Blog Archives

COSSA Endorses Bill to Combat Sexual Harassment in Science

On October 2, COSSA released a statement in support of H.R. 7031, the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2018. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, would provide funding to the National Science Foundation to establish a grant program to study the causes and consequences of sexual harassment in the scientific workforce, efficacy of interventions, and methods of remediating the negative impacts of sexual harassment. This legislation would also direct data collection about sexual harassment in science and establish and interagency working group to address this important issue. Read the full statement on COSSA’s website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 16), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Seeks Nominations for the 2019 Alan T. Waterman Award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor awarded by the NSF to early-career researchers. The annual award recognizes an outstanding young researcher, 40 years of age or younger or no more than 10 years beyond receipt of their Ph.D., in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $1,000,000 over a five-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, social or other sciences at the institution of the recipient’s choice. Psychologist Kristina R. Olson received the 2018 Waterman award and was the first social scientist to receive the award since 2005. More information can be found on the NSF website. Nominations may be submitted until October 22, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Social Psychologists Among 2018 Golden Goose Award Recipients

The seventh annual Golden Goose Award Ceremony was held on September 13 in Washington, DC to honor seemingly obscure federally funded research that resulted in “tremendous human and economic benefit.” Many members of Congress joined the honorees in recognizing the importance of federal-funded scientific research including Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The honorees included the social and behavioral scientists that pioneered the study of implicit bias and the Implicit Association Test. More information about the award, videos of the honorees, and complete coverage of the event can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 18), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

USDA Announces Plans to Move NIFA and ERS out of DC, Realign ERS with Chief Economist

In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it plans to move two science agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) (one of USDA’s two principal statistical agencies) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) (USDA’s main extramural research agency), out of the Washington, D.C. region. USDA cited high attrition rates at these agencies as justification for moving them out of the region, although no data was provided. The Department also plans to administratively realign ERS from its current place within the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area to the Office of the Chief Economist, citing their “similar missions,” although ERS is an official statistical agency bound by a set of directives and standards, while the Office of the Chief Economist primarily serves a policy-focused role. ERS’ longtime administrator, Mary Bohman, was reassigned ahead of this announcement.

The announcement has raised concerns for many in the science community. The move outside the D.C. area would almost certainly lead to a loss of highly specialized, expert staff at both agencies, and many are skeptical of the Department’s argument that retention is a problem for these agencies (both of which had been operating under a long-term hiring freeze). In addition, moving ERS from the research and data arm of USDA (which also includes ERS’s sister statistical agency, the National Agricultural Statistics Service) to a policy-focused area of the Department raises concerns about the agency’s ability to safeguard the independence of its data and findings.

USDA plans to proceed with these moves without Congressional or stakeholder approval. A Federal Register notice asking jurisdictions to volunteer to host one or both agencies (the deadline is September 14), but no other public feedback was requested. The Department expects the move to be completed by the end of 2019. COSSA has joined two letters (available here and here) asking Congress to intervene to stop USDA from moving ERS (a letter focused on NIFA is forthcoming).

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 4), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Kelvin Droegemeier Nominated to Lead OSTP

On August 1, President Trump nominated Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP director has traditionally, but not always, held the title of Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, otherwise known as the president’s science advisor, but it is not clear if Droegemeier would fill this role as well. Dr. Droegemeier holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric science and has served on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma in Norman for 33 years and as the university’s vice president for research since 2009. OU is a COSSA member university. Additionally, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to the National Science Board in 2004, was reappointed by President Obama in 2011, and served as the vice-chair of the board for four years.

Droegemeier’s nomination now awaits approval by the Senate but has come as a relief to much of the scientific community. President Trump took twice as much time as any other modern president to name an OSTP Director and his administration has routinely eschewed scientific expertise in its decision making. OSTP is responsible for providing scientific and technological analysis and judgment to the President, leading interagency science and technology policy coordination efforts, and assisting the Office of Management and Budget with an annual review and analysis of Federal research and development in budgets.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 7), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Steven Dillingham Nominated to Lead Census Bureau

Dr. Steven Dillingham was nominated on July 18 by President Trump to serve as the Director of the Census Bureau within the Department of Commerce. Dillingham currently directs the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning for the Peace Corps and previously led the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. He holds a Ph.D. in political science, as well as a law degree, an MBA, and a master’s degree in public administration. Given his record of leadership within the federal statistical system, Dillingham’s nomination is a welcome departure from the type of controversial, politically-motivated candidates the Administration was previously reported to have considered.

