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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.

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

House Panel Approves FY 2020 Funding for NSF, Census, BJS, and NIJ

On May 22, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill; the CJS Subcommittee advanced the bill on May 17. This bill contains annual funding proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Census Bureau, among other federal departments and agencies. Overall, the House bill is favorable to agencies important to the COSSA community, with increases proposed across the bill’s jurisdiction.

At a glance…

  • The House CJS bill includes $8.6 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 2020, which, if appropriated, would be a significant increase of more than $561 million or 7 percent over FY 2019.
  • The House bill would provide the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) with $37 million and $43 million, respectively. This would represent flat funding for NIJ and BJS compared to their FY 2019 funding levels.
  • The House’s proposal would provide the Census Bureau with a total of $8.45 billion for FY 2020, which is $2.3 billion above the amount requested by the Administration and in line with the amount sought by the Census stakeholder community.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the House Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Census Bureau.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 28), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Holds Largest-Ever Social Science Advocacy Day

COSSA held its largest-ever Social Science Advocacy Day on May 1. Over 70 social and behavioral science researchers, stakeholders, and advocates met with their Members of Congress and staff to advocate in support of funding for federal agencies and programs that support social and behavioral science research. Advocates from 20 states converged on Capitol Hill, completing 77 individual meetings.  Materials used to help articulate the value of social science research are available on the COSSA website, including fact sheets on COSSA’s FY 2019 funding requests and new topical one-pagers. To participate in social science advocacy from home, visit COSSA’s Take Action page.

The previous day, COSSA hosted an Advocacy Day prep seminar, which featured a kickoff presentation from Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Leshner’s talk, “Why Support Social Science—and How to Say It,” drew on his experience leading several high-profile National Academies panels, The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities and Communicating Science Effectively. Leshner encouraged advocates to focus on framing their interactions with policymakers as a conversation, rather than attempting to “educate” their audience. He advised participants to use narratives in their discussions, connect their research to local issues, and try to avoid dichotomies like “hard” and “soft” science or “qualitative” and “quantitative” research. Leshner observed that while the social sciences have indeed historically faced skepticism from policymakers, today, many understand that insights from these sciences will be required to address complex problems—and social scientists should take advantage of this opportunity to further communicate the value of their disciplines.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

May 1 Is Social Science Advocacy Day!

Tomorrow, May 1, is Social Science Advocacy Day! COSSA will be supporting about 75 advocates who will head to Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of social science research and funding with policymakers. Watch COSSA’s Take Action page for an action alert to be released tomorrow that will allow you to join in from anywhere by writing to your Congressional representatives in support of social science. Join the action on Twitter by using #COSSA2019 and #whysocialscience.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 30), 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.

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

Administration Releases FY 2020 Budget Request; Read COSSA’s Analysis of Social Science Impacts

On March 11, the Trump Administration released a preview of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request to Congress, with additional details unveiled the following weeks. The budget was delivered about a month late, largely due to the partial government shutdown that paralyzed much of the federal workforce throughout December and January.

The President’s request proposes steep cuts to all corners of the federal budget, with the exception of national security-focused agencies which would see significant boosts. When considering the Trump Administration’s proposals for FY 2020 it is important to remember that the budget request remains a political, largely symbolic document outlining the Administration’s priorities for the years ahead. It is important to take note of the policy priorities contained within the budget as they could shape some legislative and/or executive actions later in the year; however, as is always the case, Congress has the final say over the appropriation of funds and, in the case of the FY 2020 budget request, legislators are not likely to share the President’s funding priorities, especially cuts to research, the elimination of entire agencies, and reductions in domestic funding more generally.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s proposals as they pertain to social and behavioral science research. You can read our supplement on the Department of Commerce budget request (which was released late) here.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), 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.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), 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.

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

Compromise on FY 2019 Funding Reached, Averting Second Shutdown; Read COSSA’s Analysis of the Omnibus

After the longest partial-government shutdown in U.S. history, Congress came to a compromise on February 14 on funding the entire federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2019, which began on October 1, 2018. The omnibus spending package contains 7 individual appropriations bills, including the Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; Interior and Environment; Homeland Security; Financial Services and General Government; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills. On February 15, President Trump signed the bill into law, closing a painful chapter and officially kicking off work on FY 2020 funding.

The final package includes necessary increases for many programs important to the social and behavioral sciences including the National Science Foundation and the Census Bureau.

