Issue 15 (August 11)


COSSA Washington Update, Volume 33 Issue 15

In this issue

Featured Article

Congressional Activities & News

Federal Agency & Administration Activities & News

Notable Publications & Community Events

Funding Opportunities

COSSA Member Activities

COSSA Action & Outreach

View the archived email.

Analysis of FY 2015 Senate Labor-HHS Bill

In late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of its fiscal year (FY) 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill. This is the annual spending bill that provides funding to the National Institutes of Health and other HHS agencies, the Department of Education, and the Department of Labor, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As previously reported, the bill was approved by the Labor-HHS Subcommittee in June, but action has since stalled. It is unclear if or when the full Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the bill.

COSSA’s full analysis of the Senate bill is available here.

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Uncertain Outlook for Completion of FY 2015 Spending Bills

The House and Senate have headed home for their five-week August recess. As previously reported, work on the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills stalled out earlier in the summer when Senate Democrats and Republicans could not come to agreement on a process for considering amendments. Senate Democrats have mentioned their interest in attempting an omnibus appropriations package when they return this fall. However, on the House side, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has confirmed that the House will consider a continuing resolution (CR) upon return in September to keep the federal government operating into FY 2015, which begins on October 1. The CR could last until December, thereby bumping the appropriations process into the lame duck session following the November midterm elections. (more…)

America COMPETES Reauthorization Bill Introduced in Senate

On July 31, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2757). Original co-sponsors include Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Edward Markey (D-MA). (more…)

Senate Appropriations Proposes Small Increase for NEH

On August 1, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the draft bill and committee report for fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which includes the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The bill would give NEH a $4 million increase, bringing its FY 2015 appropriation to $150 million. The committee report directs the agency to use some of the additional funds to “expand its new, agency-wide special initiative for veterans and active military and their families, Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War.” The President’s budget request called for maintaining NEH’s FY 2014 level of $146 million, as did the House version of the bill, after the elimination of a proposed $8 million cut.

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White House Issues Annual S&T Guidance for FY 2016 Budget

On July 18, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued their joint annual memorandum to federal agencies outlining “Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2016 Budget.” Each year, OMB and OSTP outline specific White House S&T priorities for federal investment, which is meant to inform federal agencies’ development of the fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget submission to Congress. Similar to past memoranda, the FY 2016 guidance asks federal agencies to allocate resources to a number of multi-agency research activities, including advanced manufacturing, clean energy, earth observations, global climate change, information technology and high-performance computing, neuroscience, national and homeland security, and R&D for informed policy-making and management. The guidance further asks agencies to “identify and pursue clearly defined ‘Grand Challenges’—ambitious goals that require advances in science, technology and innovation to achieve—and to support high-risk, high-return research.” Investment in STEM education also remains a high priority.

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White House Seeks Input on Strategy for American Innovation

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Economic Council (NEC) are seeking input into a forthcoming update of the Strategy for American Innovation (SAI). SAI is intended to guide the Administration’s efforts to promote lasting economic growth and competitiveness via polices that “support transformative American innovation in products, processes, and services and spur new fundamental discoveries that in the long run lead to growing prosperity and rising living standards.” The efforts include policies that promote “critical components of the American innovation ecosystem,” including scientific research and development and the technical workforce, among others. The input provided will inform the deliberations of the OSTP and NEC. Reponses are due September 23, 2014. For more information see the Federal Register notice.

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NIH Seeks Next Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking applications for the position of director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). The OBSSR director provides advice and staff support to the NIH Director and the director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives Associate (DPCPSI). A dual reporting position, the OBSSR director also functions as the NIH Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, serving in a trans-NIH capacity as the NIH focal point for establishing agency-wide policies and goals in behavioral and social sciences research, including coordinating the activities undertaken in the performance of this research. (more…)

NIH Seeks Next Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is searching for the next director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The director provides leadership and direction to the Institute and advises the NIH Director and institute and center (IC) directors on the development of NIH-wide policy issues related to minority health disparities research, research on other health disparities, and related research training and serves as principal liaison with other agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services and federal government. (more…)

The CTSA Program at NIH: The NCATS Advisory Council Working Group Response to the IOM Report

Earlier this summer, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Working Group on the IOM (Institute of Medicine) released its report, The CTSA [Clinical and Translational Science Awards] Program at NIH. The report is the Working Group’s response to the recommendations in an IOM report regarding the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) CTSA Program. The response included the Working Group’s acknowledgement that the CTSA program is key to the goal of “accelerating the process of transforming discovery into application and to increase the rate of adoption.” The CTSA program supports a national consortium of medical research institutes working together to improve the way that clinical and translational science is conducted. (more…)

William Sabol Named Acting NIJ Director

National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Acting Director Gregory K. Ridgeway left the agency on July 31 for the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Criminology. William Sabol, acting director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), was named this month to also serve as acting NIJ director until a permanent director is named by President Obama. You can learn more about the NIJ directorship here.

