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National Science Board Seeks Nominations for 2020 Honorary Awards

The National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), has issued a solicitation for nominations for its 2020 honorary awards. The NSB honors outstanding research leaders annually through its Vannevar Bush Award and Public Service Award.

The Vannevar Bush Award is given to leaders “who have made exceptional contributions toward the welfare of humankind and the nation through public service activities in science, technology, and public policy.” The Public Service Award honors individuals or groups who have made “substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States,” such as through education and training, social media, and other areas. Nominations for the 2020 awards are due by September 27, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 9), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Census Citizenship Question Saga Continues

Despite a decision from the Supreme Court, the fate of the Census citizenship question remains uncertain. While the ruling was expected to be the final word on whether the government could include a question on citizenship on the 2020 Census, the Supreme Court decided on June 27 that the question could only be asked if the government provided a different, more acceptable justification. However, with time running out to begin printing the necessary forms and other lawsuits working their way through lower courts, it was unclear whether enough time remained for the government to provide such a justification. See COSSA’s analysis of the decision for more details.

On July 2, the federal government announced that it had begun printing Census forms without a citizenship question, in what many believed to be an end to the controversy. However, after confusion and contradictory tweets from the President, federal officials said they were still looking for a way to add the question to the Census and intended to continue to fight the legal challenges. The government’s legal team defending the question was also replaced, in a sign that the Administration is not planning to accede to the standing rulings striking the question.

At this stage, many questions remain as to what Census documents are currently being printed, how much time the Census Bureau can realistically hold off on further printing without damaging the Census operation, how the Administration intends to justify the question, and whether enough time remains for the question to proceed through the court system. COSSA will continue to report on developments in the Washington Update.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 9), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

President Issues Executive Order to Reduce Number of Federal Advisory Committees

On June 14, the White House released an executive order directing federal agencies to eliminate at least one-third of their advisory committees by October 2019. The executive order applies to committees established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and provides exemptions for committees authorized in statute and merit review panels that are “necessary to fund extramural research.” While merit review panels are exempt from the order, science advisory committees—important for delivering scientific advice and guidance to agency leaders across the government—are not.

Agencies are directed to terminate at least one-third of their advisory committees by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2019. Agencies can seek waivers from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) if committees are “necessary for the delivery of essential services, for effective program delivery, or because it is otherwise warranted by the public interest.” The order can be read on the White House website and a database of FACA committees is available online. COSSA will be monitoring these developments and will report on any changes within agencies important to the social science community.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 25), 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.

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

NSF Seeks Input into 2026 Idea Machine Entries

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has reviewed the first round of submissions to the 2026 Idea Machine and now seeks the public’s input on which proposals should advance to the next round. As COSSA has reported, the Idea Machine is a competition to help set the agenda for fundamental research in U.S. science and engineering for the next decade, including the next set of Big Ideas. NSF received more than 800 idea submissions; 33 are still in the running for the grand prize, including projects involving the social and behavioral sciences. Volunteers can assist NSF by watching entrants’ video pitches, commenting on the potential impact of their Big Ideas, and providing suggestions on how the entries can be improved. Video pitches can be watched and reviewed online until June 26, 2019.

More information can be found on the NSF website.

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

NCES Releases Condition of Education Report

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released the 2019 Condition of Education report. This Congressionally-mandated annual report summarizes important developments and trends in education. The report covers 48 indicators on topics ranging from prekindergarten through postsecondary education, as well as labor force outcomes and international comparisons. The report also includes two “Spotlight” indicators, postsecondary enrollment for adults raised in high- and low-income socioeconomic families and postsecondary outcomes for nontraditional students, for which more in-depth analysis is provided. The complete report is available on the NCES website.

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

National Science Board Accepting Nominations

Nominations are being sought for new members of the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that also serves as an independent advisor to the President and Congress on federal science policy. The Board consists of 24 members who serve staggered six-year terms, with the NSF director serving as a 25th ex officio member. Nominations are considered by the NSB, which makes recommendations to the White House and new members of the Board are appointed by the President. For the incoming class of 2020-2026, the NSB is particularly interested in individuals with expertise in enterprise risk management, sociology, applied math and statistics, STEM education, among others. The complete list and other selection criteria are available in the NSB’s Dear Colleague letter. More information on the nomination process is available on the NSB website. Nominations are due by May 31, 2019.

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

NSF Convergence Accelerator Seeks Next Topics

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a request for information (RFI) on future topics for the NSF Convergence Accelerator. The Convergence Accelerator is a new capability within NSF to accelerate use-inspired, convergence research in areas of national importance via partnerships between academic and non-academic stakeholders and is currently focusing on the Big Ideas of Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) and Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR). The main purpose of this RFI is to seek ideas for future NSF Convergence Accelerator tracks. NSF seeks suggestions for future tracks that build on the foundational research developed by the HDR and FW-HTF Big Ideas that should be suitable for a multidisciplinary, convergence research approach, should address a grand challenge problem, and should have the potential to leverage partnerships between industry and academic researchers. Researchers and other stakeholders at higher education institutions, industry, non-profits and government entities are all invited to submit concepts for future NSF Convergence Accelerator tracks.

More information about the RFI can be found in the NSF’s Dear Colleague letter. More information about the Convergence Accelerator can be found on the NSF’s website.

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

White House Announces New Joint Committee on U.S. Research Community

On May 6, the White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) announced the formation of a new Joint Committee led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) addressing the issues and burdens facing the U.S. research community. Specific issues the Joint Committee will address are administrative burdens on federally funded research, rigor and integrity in research, inclusive and equitable research settings, and protecting American research assets. The Joint Committee will also engage with the research community for input on policy making. The Joint Committee’s membership will be comprised of OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, National Science Foundation Director France Córdova, National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Walt Copan, and Undersecretary for Science at the Department of Energy Paul Dabbar. More information about the NSTC can be found on the OSTP website.

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

Minerva Initiative Releases 2019 Funding Opportunity Announcement, Topics of Interest

The Minerva Research Initiative, the social science research program administered jointly by the Office of Basic Research and the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense, has released its 2019 funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and its 2019 topics of interest. The Minerva Research Initiative supports university-based, unclassified research in areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. Research topics of interest for 2019 include: peer/near-peer statecraft, influence, and regional balance of power; power, deterrence, and escalation management; alliances and burden sharing; economic interdependence and security; economic viability, resilience, and sustainability of logistics infrastructure; multi-domain behavioral complexity and computational social modeling; autonomy, artificial intelligence, machine ethics, and social interactions; models and methods for understanding covert online influence; and automated cyber vulnerability analysis.

White papers in response to the FOA are due by June 20 and full proposals must be submitted by September 26. More information can be found on the Minerva Research Initiative website.

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

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