The Trump Administration will soon release its budget request for FY 2020. While the budget will have very little bearing on the funding debates in Congress, it will provide valuable insight into the science policy and funding priorities of the Administration. At the end of the day, the Congress holds the power of the purse and decides the level of taxpayer support for research.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of final FY 2019 funding for the National Science Foundation, Census Bureau, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and National Institute of Justice.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Social Scientists Encouraged to Explore NSF’s Ten Big Ideas Solicitations

Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) of the National Science Foundation (NSF), is calling on social and behavioral scientists to learn more about, and consider applying for, the funding opportunities associated with the NSF Ten Big Ideas for Future Investment. The Ideas focus on critical issues in science and society and provide potentially substantial opportunities for social and behavioral scientists—from planning grants to research infrastructure. The letter includes details of the Big Ideas, links to more information, and directions to join informational webinars. Read the letter below for detail. More information about the Ten Big Ideas can be found on the NSF website.


Substantial Funding Opportunities from NSF Relevant to SBE Scientists

Dear Colleague,

There are new funding opportunities at NSF that might be of interest to you. They are called the “Big Ideas” and they focus on critical issues in science and society. The purpose of each Big Idea is to motivate dynamic and innovative scholars to create and implement new and potentially transformative interdisciplinary approaches to some very large societal challenges.

I encourage

  • every social scientist,
  • every behavioral scientist,
  • every member of an organization who is willing to collaborate with social or behavioral scientists, and
  • every scholar who is looking for new opportunities to advance science in ways that best serve the public

to think “big”.

Here are some of the opportunities now available:

  1. Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Data are being created, distributed, and used at a scale that is unprecedented in human history. This Big Idea encourages NSF’s research community to pursue broad, interdisciplinary research in data science and engineering, and to explore its implications for social interaction and organization. This Big Idea seeks to help society better understand, and more effectively develop, a cohesive, federated, national-scale approach to research data infrastructure, and knowledge needed to empower a 21st-century data-capable workforce. The HDR vision is realized through an interrelated set of activities and funding opportunities. Each of these efforts is designed to amplify the intrinsically multidisciplinary nature of the emerging field of data science.
    Multiple Funding Opportunities:

  2. The Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier: This Big Idea seeks to help society better understand, and more effectively build, the human-technology relationship in the context of work. Relevant activities include assessing the social and behavioral implications of automation; producing new technologies to augment human performance; developing and evaluating mechanisms to foster lifelong and pervasive learning with technology; and many more.
    Funding Opportunity:

  3. Navigating the New Arctic: The Arctic is undergoing rapid biological, physical, and social change, not only its shape and surface properties, but also the ways in which humans can interact with it. This Big Idea seeks to help society better understand, and more effectively adapt to how Arctic change will influence communities both in the Arctic and beyond. This initiative is not just for people already studying the Arctic. It is for anyone whose work is potentially pertinent to New Arctic issues.
    Funding Opportunity:

  4. Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure: At NSF, the term “mid-scale” infrastructure refers to projects that, once built, can help many researchers conduct diverse analyses from a single platform. The budget for these projects can range from $6.0 million to $70.0 million over a five-year period. This Big Idea is designed to motivate entrepreneurial research teams to create new and innovative research platforms.
    Two Funding Opportunities:

  5. Growing Convergence Research: Research relying on convergence is needed to solve complex scientific and engineering problems that require integrating knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forming novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation. This is research driven by a specific and compelling problem and features deep integration across disciplines.
    More details are expected soon.

Two additional Big Ideas do not currently have open funding opportunities; but could be a source of new solicitations in the future.

Understanding the Rules of Life: This Big Idea seeks broad interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the regularities that guide or influence the emergence of observable characteristics, i.e., phenotype, in organisms across the tree of life, including humans. Previously, this program sought proposals in two areas: Epigenetics, and Building a Synthetic Cell. While the subject matter of future calls has not been determined, we anticipate calls that include a significant role for social and behavioral scientists.

NSF INCLUDES: This Big Idea seeks to help scholars develop, implement, and evaluate new ways to transform education and career pathways in ways that broaden participation in science and engineering.  The INCLUDES initiative is aimed at expanding the number of underrepresented scientists and engineers within the U.S. scientific workforce.  To accomplish this, NSF INCLUDES has supported the development of a national network of a broad array of research centers and sites, both public and private, with varied STEM foci ranging from community water research to environmental engineering.

Please spend a few minutes learning about the Big Ideas. These new funding opportunities, along with NSF’s existing social and behavioral science programs, offer exciting opportunities for innovative scholars who are interested in transformative, problem-inspired, basic research. If you have questions about these or other SBE programs, please contact the program officers listed at the bottom of each opportunity’s main page.

The Big Ideas offer a great opportunity for social and behavioral scientists to advance science and address important social problems. We would like to see strong proposals from our community in the weeks and months to come.

Sincerely,

Arthur Lupia
Assistant Director
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
National Science Foundation

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

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