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House Appropriations Subcommittees Begin Marking Up Spending Legislation

The House Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) and Agriculture and Rural Development (Ag) hosted markups last week on drafts of their fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bills. The CJS bill, which is responsible for funding the Census, the Department of Justice, and federal science agencies, among other programs, includes $8.2 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $408 million increase above the FY 2018 enacted amount. The Ag bill, which includes funding for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, does not endorse the large cut to the Economic Research Service (ERS) proposed in the President’s FY 2019 budget request. Full details of the committee’s spending recommendations are not yet public, but COSSA will provide complete analysis of the spending bills as language is made available. Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage here. Both bills are scheduled to be considered by the full Appropriations Committee later this week.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 15), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Recap of the 2018 COSSA Science Policy Conference

COSSA held its 2018 Science Policy Conference and Social Science Advocacy Day on April 30-May 1 in Washington, DC. The conference and advocacy day brought together COSSA members and other stakeholders for a day of discussion about federal policy impacting our science followed by the only annual, coordinated advocacy day in support of all of the social and behavioral sciences.

Plenary panels included “Post Truth: Communicating Facts, Not Fiction,” featuring feature William K. Hallman, Rutgers University; Cary Funk, Pew Research Center; and Melanie Green, University at Buffalo; “Me Too, Sexual Harassment in Science and the Academy,” featuring Elizabeth Armstrong, University of Michigan; Rhonda Davis, National Science Foundation; and Shirley Malcom, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and “Reestablishing Trust in Social Science & Data,” featuring feature Rush Holt, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Arthur Lupia, University of Michigan; and Brian Nosek, Center for Open Science. The 2018 meeting also featured topical breakout sessions on the theme “Why Social Science?” that covered National Security, the Opioid Epidemic, Natural Disasters, and Criminal Justice. Click here for COSSA’s summaries of the Conference sessions.

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Posted in Issue 9 (May 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Psychologist Kristina R. Olson Receives Alan T. Waterman Award

On April 12, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the 2018 Alan T. Waterman Award, the nation’s highest honor for early career scientists and engineers, would go to social and developmental psychologist Kristina R. Olson of the University of Washington. Olson is the first social scientist to receive the award since 2005 and is recognized for her “innovative contributions to understanding children’s attitudes toward and identification with social groups, early prosocial behavior, the development of notions of fairness, morality, inequality and the emergence of social biases.” More information can be found here. Olson and other awardees will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington on May 2.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 17), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

2020 Census to Ask About Citizenship; COSSA Releases Statement and Action Alert

On March 26, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross directed the Census Bureau to include a question about respondents’ citizenship in the 2020 Decennial Census. The decision was made in response to a request by the Department of Justice to add the question in order to support its enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, although it is unclear why current data is inadequate. Citizenship was last asked as part of the decennial census in 1950; since then it has been included on the census “long form,” which later became the American Community Survey (these differ from the decennial census in that they are sent to a sample of the U.S. population, not every household). In a memo outlining his decision, Ross stipulated that the question be asked last on the Census form. While the decision was reportedly made over the objections of the experts at the Census Bureau, the citizenship question was on the list of planned questions submitted to Congress on March 29.

The decision has raised concerns for those in the scientific community because the question was not part of the extensive research and testing the Census Bureau routinely conducts in the years leading up to a decennial census. The Bureau carefully evaluates all proposed changes to design and wording of the census to ensure that they do not affect the quality of the responses received. Asking about citizenship could alienate respondents in the immigrant community and potentially deter them from responding to the Census at all or answering inaccurately, resulting in an undercount of these populations and affecting the accuracy and integrity of the Census data. The Bureau is currently conducting the last major test of the 2020 Census operation, the 2018 End-to-End Test in Providence, RI, which is being administered without a citizenship question. Because the Bureau will not have been able to evaluate the impact of the question, we will not know how the question will affect responses until the 2020 Census is in the field. Given that the Census Bureau has a Constitutional obligation to count every member of the U.S. population, an increase in non-response would greatly increase the costs of the count, as more enumerators would need be sent to collect responses in person, at far greater expense than planned mail or internet outreach.

The decennial census is an irreplaceable source of data for researchers across the social sciences who use it to generate valuable findings about the U.S. population that can be used to inform evidence-based policies. In addition, information from the decennial census undergirds numerous other surveys and data sets at the Census Bureau and beyond, so a problem at the source would have far-reaching implications across the statistical system. COSSA strongly opposes the Department of Commerce’s decision and released a statement to that effect on March 27. In addition, COSSA issued an action alert to enable COSSA members to easily write to their Members of Congress and ask them to support legislation to remove the question. In addition, other COSSA members, including the American Statistical Association, Population Association of America, and the Social Science Research Council have released statements criticizing the decision.

