Blog Archives

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).

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

NIH Releases RFI, Delays Enforcement of New Clinical Trials Policy

On July 20, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Guide Notice (NOT-OD-18-212) outlining its plans to delay enforcement of key clinical trials reporting requirements for projects traditionally considered basic research.

The Notice, Delayed Enforcement and Short-Term Flexibilities for Some Requirements Affecting Prospective Basic Science Studies Involving Human Participants, follows months of feedback and pressure on NIH from the external research community, including COSSA and several COSSA members, to rescind or at least delay implementation of NIH’s clinical trials policy announced in 2016. As previously reported, in an effort to enhance its stewardship of and increase transparency over the clinical trials it funds, NIH established a new definition of “clinical trials,” which now captures some basic behavioral and social sciences research and comes with new reporting requirements (see COSSA’s Hot Topic piece for details).

NIH has now released a Request for Information (RFI) (NOT-OD-18-217) seeking input on the standards NIH should use in registration and results reporting for prospective basic science studies involving human participants. A blog post from the NIH Office of Extramural Research outlines the following specific topics for which the RFI is seeking comments:

  • “Examples of prospective basic science studies involving human participants that pose the greatest challenges in meeting the registration and results information submission requirements at ClinicalTrials.gov, including specific reasons for these challenges (e.g., specific data elements);
  • Strengths and weaknesses of potential alternative platforms that might function as conduits for timely registration and reporting of prospective basic science studies involving human participants;
  • Additional data elements or modification to existing data elements that could be applied to ClinicalTrials.gov to better meet the needs of the public and of researchers in assuring timely registration and results information submission of prospective basic science studies involving human participants;
  • Other existing reporting standards for prospective basic science studies involving human participants and how such standards would fulfill the aims described in the NIH Policy on the Dissemination of NIH-Funded Clinical Trial Information; and
  • Any other point the respondent feels is relevant for NIH to consider in implementing this policy for timely registration and reporting of prospective basic science studies involving human participants.”

Responses to the RFI must be submitted by November 12, 2018.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

White House Seeks Input on New Government Effectiveness Research Center

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently issued a request for information (RFI) to inform the establishment of a new Government Effectiveness and Advanced Research (GEAR) Center. The GEAR Center was proposed in the White House’s plan to reorganize the federal government, Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, released in June (see COSSA’s analysis for details). The Center was described as a public-private partnership that would “engage researchers, academics, non-profits, and private industry from disciplines ranging from behavioral economics, to computer science, to design thinking to use creative, data-driven, and interdisciplinary approaches to re-imagine and realize new possibilities in how citizens and Government interact.”

The RFI is seeking recommendations and models to emulate related to the mission, structure, funding, and early focus areas for the new center, as well as information on how existing federal data resources can be used to support its work. A full list of questions is available here. Responses are requested by September 15, 2018.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

NSF Launches 2026 Idea Machine

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has launched the NSF 2026 Idea Machine. 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. According to the agency, the NSF 2026 Idea Machine is an opportunity to contribute to NSF’s mission, spur research that will cross traditional scientific boundaries, and address significant societal and scientific questions. Details about eligibility, timeline, and the judging process are available on the NSF website. Submissions of “Big Ideas” for the 2026 Idea Machine are due by October 26, 2018.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

White House to Appoint J. Scott Angle to Lead NIFA

On August 31, the White House announced that it intends to appoint Dr. J. Scott Angle to be Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Department of Agriculture’s main extramural research agency. Dr. Angle is a soil microbiologist who most recently was the President and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center and has held administrative positions at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia and University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dr. Angle would serve a six-year term, succeeding Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, whose term ended in May. As NIFA Director, Dr. Angle would be tasked with overseeing the agency’s move away from the National Capitol Region, which stakeholders are concerned could threaten the agency’s ability to operate effectively (see other article).

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

NSF Taps Karen Marrongelle to Lead Education and Human Resources Directorate

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced on August 21 that it has chosen Dr. Karen Marrongelle to lead the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate. Dr. Marrongelle has served as a professor of mathematics and statistics at Portland State University since 2001 and as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Science since 2014. Dr. Marrongelle holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and philosophy, a master’s degree in mathematics, and a doctorate in mathematics education.

Dr. Marrongelle will arrive at EHR with experience in the directorate, having worked as program director in the Division on Research and Learning from 2007 to 2009. EHR supports fundamental research in learning and teaching, and broad efforts to achieve excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Dr. Marrongelle will begin her appointment on October 1. The full press release can be read on the NSF website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

OHRP Releases Information on Clinical Trial Consent Form Posting, GDPR Guidance

As part of the revisions to the Common Rule (the set of regulations that govern research involving human participants) going into full effect in January 2019 (see COSSA’s coverage for more details), clinical trials covered by these regulations must publicly post copies of the consent forms used to enroll participants. The Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) has announced that these consent forms must be posted either on clinicaltrials.gov or to a docket folder on regulations.gov (docket ID: HHS-OPHS-2018-0021).

OHRP has also made available guidance related to the European General Data Protection Directive (GDPR) to assist stakeholders conducting human subjects research in the E.U. The compilation is available on the OHRP website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
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.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

White House Outlines FY 2020 R&D Budget Priorities

On July 31, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney, with Michael Kratsios, Deputy Assistant Secretary to the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued a joint memorandum to federal agency and department heads on “FY 2020 Administration Research and Development Priorities.” The R&D memo lays out key White House priorities as agencies begin working on their budget submissions for the next fiscal year.

The FY 2020 memo shares many priorities with the FY 2019 memo, including acknowledging the important role of science and technology to America’s global leadership and emphasizing national security, American energy dominance, and medical innovation as research and development priorities. The memo also adds new priorities including space exploration, artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, advanced communication networks, and agriculture. Specific science priorities for the Trump Administration in FY 2020 include research “to improve the security and resilience of the Nation and its critical infrastructure from natural hazards, physical threats, cyber-attacks, and emerging threats from autonomous systems and biological agents;” fundamental and applied artificial intelligence (AI) research; research to “safely and efficiently integrate autonomous driving systems and unmanned aircraft systems;” and basic medical research for personalized medicine, areas underserved by industry, disease prevention, and health promotion.”

Unlike the FY 2019 memo, the FY 2020 memo does not include specific language about federal funding for research and development playing a supporting role to that of industry. The memo does reiterate, however, the administration’s view that federal research and development dollars should be used primarily on basic and early-stage applied research.

Additional details can be found in the memorandum.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

Census Bureau Seeks Input on 2020 Data Products

In order to inform its plans for 2020 Census data products, the Census Bureau is soliciting feedback on how data products from prior decennial censuses (including summary and detailed tables, national and state demographic profiles, and topical briefs) have been used. According to the Federal Register notice, privacy concerns may lead the Bureau to reduce the amount of detailed data released to the public, so input on how to prioritize products for the 2020 Census is being sought. More information, including specific questions of interest to the Bureau and a spreadsheet containing a complete list of data products and tables, is available in the Federal Register. Comments must be submitted by September 17, 2018.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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

Subscribe

Click here to subscribe to the COSSA Washington Update, our biweekly newsletter.

Archive

Looking for something from a previous issue of the COSSA Washington Update? Try our archive.

Issues

Browse by Month