Issue 13 (July 14)
In this issue…
Congressional Activities & News
- FY 2015 Spending Bills May Wait for the Lame Duck
- Senate Democrats and House Republicans Begin Higher Ed Act Reauthorization
Federal Agency & Administration Activities & News
- Nominations Sought for 2015 Vannevar Bush and Public Service Awards
- FDA Seeks Comments on its Strategic Priorities, 2014-2018
Notable Publications & Community Events
- NRC Releases Furthering America’s Research Enterprise Report
- NDD United Addresses Continued Threats to Discretionary Spending
- AAAS Seeks Nominations for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award
COSSA Member Activities
- Importance of Statistics Highlighted by ASA White Papers and International Year of Statistics Workshop Report
COSSA Action & Outreach
As the Congressional August recess approaches in just a few weeks, it has become all but certain that a continuing resolution (CR) will be enacted to push work on the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills to after the November midterm elections. The House and Senate are likely to be consumed with the President’s proposals for supplemental funding to address the migrant child crisis and wildfires out west during the scant remaining summer workdays, leaving little time to advance any of the FY 2015 spending measures before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Despite Senate leadership’s promise to dedicate two weeks in July for debate on the appropriations bills, the bills are not included on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “to do list” for the balance of the month. While neither chamber has acknowledged a CR publicly, we are likely to see one passed that will place the appropriations bills on hold until after the elections to allow enough time for Members to head home for a final stretch of campaigning.
On June 26, House Republicans announced three new bills in what they are calling their “piecemeal” approach to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), last reauthorized in 2008. Since the last COSSA Washington Update, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a full discussion draft outlining his vision for reauthorization. Public comment on the Senate draft is being accepted until August 29.
The National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that also advises the President on science policy, has issued a solicitation of nominations for its 2015 honorary awards. The NSB honors outstanding research leaders annually through its Vannevar Bush Award and Public Service Award. Nominations for the 2015 awards are due by October 1, 2014.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with “protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; ensuring the safety of foods, cosmetics, and radiation-emitting products; and regulating tobacco products.” Every four years, the FDA updates its Strategic Priorities document, which outlines the agency’s strategic intentions and plans for the years ahead. The agency is currently seeking comments to help it refine its Strategic Priorities FY 2014-2018.
On June 27, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies released its report, Furthering America’s Research Enterprise. The report, which was originally called for in the America COMPETES Act of 2011, is the culmination of work by a Committee on Assessing the Value of Research in Advancing National Goals. Language in the America COMPETES Act called on the National Science Foundation (NSF) to contract with the National Academies on a study to “develop improved impact-on-society metrics” for federal investment in research and development. The Committee decided to broaden the study to also look at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and other federal agencies.
On July 8, NDD United, a coalition of a wide variety of groups and stakeholders interested in protecting nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending from budget cuts, held a town hall meeting to discuss continuing threats and the potential for further cuts to discretionary spending. Among the threats, NDD United emphasized (1) the continuation of flat funding for NDD spending, and (2) the possibility of a new constitutional convention that could lead to a balanced budget amendment.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is seeking nominations for its annual Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. The award honors scientists and individuals who have “acted to protect the public’s health, safety, or welfare; or focused public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or established important new precedents in carrying out the social responsibilities or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.”
Nominations are due by September 1, 2014.
Importance of Statistics Highlighted by ASA White Papers and International Year of Statistics Workshop Report
The American Statistical Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member, has released three white papers detailing how statistics can contribute to the Administration’s research initiatives and priorities, particularly those of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The white papers focus on the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, the Big Data Research and Development Initiative, and climate change. In an overview of the white papers, ASA Director of Science Policy Steve Pierson observed that the papers share several common themes:
On July 9, COSSA joined with a number of its member associations and sister coalitions on a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee expressing concern with the House-passed Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366), which is legislation to reauthorize the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the Department of Education. As currently written, the bill would “diminish the autonomy, authority, and stature of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)” within IES. The letter urges the Senate to amend the bill “to ensure that NCES data and statistics are objective, independent, and relevant to education policy discussions and that NCES remains a leading part of the U.S. federal statistical system.”