Executive Branch News

OSTP Releases Guidance for NSPM-33, Long Awaited Research Security Roadmap

On January 4, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced the publication of the implementation guidance for National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM)-33, the guidelines released in early 2021 intended to improve research security efforts at federal agencies (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). This long-awaited guidance, which was released as a report by OSTP’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE), aims to clarify requirements for federally funded researchers and set best practices at federal agencies to strengthen research security. The guidance offers direction on five major areas of…

NSF Announces Topics for 2022 Convergence Accelerator, Agency Seeking Feedback on Future Topics

On January 4, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the topics for the Convergence Accelerator for fiscal year (FY) 2022, applications for which are expected to open in the coming months. NSF’s Convergence Accelerator aims to promote research in areas of strategic and societal importance through a three-tiered process: ideation, and two convergence research phases. The tracks for FY 2022 are: Enhancing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Sustainable Materials for Global Challenges Food & Nutrition Security In addition, NSF has announced it is seeking community feedback for future Convergence Accelerator topics. On December 13, 2021, NSF released a Dear Colleague…

NSF Announces Partnership with WT Grant Foundation on Enhancing the Impact of Research about Youth

In December, the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) within the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a Dear Colleague Letter announcing a partnership with the William T. Grant Foundation to solicit research proposals on “Increasing the Use, Usefulness and Impact of Research about Youth.” Research topics may cover improving decision-makers’ use of research, making research more useful in policy creation and practice, and identifying when and how using research findings improves youth outcomes. Proposals may be submitted to either NSF or the WT Grant Foundation. More information is available in the Dear Colleague Letter. Additional research opportunities supported…

Larry Tabak Named Acting Director for NIH, Questions Remain Regarding Presidential Nomination

On December 9, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that Larry Tabak, current principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), would take leadership of NIH as acting director beginning on December 20. Current NIH director Francis Collins announced his intent to step down earlier this year after 15 years of service in the role as the agency’s director (see previous coverage for more details). Tabak has been a mainstay at NIH, serving as director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) for a decade prior to his naming as principal deputy…

GAO Report Cites Need for Better Police Use-of-Force Data

The Government Accountability Office has released a report assessing the release of data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) related to law enforcement use of force. Overall, the report finds that the Department has not been consistently publishing legally required data on excessive force and that DOJ can do a better job of sharing this information. The report makes note of delays in the release of data produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), an issue not limited to use-of-force data (COSSA has written several letters advocating for the timely release of BJS data).  The report recommends that BJS…

Census Seeking Comment on New “Ask U.S.” Opinion Panel

The Census Bureau is seeking approval for a new nationally representative survey panel called “Ask U.S.,” to be used for “tracking public opinion on a variety of topics of interest to numerous federal agencies and their partners, and for conducting experimentation on alternative question wording and methodological approaches” as well as potentially collecting “nationwide rapid-response data to address emerging data needs.” Public comment is being accepted on the new activity, which will also be coordinated with the Economic Research Service, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, among other…

NSF Announces Build and Broaden 3.0 Collaborations with Minority-Serving Institutions

The Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting applications for Build and Broaden 3.0, the latest iteration of the collaborative program aiming to support fundamental research and research collaborations at minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Updates on the Build and Broaden program were featured during the SBE Advisory Committee meeting on December 2, with NSF staff providing comments on previous fiscal year awards, updated eligibility criteria for the awards, outreach efforts to tribal-serving institutions, and the creation of a new Program Officer role for Build and Broaden 3.0. The target due date for Build…

NIH to Hold Series of Listening Sessions on UNITE Initiative and Racial Equity

Throughout the end of 2021 and early 2022, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be holding a series of listening sessions to gather stakeholder feedback on achieving racial equity as part of the agency’s UNITE Initiative. The UNITE Initiative, which was launched by NIH in March 2021, is intended to analyze and address the agency’s practices to better foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the biomedical research enterprise (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). A full list of the upcoming sessions and registration information is available here.

Cures 2.0 Bill Introduced in the House, Includes RISE Act and ARPA-H Authorization

On November 16, Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the Cures 2.0 Act, long anticipated legislation aiming to bolster the U.S. biomedical research enterprise. Most notably, the legislation would authorize $6.5 billion for an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a long-touted Biden Administration priority. Unlike the previously introduced Advanced Research Project Agency-Health (ARPA-H) Act (H.R. 5585) which authorizes $3 billion for an independent ARPA-H within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Cures 2.0 Act would establish ARPA-H within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (see previous coverage for more details). In addition to…

Applications Being Accepted for Federal Evaluation Fellowships

The Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) at the General Services Administration is currently accepting applications for 2022 fellowships. OES is a team of applied researchers that works to build insights from the social and behavioral sciences into federal programs. OES designs, implements, and analyzes evidence-based interventions and randomized evaluations. Fellows shape their own high-impact portfolio of work, design and direct projects, and author academic publications. For 2022, applications are being sought for Design Fellows (deadline December 10), Fellows (deadline January 3), and Federal Detailees (deadline January 3). More information about all three positions is available on the OES website.

