Blog Archives

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)

COSSA Asks OMB to Remove Census Citizenship Question

In response to a Federal Register request, COSSA submitted a comment to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting that, should a Census citizenship question be reinstated by the Supreme Court, as has been proposed by the Trump Administration, OMB remove it from the 2020 Census on the grounds that it violates the Paperwork Reduction Act. COSSA argues that including the question “is of minimal practical utility or public benefit, will increase the burden on respondents, and will harm the integrity and accuracy of information collected for statistical purposes.” The full comment is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Science Foundation Invites Participation in Convergence Accelerator Pilot

In a Dear Colleague letter released on March 18, the National Science Foundation (NSF) invited interested parties to participate in the NSF Convergence Accelerator Pilot. The NSF Convergence Accelerators Pilot seeks to accelerate use-inspired convergence research in areas of national importance by facilitating convergent team-building capacity around exploratory, potentially high-risk proposals. The Pilot seeks proposals to support fundamental research while encouraging rapid advances through partnerships that include, or will include, multiple stakeholders in three research tracks aligned with two of the NSF Ten Big Ideas. The three research tracks are: Open Knowledge Network (as part of the Harnessing the Data Revolution Big Idea), AI and the Future of Jobs (as part of the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier Big Idea), and National Talent Ecosystem (as part of the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier Big Idea).

The submission of a Research Concept Outline is due April 15, with full proposals due by June 3.  NSF will host two webinars, on March 27 and April 3, to answer questions about the submission process and the Convergence Accelerator program more broadly. More information about the Convergence Accelerator program is available on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

William Beach Confirmed as BLS Commissioner

On March 13, William Beach was confirmed as the next Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics after a protracted wait. Beach was originally nominated by the Trump Administration in October 2017 (see COSSA’s previous coverage). He is an economist who spent much of his career at conservative think tanks and was most recently Vice President at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.  He also spent several years as Chief Economist for the Senate Budget Committee Republican Staff and has been involved in the evidence-based policy-making activities of the last several years. The Friends of BLS, of which COSSA is a member, endorsed his nomination. He succeeds William Wiatrowski, who has been Acting Commissioner since January 2017 when Erica Groshen’s term expired. Beach will be tasked with leading the Bureau as it faces the relocation of its headquarters and a potential move from the Department of Labor to the Department of Commerce.

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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)

NIH Publishes Update on Efforts to Address Sexual Harassment in Science

On February 28, the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released an update on efforts underway at NIH to address sexual harassment in science. The update outlines that, following the National Academies of Sciences’ report on sexual harassment of women in science, NIH established the Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment. The task of the working group is to assess the current state of sexual harassment, advise on accountability measures, propose policies, and develop strategies for encouraging research on anti-harassment policies and measures of their effectiveness. The Working Group met for the first time this month and will report interim recommendations in June and provide a final report and recommendations to the ACD in December. The update also lists several themes that will be at the center of the working group’s recommendations including demonstrating accountability and transparency, clarifying expectations for institutions and investigators to ensure a safe workplace and inform the agency, providing clear channels of communication to NIH, and listening to victims and survivors of sexual harassment and incorporating their perspectives into future actions. More information can be found in the NIH website.

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

COSSA Submits Comments on Draft NICHD Strategic Plan

On January 2, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released a request for information (RFI) to accompany the institute’s strategic plan for the next five years, allowing the community to comment on the scientific themes, goals, and opportunities under consideration in the new plan. On February 15, COSSA submitted an official response to the RFI on behalf of the social and behavioral science community. COSSA’s comments included the following recommendations:

  • The Strategic Plan should focus on the “whole person,” to include research on development at the molecular, cellular, social, environmental, behavioral, biobehavioral, and other levels.
  • The Strategic Plan should not overlook the importance of research at all stages of child development, from prenatal/infancy through adolescence, and in normative and non-normative or at-risk environments.
  • The Strategic Plan should strongly emphasize research on social determinants of health.

More information about the NICHD strategic plan can be found on the institute’s website; COSSA’s comments can be found here.

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

Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Census Citizenship Question

The Supreme Court has announced that it will consider whether the Secretary of Commerce was within his rights to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census, after a judge in a lower court struck down the question in January. The Court agreed to hear arguments in the case in April and render a decision by the end of June to give the Administration enough time to make final preparations for the Census to be conducted next year. As COSSA has reported, the decision to add the citizenship question without conducting research to ensure the quality of Census data would be maintained has been a major concern for the science and research community.

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

Department of Commerce Seeks Input on 2020 Census Data Collection

The Department of Commerce has released a request for information on whether the data collection planned for the 2020 Census meets the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Given the ongoing battle over the legality of the citizenship question (see previous article), the White House Office of Management and Budget, which is charged with ensuring the Bureau complies with administrative procedures, will evaluate the proposed data collection on two tracks: one containing the citizenship question and one without. According to the Federal Register notice: “Should the government prevail in pending litigation regarding the reinstatement of the citizenship question, the Census Bureau will include the citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire.” The notice was originally released during the government shutdown but has been re-released to allow more time for stakeholders to submit comments. More information is available in the Federal Register notice. Comments must be submitted by March 15, 2019.

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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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