The job of the director of the Census Bureau has been empty for more than a year and, if confirmed by the Senate, Dillingham will direct the Bureau through a difficult time, as the 2020 Census quickly approaches and the Bureau is under heightened scrutiny for the controversial decision to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 questionnaire. Upon his confirmation, Dillingham would serve out the remainder of the current five-year term, ending in December 31, 2021.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 24), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Arthur Lupia to Lead NSF’s Social Science Directorate

Dr. Lupia at COSSA's 2018 Science Policy Conference

Dr. Lupia at COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it has chosen Dr. Arthur “Skip” Lupia to serve as the next head of its Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), following the expiration of Dr. Fay Lomax Cook’s term. Dr. Lupia is currently the Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. He is also the chairman of the board for the Center for Open Science and the chair of the National Academies Roundtable on the Communication and Use of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Lupia served on COSSA’s Board of Directors in 2014 and participated in a panel discussion on “Reestablishing Trust in Social Science and Data” during COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference. His research interests include voting, elections, persuasion, opinion change, civic education, coalition governance, legislative-bureaucratic relationships, and decision-making under uncertainty.

In a press release accompanying the announcement, NSF Director France Córdova states, “Arthur Lupia takes leadership of a directorate whose research portfolio touches on major challenges our nation faces. Better understanding human behavior is important to improving cyber security and increasing resilience in the face of natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and broad ecological changes. The social sciences have made a profound contribution to the efficiency of markets, organ donations, and the safety of the skies and our inner cities. Dr. Lupia’s outstanding ability as a communicator will be instrumental to making the value of the social sciences widely understood.”

Dr. Lupia’s term as Assistant Director for SBE will begin on September 1. COSSA congratulates him on his appointment and looks forward to working with him in his new role to continue to advance the social and behavioral sciences.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 10), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Trump Administration Releases Proposal to Reorganize the Federal Government

The Trump Administration released its comprehensive plan to restructure and reorganize the federal government on June 21, Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, which includes proposals to make major changes to the federal bureaucracy and social safety net programs. This plan continues efforts by the Administration to restructure and reduce the size of the federal government. Implementing the majority of the reforms proposed would require Congressional action—and are therefore unlikely to be realized—but they provide clear insight into the priorities of the Administration and serve as a blueprint for possible actions over the next few years.

The plan proposes sweeping reorganization and consolidation of federal departments and agencies, including combining the Departments of Labor and Education into a single “Department of Education and the Workforce,” and moving several public assistance programs into the Department of Health and Human Services and renaming it the “Department of Health and Public Welfare.” Generally, with a few notable exceptions, agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences are left largely intact. Of the major changes in the plan, the proposals most likely to affect the social and behavioral sciences (each discussed in detail below) would:

  • Merge the Departments of Education and Labor and change federal student aid servicing at the Department of Education.
  • Consolidate the administration of graduate fellowships from multiple agencies under the National Science Foundation.
  • Move the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Department of Commerce.
  • Establish a public-private government effectiveness research center.
  • Set government-wide polices for evaluation.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the government-wide reorganization proposals, keeping in mind that most of the changes would require Congressional action, which is not likely at this time. As for next steps, the report states that the Administration will now “begin a dialogue with Congress to prioritize and refine proposals to best serve the American people.”

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 26), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH Releases Data Science Strategic Plan

On June 4, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its first strategic plan for data science. The strategic plan will serve as a roadmap for modernizing the NIH-supported biomedical data science ecosystem and provide leadership within the broader biomedical research data community. NIH will begin implementing the plan over the next year and focus on usability of NIH-funded biomedical data sets and resources, integration of existing data management tools and development of new ones, and the growing costs of data management. NIH will seek community input during the implementation phase and plans to hire a Chief Data Strategist to help advance data science across the intramural and extramural research communities. Read more here.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 12), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

House Panel Passes FY 2019 Funding for NSF, Census, NIJ

On May 17, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill; the bill was marked up in subcommittee on May 9. The CJS bill serves as the vehicle for annual appropriations for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Census Bureau, National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and many other federal departments and agencies. The Senate has not yet released the details of its CJS bill.

At a Glance…

  • The House CJS bill includes $8.2 billion for NSF in FY 2019, which is 5.2 percent above the FY 2018 enacted level and 9.4 percent above the President’s request.
  • The House bill would provide NIJ with $44 million and BJS with $50 million, which is 4.8 and 4.2 percent, respectively, above the FY 2018 enacted level and 22 percent above the President’s request.
  • The House bill would provide the Census Bureau with $4.8 billion in discretionary funding for FY 2019. That amount is an increase of $2 billion compared to FY 2018 and $1 billion more than the amount requested by the Administration.
  • The House bill includes $99 million for the Economics and Statistics Administration, which houses BEA, flat with FY 2018 and $2 million below the President’s request.

The next step for the bill is consideration by the full House. However, with the August recess quickly approaching, and this being an election year, floor time is extremely limited. It remains to be seen whether/how House leadership will proceed with the individual appropriations bills this year. It is all but certain that FY 2019 will being on October 1, 2018 under a continuing resolution (CR).

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 the Census Bureau.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 29), Update, Volume 37 (2018)


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