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Federal Research Agencies Release Guidance on OMB’s Administrative Flexibility Changes

In response to a June 18 memo (M 20-26) issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) extending certain administrative flexibilities to federal grant recipients as relief for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, federal research agencies have released guidance statements clarifying the memo’s implications for recipients of research grants. On June 25, both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) released nearly identical sets of guidance in response to the OMB memo explaining how the changes to the flexibilities will specifically affect recipients of their grants. The flexibilities include an allowance to continue…

White House Issues Ban on Entry of Skilled Foreign Workers

On June 22, President Trump issued a proclamation further extending restrictions on foreign travel to the United States in order to reduce the competitiveness of the U.S. labor market. The proclamation argues that due to the economic downturn and resulting unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic, foreign workers “pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.” The proclamation prohibits the entry of foreign workers under several visa categories commonly used by science and academic institutions to hire employees with unique skills and specialized training, including H-1B and H-4 visas, for skilled workers and their spouses respectively; J-1 visas,…

Message from COSSA on Police Violence and Racial Injustice

We stand in solidarity with those protesting against the abuses of police power and the racist systems that perpetuate this violence. One of the fundamental lessons from the social sciences is that our lives are governed by social systems that were designed to bestow advantages and disadvantages unequally. While the social sciences have helped to illuminate those structures and the inequities and harms they create, the science community has failed to effectively address them within the scientific enterprise itself. While we cannot undo the horrific injustices of the past, we are committed to eradicating the scourge of white supremacy—both within…

Recordings of COVID-19-Related COSSA Headlines Webinars Now Available

In recognition of the severity of the current coronavirus crisis, COSSA has elected to make recordings of its members-only Headlines webinars related to the pandemic available immediately, rather than waiting an additional month to release the recordings to non-members. Check out the Headlines page on the COSSA website for links to previous recordings, including our most recent deep dive discussion with University of Florida epidemiologist Natalie Dean, who called for social scientists to weigh in on critical questions such as how best to facilitate contact tracing and providing insight into factors that could affect the public’s reaction to a potential…

Census Releases First COVID-19 Household Data

The Census Bureau has released the first data from its new COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey, which asks over 50,000 Americans about their employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption during the coronavirus pandemic (see previous coverage). The data, which covers April 23-May 5, was released as tables and through an interactive dashboard. More information about the survey is available on the Census Bureau website. Data will continue to be released on a weekly basis throughout the survey’s 90-day duration. In addition, the Census Bureau has released data on the…

National Academies Holds Webinar on COVID-19 and Extreme Environmental Events

The National Academies Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Environmental Change and Society and Resilient America Roundtable convened a webinar on May 13 to discuss the social science aspects of potential emergencies that compound the current COVID-19 crisis with environmental hazards, such as fires, hurricanes, flooding, and heatwaves. The event featured experts from federal government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as universities, and nonprofit and community organizations. Panelists discussed the challenges of responding to emergencies and natural disasters amidst a pandemic and the need for social…

New Proposal Would Rename NSF, Create New Technology Directorate

On May 21, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Endless Frontier Act (S. 3832). A counterpart bill (H.R. 6978) was also introduced in the House by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI). The legislation proposes the establishment of a new Technology Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which would be renamed the National Science and Technology Foundation (NSTF). While housed within NSF/NSTF, a basic science agency, the overarching goal of the legislation is to infuse funding—$100 billion over five years—specifically for research and development in 10 technology areas of global strategic significance. The 10…

COSSA Advocates Tell Congress to Use Social Science to Fight COVID-19

On April 28, about 40 social and behavioral scientists and stakeholders participated in COSSA’s sixth annual Social Science Advocacy Day, meeting virtually with Members of Congress and their staff about the many ways social and behavioral science is helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocates representing 16 states participated, holding 58 individual meeting with Congressional offices. Materials used to help explain the unique contributions the social and behavioral sciences make to fighting COVID-19 and to address other pressing national issues are available on COSSA’s Advocacy Resources page. You can help amplify this message by responding to COSSA’s Action Alert on social science and…

Congress Remains Focused on COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, Congress continues to prioritize attention to combatting the disease and addressing the resulting economic repercussions. As lawmakers argue about the contents of another supplemental appropriations bill, a pair of Dear Colleague Letters (DCL) have been circulated in the House and Senate in support of $26 billion for federal research agencies in the next COVID-19 package. The House letter, sponsored by Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI), garnered 178 signatories and the Senate letter, sponsored by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), had 33 signatories. The timeline for future supplemental bills is still unclear….

