Issue 11 (May 30)
COSSA in Action
- The American Academy of Arts & Sciences Answers “Why Social Science?”
- COSSA Joins Scientific Societies in Raising Concerns with Visa Changes
- House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Overhead Costs of Research
- House Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Oversight Hearing on Advances in Biomedical Research
Federal Agency & Administration News
- EPA Advisory Board Accepting Nominations
- Library of Congress Releases Digital Records to Public and Researchers
Publications & Community Events
The Trump Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget request on May 23. The budget seeks dramatic reductions totaling $3.6 trillion across nearly every department of the federal government, including most science and research agencies. COSSA has prepared an in-depth analysis of the FY 2018 budget request, which includes details on the President’s proposals for the dozens of departments, agencies, and programs of interest to social and behavioral science researchers.
The release of the President’s budget request marks the official start of the FY 2018 appropriations process, though some Congressional committees have already begun holding their oversight hearings even without a budget in front of them. It is important to remember that the President’s budget is just one step in the annual appropriations process. Congress still holds the power of the purse. As always, COSSA will report on ongoing developments in the FY 2018 appropriations process in the COSSA Washington Update.
This week’s Why Social Science? guest post comes from John Tessitore, Senior Program Advisor at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, who writes about how findings from the social sciences helped inform the Academy’s recent report, “America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education in the 21st Century.” Read it here and subscribe.
COSSA joined 54 scientific societies on a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the Department of State raising concerns about the proposed supplemental questions for visa applicants. The letter discusses the community’s concerns about a possible chilling effect on international travelers to the United States, which would negatively impact U.S. higher education and scientific collaborations. The signatories also raise concerns about the lack of clarity on which visa applicants would be affected, that social media information would be collected, and that the burden of this proposed change would be carried by already vulnerable populations.
COSSA joined dozens of scientific societies and research universities on a letter to Congressional leaders, sent on May 24, urging them to reject the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to science agencies including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, and more.
Similarly, in a Dear Colleague letter sent to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, 29 Senators expressed their support for the National Science Foundation. The letter calls for the National Science Foundation to receive at least $8 billion in fiscal year 2018 to help ensure the U.S. will remain a world economic leader.
The Subcommittee on Research and Technology and the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology co-hosted a hearing on the overhead costs of research on May 24. The focus of the hearing was the indirect costs incurred from research, reimbursed by the government as part of research grant awards. The subcommittees primarily discussed the indirect costs from awards made by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Witnesses included Dale Bell from the Division of Institution and Award Support at NSF; John Newmann of the Government Accountability Office; James Luther, Vice President for Finance and Compliance at Duke University; and Richard Vedder, Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
Committee members expressed concern about the rising proportion of federal funds going to reimburse indirect costs, which include administrative and facilities costs. Members also expressed concern that the process for negotiating indirect cost rates is becoming more complicated, benefitting larger and wealthier research institutions.
No consensus on how to address the rising proportion of indirect costs emerged. While some members suggested that indirect costs should be taken into consideration when NSF decides to award a grant, others focused on how NSF can continue to fund quality research despite the rising indirect costs.
This hearing represented a continuation of discussions from the 114th Congress about the administrative burden on federally funded researchers, which Research and Development Subcommittee leadership expressed interest in continuing. Witness testimony and an archived webcast of the hearing is available on the Science Committee website.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) is accepting nominations for new members. The BOSC advises the EPA’s Office of Research and Development on technical and management issues related to its research programs: Air, Climate, and Energy; Chemical Safety for Sustainability; Human Health Risk Assessment; Homeland Security; Safe and Sustainable Water Resources; and Sustainable and Healthy Communities. EPA is seeking nominees with expertise in the following fields (among others): climate/global change, public health, exposure science, risk assessment, sustainability, science policy, program evaluation, social science, behavioral science, and decision science. Nominations are due by June 30, 2017. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.