NIH Holds Annual Behavioral and Social Science Research Festival

On November 18-19, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) held the 2021 Behavioral and Social Science Research Festival, an annual event designed to highlight the contributions of recently funded behavioral and social science projects to health research via presentations by extramural and NIH scientists from across the spectrum of disciplines. The two-day event was held virtually. The event hosted presentations on a variety of behavioral and social science topics, with heavy emphasis on health equity among minority populations, mental and cognitive health, and behavioral responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s festival…

Evidence Advisory Committee Recommends Establishment of a National Data Service

The Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building (ACDEB) released its first report on October 29. The Committee was created by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (“Evidence Act,” see previous coverage) and given two years to make recommendations for promoting evidence-building in the federal government, including evaluating the need for and value of a potential National Secure Data Service (NSDS) to facilitate linking data from across the federal government. The ACDEB report affirms the need for the establishment of a NSDS and outlines a broad vision for such a service as a “quasi- or non-governmental entity that is sponsored…

NIH to Host 2021 Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival

On November 18 and 19, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) will host the 2021 NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. The virtual festival brings together researchers from around NIH and will feature four plenary sessions. Among other presenters, Director of the National Institute on Nursing Research (NINR) Shannon N. Zenk will serve as a keynote presenter and outgoing OBSSR Director Bill Riley will deliver remarks on “the State of Behavioral and Social Science Research at the NIH.” Registration details and more information about the festival may be found on the…

Robert Santos Confirmed as Census Director

On November 4, the Senate voted 58-35 to confirm Robert Santos as the Director of the Census Bureau. Santos is currently the President of the American Statistical Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member. Upon his confirmation, Santos became the first person of color to lead the Census Bureau. Santos was nominated by President Biden in April to succeed Trump-appointee Steven Dillingham, who resigned in January after complaints from whistleblowers came to light (see previous coverage). Ron Jarmin has been Acting Director of the Bureau since Dillingham’s departure.

Census Bureau Seeking to Extend and Expand Business Pulse Survey

Building on the success of the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey, a continuous, frequently-updated survey instituted to measure the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, the Census Bureau is seeking public comment on a plan to establish a new Business Pulse Survey that will extend the existing survey sample to include all businesses. The Bureau is asking for three-year approval for the Business Pulse Survey, which will be a “continuous near real time data publication [that] will provide a baseline of the U.S. economy and will measure change as a result of current and future economic shocks.” While…

OSTP Launches “Challenge” for Advancing Equity in STEM

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has announced an open invitation for ideas to improve equity in science and technology. Input is being gathered through an “Ideation Challenge,” which allows anyone to offer insight into the central question, “How can we guarantee all Americans can fully participate in, and contribute to, science and technology?” While there is no winner or prize, ideas will be evaluated and refined by OSTP for potential incorporation into the White House’s strategy for advancing equity in science and technology. The challenge is open through November 19. More information is available on…

White House Releases 2021 Data Strategy Action Plan

The Federal Data Strategy, a government-wide plan to coordinate and accelerate the use of data in federal policymaking (see previous coverage), released its 2021 Action Plan in October. The plan lays out a set of aspirational milestones for data governance, planning, and infrastructure across federal agencies. Acknowledging the late-in-the-year release and the context of a presidential transition year, the document recognizes that agencies “may only begin” working towards the targets described in the plan by the end of the year. The Action Plan describes successes and lessons learned in 2020 and sets out a set of 11 actions for 2021,…

PCAST Holds Meeting on Climate Change, Energy, and the Environment

On October 18 and 19, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) held a public meeting focusing on climate, energy, and the environment, just weeks after the first PCAST meeting of the Biden Administration was held (see previous coverage).  The meeting consisted of several presentations on various aspects of climate and energy policy including the current state of climate policy and research, the Biden Administration’s positions on climate policy, previous Federal activities addressing climate, the development of new climate and energy technologies, and the impact of climate change on national security. Speakers throughout the sessions highlighted the…

Bill Riley to Retire as Director of NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

On September 30, William T. Riley, Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Science Research (BSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), announced his retirement from NIH at the end of December 2021. OBSSR Deputy Director Christine Hunter will take over as Acting Director position until a permanent replacement is named. Riley, who has led BSSR efforts at NIH for the past seven years, has been a tremendous proponent of the social and behavioral sciences through his previous roles at NIH including in the National Cancer Institute (NCI),…

Biden’s PCAST Holds First Meeting

Just days after members were named to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) (see previous coverage), the Council held its first meeting on September 28 and 29. The first meeting featured speakers who focused on two broad themes: (1) Strengthening US Science & Technology Global Leadership for the 21st Century and (2) The State of US Preparedness & Public Health as Revealed by the Pandemic. During discussions of US public health preparedness, both PCAST members and presenters alike emphasized the need for research in social and behavioral sciences to better shape how we respond to future…

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