At this stage, the only avenues to removing the question are legislation or a court ruling. Two bills (H.R. 5359 and S. 2580) have been introduced by Democrats in Congress that would bar the Census from asking about citizenship, but neither has bipartisan support, making passage unlikely. In addition, more than one law suit has been filed against the Administration, arguing that asking about citizenship is an attempt to depress the count of minority populations.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 3), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA Releases 2018 Edition of State Fact Sheets, New Federal Funding Dashboard

state funding dashboardCOSSA has released the 2018 edition of its state funding fact sheets, a set of one-pagers that highlight the amount of federal social science research funding that goes to each state, as well as the top recipient institutions and sources of federal funding. Accompanying this year’s fact sheets is a brand-new federal funding dashboard with an interactive map so you can easily compare states and see how funding is distributed across all the universities within a state. These resources are produced using the most recent available data (fiscal year 2016) from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics’ Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Releases Additional Details of FY 2019 Budget Request

On February 28, full details of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) were released. Preliminary details were unveiled on February 12 with the rest of the President’s FY 2019 budget.

The President’s request includes a total of $7.5 billion for NSF in FY 2019, which is flat with the FY 2017 enacted level (Note: FY 2018 appropriations have not yet been completed, so comparisons are made to the last enacted level). As previously reported, prior to enactment last month of a bipartisan budget deal to raise discretionary spending caps, the Administration’s budget proposal for NSF was $5.3 billion, a nearly 30 percent cut to the agency. Unfortunately, the newly released details show that the additional funding associated with raising the caps would not be spread evenly across the foundation. Instead, the request seeks to reprioritize funds toward NSF’s Big Ideas initiatives at the expense of several existing programs and activities. Of particular concern is the disproportionate treatment of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) in the request, which would see a cut of 9.1 percent from FY 2017 (11.2 percent to its research and education activities). This is compared to the other directorates that would be held flat or cut by one or two percent.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the NSF FY 2019 Budget Request.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Trump Releases FY 2019 Budget Request; Read COSSA’s Analysis of Social Science Impacts

On February 12, the Trump Administration began releasing details of its fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request to Congress, although details for some agencies (such as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health) have yet to be released and are expected in the coming days or weeks. In light of a recent bipartisan agreement to increase discretionary spending over the next two years, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released an addendum to the FY 2019 budget outlining a number of adjustments to the budget request. However, the President’s views the new spending caps as a “ceiling” for FY 2019 funding, not as a funding target. As such, the request violates the budget deal by seeking to shift $57 billion away from nondefense discretionary spending and over to the defense side of the ledger.

The bottom line when considering the Trump Administration’s proposals for FY 2019 is that it remains a political, largely symbolic document that outlines the Administration’s priorities for the year ahead; 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, Congress is not likely to go along with the bulk of the President’s recommendations, especially cuts for research and domestic programs writ large.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s proposals as they pertain to social and behavioral science research. Supplements to this report will be issued as additional agency details are released.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Senate Commerce Committee Hears Updates from NSF, NIST Leaders

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation featured Dr. France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Dr. Walter Copan, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in a hearing on January 30 to examine the implementation of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). AICA was signed into law during the final days of the Obama Administration in January 2017. AICA’s priorities included maximizing basic research, improving STEM education, and encouraging commercialization and technology transfer opportunities. Both NSF and NIST have taken many steps toward implementing the law including increasing oversight and accountability at both agencies and emphasizing the priorities of the act at their agencies. Dr. Córdova’s written testimony included a complete analysis of the steps NSF has taken to comply with the policy directives in the AICA.

During the hearing, Senators from both parties expressed concern about the U.S. being surpassed by China and other countries in terms of funding for science and innovation and called for continued diligence on the part of Congress and federal science agencies to maintain the U.S.’s position as the world’s leading innovator. Many Senators also discussed the importance of extending research opportunities and STEM education to diverse populations including community colleges, colleges and universities in EPSCoR states, minority communities, and women.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

After Three-Day Shutdown, Congress Passes Funding through February 8

Congressional leaders came to an agreement on January 22 to reopen the government after a three-day shutdown by passing another stopgap spending bill, this time to keep the government open and flat-funded until February 8. Fiscal year (FY) 2018 started October 1, 2017 and Congress has yet to pass any appropriation bills for the year.

Congress came to the funding impasse on January 19 after the Senate failed to reach an agreement on immigration policy, which will now likely occupy much of Congress’ energy until the continuing resolution expires on February 8, at which point the federal government could be facing yet another shutdown. As COSSA has previously reported, Congress must also come to an agreement on the top-line spending levels allowed by law before finishing the FY 2018 appropriations process. Read more of COSSA’s reporting on FY 2018 here.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 23), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Early Bird Registration Open for 2018 COSSA Science Policy Conference

Early bird registration is now open for COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference & Social Science Advocacy Day, which will take place on April 30 – May 1 in Washington, DC. Registration rates will increase on January 16, so register now! Attendees affiliated with COSSA member organizations can receive an additional discount by using their exclusive member coupon code (email jmilton@cossa.org for details). In addition, students can register for a special price of $50. Interested students should email jmilton@cossa.org with your field of study, university, and anticipated year of graduation to receive the student discount code. More information about the conference, including sponsorship information and details on the conference hotel block, is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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