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NSF Releases Dear Colleague Letter on Research Protection

The Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter on July 11 summarizing efforts at the agency to address security risks to the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. The letter explains that while international collaboration is still a priority of NSF, they are instituting policies to ensure NSF research is protected from foreign interference and other security threats.

The letter outlines some upcoming and proposed policy changes related to research security. The imminent plans include changes to the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide to include clarifications of reporting requirements for support from NSF, both current and pending, as well as professional appointments. The draft Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide is currently open for comment in the Federal Register. Additionally, the agency is issuing a policy clarifying that NSF personnel and detailees working at the agency through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (or IPAs) cannot participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs.

The letter also includes a proposal, likely to take effect in January 2020, requiring grantees to use an electronic format for submission of biographical sketches, including disclosure of all appointments.

Lastly, NSF has commissioned the independent scientific advisory group JASON to conduct a study to assess risks and recommend possible practices for NSF and its awardee organizations to achieve the best balance between openness and security of science. More information and the Dear Colleague Letter can be found on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 23), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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)

Administration Releases Updated Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Plan

On June 21, the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released a 2019 update to its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development Plan. The first national AI R&D plan was released in 2016 and has been updated to include strategic priorities and accounts for new research and technologies in AI. The new strategic priorities include: making long-term investments in AI research; developing effective methods for human-AI collaboration; understanding and addressing the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI; ensuring the safety and security of AI systems; developing shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing; and expanding public-private partnerships to accelerate advances in AI; among others.

Artificial Intelligence is a priority of the Trump Administration and several federal research agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), have incorporated and highlighted AI research and development at their agencies. More about the NIH AI initiatives can be found on the NIH website and more about the NSF AI initiatives can be found on the NSF website.

More information about the Trump Administration’s effort on AI can be found on the White House website.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 25), 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)

House Panel Approves FY 2020 Funding for NSF, Census, BJS, and NIJ

On May 22, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill; the CJS Subcommittee advanced the bill on May 17. This bill contains annual funding proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Census Bureau, among other federal departments and agencies. Overall, the House bill is favorable to agencies important to the COSSA community, with increases proposed across the bill’s jurisdiction.

At a glance…

  • The House CJS bill includes $8.6 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 2020, which, if appropriated, would be a significant increase of more than $561 million or 7 percent over FY 2019.
  • The House bill would provide the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) with $37 million and $43 million, respectively. This would represent flat funding for NIJ and BJS compared to their FY 2019 funding levels.
  • The House’s proposal would provide the Census Bureau with a total of $8.45 billion for FY 2020, which is $2.3 billion above the amount requested by the Administration and in line with the amount sought by the Census stakeholder community.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the House Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Census Bureau.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 28), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Submits FY 2020 Testimony to Senate Appropriations Committee in Support of Social Science Funding for NSF, Census, NIJ, and BJS

As it does each year, COSSA submitted outside witness testimony to the Congressional Appropriations subcommittees responsible for funding federal agencies important to the social sciences. COSSA submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies calling for increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the Census Bureau in fiscal year (FY) 2020. All of COSSA’s FY 2020 testimony is posted on the COSSA website.

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

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on NSF Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request

On May 8, the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to discuss the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Witnesses included NSF Director Dr. France Córdova and National Science Board Chair Dr. Diane Souvaine.

Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) presided over the hearing and used her opening statement to highlight the accomplishments of NSF and its important role as the only federal agency that supports basic research across all disciplines of science. She also drew attention to the fact that NSF serves as the primary source of federal research funds for some disciplines, including social science. Stevens further expressed appreciation for NSF’s commitment to the Ten Big Ideas Initiative but noted concern about the balance between supporting the Big Ideas and NSF’s core research portfolio.

Drs. Córdova and Souvaine highlighted the Ten Big Ideas and the importance of convergent research in their testimony. Additional topics discussed by members of the subcommittee and NSF leadership included social and behavioral dimensions of artificial intelligence research, preventing sexual harassment in science, and effective partnerships with the private sector.

Unlike in NSF budget hearings of the past few years, Republicans and Democrats joined together to applaud NSF’s support of basic research and to raise concern about the Administration’s proposal to decrease the NSF’s budget by nearly a billion dollars. The full hearing can be viewed on the Committee’s website.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), 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)

NSF Seeks Nominations for Advisory Committees

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued its annual call for recommendations for membership to its various advisory committees and technical boards. These committees advise NSF’s offices and directorates on program management, research direction, and policies impacting the agency.  Committees of particular interest to the COSSA community include the Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences and the Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources. Guidelines for recommendations and committee contact information can be found here. Recommendations for membership are maintained for 12 months.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 30), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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