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OSTP Requests Feedback on Data Repositories and Data Sharing

The While House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Request for Public Comment on January 17 on Draft Desirable Characteristics of Repositories for Managing and Sharing Data Resulting from Federally Funded Research. The request, published in the Federal Register, was issued on behalf of the multi-agency Subcommittee on Open Science of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science. The proposed set of desirable characteristics are intended to improve the consistency of information that federal agencies provide to the scientific community about the long-term preservation of data resulting from federally funded research.

The Subcommittee on Open Science will use the feedback to develop a common set of characteristics that federal research funding agencies can use to improve the management and sharing of data from federally funded research. Comments are due by March 6, 2020. The full Request for Comment can be read in the Federal Register.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 21), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

2020 Census Count Begins in Rural Alaska

The U.S. Census Bureau starts counting the population of rural Alaska for the 2020 Census on January 21 in the remote Alaskan village of Toksook Bay. The decennial Census traditionally begins counting the populations in remote Alaskan villages much earlier than the official Census Day due to the hard-to-count nature of the region. The count of the rest of the U.S. population will officially start on Census Day, April 1. More information about the timeline of the 2020 Census can be found on the 2020 Census website.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 21), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Sethuraman Panchanathan Nominated to Lead National Science Foundation

The White House announced on December 19 that President Trump intends to nominate Sethuraman Panchanathan to a six-year term as Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Current NSF Director France Córdova’s term ends in March. Panchanathan has been a member of the National Science Board since 2014 and leads “knowledge enterprise development” at Arizona State University (ASU). Panchanathan holds his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering and was central in founding the School of Computing and Informatics and the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing at ASU. Following Córdova’s retirement in March, Panchanathan’s nomination will require approval by the Senate.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

White House Finalizes 2020 Data Strategy Action Plan

The White House has released its final 2020 Action Plan for the Federal Data Strategy (see COSSA’s previous coverage). 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 its 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 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, which was signed into law in 2019. A draft plan was released over the summer and the final version was revised in response to feedback received (see the detailed description of changes made).

The steps planned for 2020 are organized into three categories—actions to be taken by agencies, actions to be taken by a specific agency or group of agencies related to a common topic, and government-wide data services and pilot projects.

Agency Actions

  • Action 1: Identify Data Needs to Answer Priority Agency Questions
  • Action 2: Institutionalize Agency Data Governance
  • Action 3: Assess Data and Related Infrastructure Maturity
  • Action 4: Identify Opportunities to Increase Staff Data Skills
  • Action 5: Identify Priority Data Assets for Agency Open Data Plans
  • Action 6: Publish and Update Data Inventories

Community of Practice Actions

  • Action 7: Launch a Federal Chief Data Officer Council
  • Action 8: Improve Data and Model Resources for AI Research and Development
  • Action 9: Improve Financial Management Data Standards
  • Action 10: Integrate Geospatial Data Practices into the Federal Data Enterprise

Shared Solution Actions

  • Action 11: Develop a Repository of Federal Enterprise Data Resources
  • Action 12: Create an OMB Federal Data Policy Committee
  • Action 13: Develop a Curated Data Skills Catalog
  • Action 14: Develop a Data Ethics Framework
  • Action 15: Develop a Data Protection Toolkit
  • Action 16: Pilot a One-stop Standard Research Application
  • Action 17: Pilot an Automated Tool for Information Collection Reviews that Supports Data Inventory Creation and Updates
  • Action 18: Pilot Enhanced Data Management Tool for Federal Agencies
  • Action 19: Develop Data Quality Measuring and Reporting Guidance
  • Action 20: Develop a Data Standards Repository

The Strategy outlines a series of milestones, measurements, target dates, and responsible entities for each action. The full action plan is available on the data strategy website. COSSA will continue to report on the activities related to the Data Strategy as the actions are implemented and the next year’s action plan is developed.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Institute of Mental Health Requests Information on Draft 2020 Strategic Plan

In December 2019, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) within the National Institutes of Health released a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting public feedback on its draft Strategic Plan for Research. NIMH publishes a strategic plan for research every five years with updates to the Institute’s stated research priorities. The deadline to submit feedback has been extended to January 15, 2020. The draft of the strategic plan and more information can be found on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NSF Releases Dear Colleague Letter on Social Science Perspectives on Graduate Education

On December 16, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter, signed by the Assistant Directors for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) and the Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR), to draw the attention of the social science community to funding opportunities in the two directorates related to research in graduate education. The letter (NSF 20-030) follows a workshop and report from the National Academies of Sciences on Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century and a workshop on Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Funding opportunities include research grants, traineeships, and capacity grants intended to identify innovative approaches to transform graduate education. More information can be found on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Seeking Comments on Inclusion Across the Lifespan II Workshop

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking stakeholder input on a planned workshop on Inclusion Across the Lifespan, a policy intended to encourage inclusion of underrepresented participants in clinical studies. The Inclusion Across the Lifespan II Workshop is a follow-up to a 2017 workshop mandated by Congress in the 21st Century Cures Act. Comments will remain open until February 15, 2020. More information can be found in the NIH guide notice.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

ICPSR Launches Pilot Tool to Streamline Access to Restricted Federal Data

In December, ICPSR at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research released a new tool to simplify the application process for accessing restricted microdata from principal statistical agencies. ResearchDataGov gives researchers access to a single portal and a standard application to access restricted data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. More federal data sources are expected to be added as the pilot moves forward.

The project is supported by funding from the Census Bureau under the direction of the White House Office of Management and Budget. It was created thanks to a requirement in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, which required that the government simplify the application process for external researchers to access federal data (see COSSA’s previous coverage). More details can be found on the ICSPSR website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Updates Diversity Statement

On November 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a notice updating the agency’s official statement on diversity in research settings. In a blog post by Deputy Director for Extramural Research at NIH Dr. Mike Lauer, the main reason for the updated statement was to expand the criteria for qualifying as an individual from a low socio-economic background. In the post, Lauer claims “this revised definition should better capture many scientists with a disadvantaged background, and be relatively easy to assess, ensuring we continue enhancing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.” The updated diversity statement and the previous diversity statement can both be found on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 10), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

OSTP Seeks Input on Research Environment

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a request for information (RFI) on the research environment. Comments will be used to inform the work of the Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE), a committee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). JCORE was established in May 2019 and comprises four subcommittees: (1) Research Rigor and Integrity; (2) Coordinating Administrative Requirements for Research; (3) Research Security; and (4) Safe and Inclusive Research Environments (see previous coverage).

The request asks for information on actions that Federal agencies can take, working in partnership with private industry, academic institutions, and non-profit/philanthropic organizations, to maximize the quality and effectiveness of the American research environment across JCORE’s four main areas. More information on the specific questions JCORE is seeking feedback on are available in the Federal Register notice. Comments are due by 11:59 pm ET on December 23, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 10), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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