief bill would extend that deadline, but the Senate has yet to act to do so. COSSA joined over 900 Census Project organizations in a letter to Senate leaders urging them to extend the statutory deadlines for reporting apportionment data in its next COVID relief package. In addition, Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) led a bipartisan group of 48 senators calling on Congressional leaders to extend the deadline.

The Census Project has released a toolkit for individuals who want to take action in support of a fair and accurate 2020 Census. They encourage advocates to post to social media using the hashtags #SavetheCensus and #DontRushtheCensus. In addition, stakeholders can write to their members of Congress in support of the Census here.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIMH Requesting Comments on Improving Mental Health Disparities

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is requesting stakeholder comments to inform potential research seeking to improve mental health outcomes among minority and health disparity populations. The request specifically seeks input on how certain social determinants can affect mental health outcomes, how racial discrimination may affect mental health outcomes, potentially understudied social or behavioral determinants of mental health, ideas or innovations to reduce mental health disparities, promising interventions to treat mental health disparities, tools to properly measure mental health outcomes, and ideas on preventing racial discrimination at the individual, family, or community level. Comment submissions will be accepted through October 30, 2020. More information is available on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Applications Open for FY 2020 Title VI International Research and Studies Program

The International and Foreign Language Education Office (IFLE) within the U.S. Department of Education is accepting applications for the International Research and Studies (IRS) program for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The IRS program provides competitive grants to institutions and individuals to conduct research on improving education in foreign language and other international fields. Each year, the IRS program awards up to five additional points to applications that meet one of several competitive preference priorities. The priorities for FY 2020 are:

  1. Research on more effective methods of providing instruction and achieving competency in modern foreign languages, area studies, or other international fields.
  2. Studies and surveys to assess the use of graduates of programs supported under title VI of the HEA by governmental, educational, and private-sector organizations and other studies assessing the outcomes and effectiveness of supported programs.
  3. Developing and publishing specialized materials for use in foreign language, area studies, and other international fields or for training foreign language, area, and other international specialists.

Applications will be accepted through September 8, 2020. More information is available on the Department of Education website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Census Announces Early End to 2020 Operations, Jeopardizing Accuracy of the Count

Census Bureau Director Stephen Dillingham announced that the Census Bureau will cut short its counting operations for the 2020 Census by a full month in order to produce apportionment counts by its legally mandated deadline of December 31, 2020. According to the announcement, the Census Bureau will end field data and self-response collection on September 30, rather than October 31 as previously planned. This change comes months after the Census Bureau itself asked Congress to delay the deadline for producing apportionment counts in order to allow more time to recover from the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the House’s most recent COVID-19 relief package would delay this deadline to give the Bureau more time, the Senate’s does not (see related article).

Although the change appears to be prompted by Congress’s failure to adjust the apportionment deadline, many Census stakeholders see it as part of a broader attempt by the Trump Administration to sabotage efforts to produce a full and accurate count, particularly of minority communities. They point to the protracted battle over the failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the questionnaire as well as President Trump’s recent (likely unconstitutional) order to exclude unauthorized immigrants from apportionment counts. As minority and immigrant communities are among the hardest-to-count populations, a truncated enumeration period would likely result in an undercount of these groups.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIDA Seeking Comments on 2021-2025 Strategic Plan

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking stakeholder feedback on the draft version of its upcoming 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. The strategic plan is intended to guide the agency’s research priorities for the next five years by outlining cross-cutting research topics and approaches. NIDA’s draft strategic plan highlights several research topics that are relevant to the social and behavioral science community, including:

  • Identifying and developing approaches to reduce stigma,
  • Identifying and developing approaches to reduce health disparities,
  • Understanding differences based on sex and gender, and
  • Understanding interactions between substance use, HIV, and other conditions such as COVID-19.

Stakeholder feedback will be accepted through August 7, 2020. More information and the draft strategic plan is available on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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