The U.S. Library of Congress recently announced that it is making the largest release of records (25 million) in the library’s history accessible online through free bulk downloads and on data.gov. The Library is the main research body for the U.S. Congress and home of the U.S. Copyright Office. The new dataset comprises more than 45 years (1968-2014) of information, including books, serials, computer files, manuscripts, maps, music, and visual materials. The records, until now, have only been available through a paid subscription or on an individual basis. Announcing the data’s availability, the Library notes that “the rich data included in these records can be used for a wide range of cultural, historical and literary research.”
- American Evaluation Association Summer Institute: Finding Your Pathway in Evaluation, June 4-7, 2017, Atlanta, GA
- Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: A Public Workshop, June 8-9, 2017, Washington, DC
- Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, June 20-23, 2017, Mexico City, Mexico
- Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Annual Meeting, June 23-25, 2017, Albuquerque, NM
- Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, July 27-30, 2017, Columbus, OH
- Joint Statistical Meetings, July 28-August 3, 2017, Baltimore, MD
On May 17, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) held an oversight hearing to discuss the advances in biomedical research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH Director Francis Collins was accompanied by Institute directors Anthony Fauci (Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Gary Gibbons (Heart, Lung, and Blood), Joshua Gordon (Mental Health), Doug Lowy (Cancer), and Nora Volkow (Drug Abuse).
Welcoming the agency before the Subcommittee, Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) noted that “investment in NIH has been the key driver in making the United States the world leader of biomedical research and has led to vast improvements in life expectancy and quality of life.” Rep. Cole expressed pride in increasing NIH’s funding by $2 billion both in FY 2017 and FY 2016. He also expressed disappointment with the Administration’s proposed cuts to NIH’s budget in FY 2018. Specifically, Rep. Cole noted he fears that the proposed cuts would “stall the progress” that Congress’ recent “investments were intended to achieve and potentially discourage promising scientists from entering or remaining in biomedical research.”
Questions from Subcommittee members covered a wide range of topics, including indirect costs, early stage investigators, the Institutional Development Award, minority health and health disparities, the opioid epidemic, the Grant Support Index (GSI), the ECHO study, international competition, public health preparedness, e-cigarettes, and the impact of the hiring freeze and a “good government shut down.” (more…)
- AHRQ: National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) (RFA-HS-17-011)\
- NIA: Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (P30) (RFA-AG-18-007)
- NIA: NIA Academic Leadership Career Award (K07) (PAR-17-287)
- NIA: NIA MSTEM: Advancing Diversity in Aging Research through Undergraduate Education (R25) (PAR-17-290)
- NIH: Addressing Suicide Research Gaps: Understanding Mortality Outcomes (R01) (RFA-MH-18-410) [NIMH, NCCIH, NIDA, NIMHD]
- NCI: U.S. Tobacco Control Policies to Reduce Health Disparities (R01) (PAR-17-217), (R21) (PAR-17-218)
- NCI: Leveraging Population-based Cancer Registry Data to Study Health Disparities (R21) (PA-17-288), (R01) (PA-17-289)
- NIAAA: Specialized Alcohol Research Centers (P50) (RFA-AA-18-001)
- NCCIH: Behavioral Interventions for Prevention of Opioid Use Disorder or Adjunct to Medication Assisted Treatment-SAMHSA Opioid STR Grants (R21/R33) (RFA-AT-18-001)
- OBSSR/NIDDK: Psychological, Behavioral, and Neurocognitive-Focused Ancillary Studies to the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans Consortium (MoTrPAC) (U01) (RFA-DK-17-009)
- NIH: Addressing Suicide Research Gaps: Aggregating and Mining Existing Data Sets for Secondary Analyses (R01) (RFA-MH-18-400) [OBSSR, NIMH, NCCIH, NIAAA, NIDA]
- NHLBI: Catalyzing Innovation in Late Phase Clinical Trial Design and Statistical Analysis Plans Resource Access (X01) (PAR-17-294)