NSF, National Academies Launch Network to Connect Social Scientists to COVID-19 Policymakers

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have formed the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) to connect social and behavioral science researchers with decision-makers who are leading the response to COVID-19. SEAN will respond to the most pressing social, behavioral, and economic questions that are being asked by federal, state, and local officials by working with appropriate experts to quickly provide actionable answers. The network will be overseen by NASEM’s Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats and an executive committee co-chaired by Robert Groves of Georgetown University…

Golden Goose Award Seeks Nominations Related to COVID-19 Research

The Golden Goose Award, which typically recognizes federally funded research that may initially sound odd, obscure, or serendipitous, but ends up having a major impact on society, is planning to use its 2020 Awards to highlight federally funded research that has had a significant and demonstrable impact in responding to COVID-19. More information on nomination criteria is available on the Golden Goose website. The deadline for nominations is May 22, 2020. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Advocates Working to Promote Social Science Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Today, about 40 social and behavioral scientists and other stakeholders are participating in COSSA’s 6th Annual Social Science Advocacy Day, meeting virtually with Members of Congress and their staff about the many ways social and behavioral science is helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow our advocates’ efforts on Twitter by following @COSSADC and using the hashtag #whysocialsciencev. Others can get in on the action by responding to COSSA’s newest action alert. Visit COSSA’s Take Action page to tell Congress that the social sciences stand ready and willing to help the United States recover from this crisis. In addition, COSSA…

Senate Returns Next Week with Uncertain Agenda; House Staying Home

While the Senate is planning to return to in-person work in Washington, DC on May 4, the House abruptly changed course and, upon recommendation from the House physician, will not be reconvening next week. No timeline has been set for the House’s return. While working mostly remotely, the House and Senate passed its fourth supplemental appropriations bill on April 24 related to the crisis. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266) provides additional funding for small business loans, additional support for health care providers, and funding for additional COVID-19 testing. There is much speculation surrounding the…

Census Launches COVID-19 Household Survey

The Census Bureau has applied for and received emergency authorization from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a new household survey to collect information about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on American families. The COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey will ask individuals about their employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption during the coronavirus pandemic. The survey was developed with input from agencies across the federal statistical system, including the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the National Center…

Congress Split on Content, Timing of Next Supplemental

Congress left town in late March upon passage of its third COVID-19 supplemental appropriations bill (see COSSA’s coverage) with no set timeline for return. Many are still speculating about what a fourth coronavirus supplemental bill might contain. Republicans are interested in a package focused on relief for small businesses and an infusion of cash for the Small Business Administration, while Democrats are seeking additional resources for hospitals, food stamp benefits, testing, and protective gear for frontline workers. The research and higher education communities, too, have been developing proposals for Congressional consideration. On April 7, four higher education associations sent a…

Census Bureau to Add COVID-19 Questions to Business Surveys, Request Additional Time for Decennial

The Census Bureau has been granted emergency authorization from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to add questions related to COVID-19 to its business surveys. Questions to measure the impact of the pandemic will be added to five surveys: the Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories & Orders (M3) Survey; the Building Permits Survey; the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey; the Monthly Retail Surveys; and the Quarterly Services Survey. The Census Bureau will be asking businesses whether they have temporarily closed any locations for at least one day, whether they experienced delays in their supply chains or product shipments, and whether…

National Academies Begins Series of Virtual Discussions on the Research Community’s Responses to COVID-19

On April 9, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) hosted the first event in a new virtual series discussing post-secondary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion series, which will take place over the course of several weeks, will bring together leaders from academia, industry, government, and civil society to address new developments in COVID-19 responses in different sectors of the research community. Each virtual event will touch on a specific topic on how researchers and their institutions can help support public health efforts. The April 9 event, which focused…

COSSA Compiles Social Science Resources Related to COVID-19

COSSA is compiling a list of resources for social scientists and stakeholders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The list includes guidance from federal science agencies, collections of publicly available peer-reviewed research related to the crisis, resources from COSSA member associations, and more. It will be updated frequently; if you would like to share resources for inclusion, please contact us. There are a number of new databases for researchers wishing to amplify their work that may have relevance to the current crisis, including the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, supported by the Allen Institute for AI, and a grassroots effort on GitHub…

COSSA’s Analysis of Enacted COVID-19 Supplemental Funding Legislation, FY 2020

Over the past month, Congress has passed three large stimulus bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, the three bills comprise the largest economic stimulus package in American history and touch nearly all aspects of American life, including scientific research, support for key economic sectors and small businesses, direct financial support to Americans, and boosts to social safety net programs. All three bills enacted in response to the crisis, so far, have been supplemental appropriations bills, meaning they provide funds to federal agencies and programs in addition to what has already been appropriated for the current fiscal year (FY…

Census Bureau Temporarily Suspends 2020 Field Operations, In-Person Survey Interviews

The Census Bureau has announced further adjustments to its planned 2020 decennial census operations in response to the coronavirus epidemic (see previous coverage). On March 18, Census Director Steven Dillingham announced a two-week suspension of 2020 field operations. In addition, the Bureau’s two major facilities in Jeffersonville, IN, the National Processing Center and Paper Data Capture Center East, have dramatically reduced on-site staff to the minimum necessary to continue operations. These measures were further extended by an additional two weeks, through April 15, and could be extended even longer in accordance with public health guidelines. In addition, the Census Bureau…

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