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ERS Presents on Local Impacts of Oil and Natural Gas Production

Although the expansion in production of shale-derived natural gas over the past decade or so has reshaped the U.S. energy landscape, until recently, the primary source of data on oil and natural gas production stopped at the state level. For researchers interested in the impacts of these shifts in energy production at the local level, this left the picture murky. However, a data set released this spring by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) provides more granular data: County-level Oil and Gas Production in the U.S.Jeremy Weber, a research economist in ERS’ Resource and Rural Economics Division, gave a presentation on some of the findings that have emerged from the new data during a briefing sponsored by the Council on Food, Agriculture, & Resource Economics (C-FARE) and the USDA Economists Group, entitled “Oil and Gas Development in the U.S.: Data and Recent Research on Local Consequences” (webcast available here). (more…)

AAAS Seeks Nominations for 2014 Abelson Prize

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is inviting nominations for the 2014 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize. Established in 1985, the prize is awarded annually to an individual who has “made signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States either as (1) a public servant, in recognition of sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science, or (2) a scientist, whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement and for other notable services to the scientific community.”

The 2014 Abelson Prize will be presented at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA in February 2015. Nominations are due September 1.

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Berkeley Law & Microsoft Seek Proposals to Study “Open Data” Issues

The Berkeley Center for Law and Technology and Microsoft have jointly issued a request for proposals (RFP) for projects studying the “civil rights, human rights, security and privacy issues that arise from recent initiatives to release large datasets of government information to the public for analysis and reuse.” The RFP, Exploring the Implications of Government Release of Large Datasets, seeks to fund up to six projects totaling $300,000. Scientific papers stemming from this support will be the focus of the 2015 Berkeley Journal for Law and Technology Symposium. The RFP explicitly encourages interdisciplinary approaches and was designed to be broad enough to encompass many different disciplines, including law, computer science, economics, and statistics. Proposals are due September 25.

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NIH: Enhancing Cross-National Research within the HRS Family of Studies

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Funding Opportunity Announcement, Enhancing Cross-National Research within the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) Family of Studies(RFA-AG-15-015), designed to enhance the comparability among the NIA-supported HRS and the family of comparable longitudinal aging studies around the world to support cross-national behavioral and social science research in aging in high priority areas. (more…)

NIH: IDeA Program Infrastructure for Clinical Translational Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program in 1993 to enhance biomedical research in states that have had historically low NIH grant funding success rates. The program currently supports competitive research in 23 states and Puerto Rico through the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) and IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) initiatives. (more…)

GeoHumanities, New AAG Journal, Seeks Editorial Team

The American Association of Geographers (AAG), a COSSA member, has put out a call for applications and nominations for an editorial team to helm their new journal, GeoHumanities. The team should be comprised of one representative from geography and one representative from a humanities discipline. They will be appointed to a four-year term beginning in December 2014. The new journal will “draw on and further explore the multifaceted scholarly conversations between geography and the humanities that have been evolving over the past decade.” It will “serve as a home for the critical and creative interdisciplinary work of artists, authors, historians, geographers, literary and feminist theorists, environmentalists, philosophers and others working across a broad spectrum of disciplines, and at scales from the personal and local to the international and global.”

Nominations and applications should be submitted by Friday, August 15, 2014. Click here for more information and instructions.

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COSSA Members Advocate for Disabilities Treaty Ratification

In late July, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12-6 to move the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on to the full Senate for ratification. The scientific community is mobilizing in support of the Convention, which, among other things, affirms states’ responsibilities to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to pursue and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. COSSA endorsed a statement by the AAAS Board of Directors in support of ratification. In addition, several COSSA members are also urging the Senate to ratify the treaty:

The American Statistical Association (ASA) released a statement calling on the Senate to ratify the Convention:

“ASA supports the people with disabilities who engage in the profession or practice of statistics and the study of disability as a topic of research. Through activities of promoting the education of statistics in schools, increasing the public awareness of statistics, and supporting the use of statistics in making sound public policy, the ASA seeks to help make education, employment, and other opportunities available to all people regardless of disability status.”

The Council of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) adopted a resolution urging the Senate to ratify the treaty:

The resolution reflects AERA’s “longstanding commitment to access of persons with disabilities in the field of education research, in other scientific fields, and in education across the life span.”

The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) adopted a statement in support of ratification:

“As an organization that studies all human languages and advocates for the language rights of all human beings, the LSA is rightfully concerned with the well-being of deaf and hard-of-hearing people, particularly with respect to access to education, medicine, employment, and full participation in civil and personal life. Likewise, the LSA is concerned with the well-being of all people who have a disorder that impacts language ability and use with respect to the same range of rights.”

We will continue to provide updates on COSSA’s and members’ efforts to advance ratification on COSSA’s Science and Human Rights page.

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Science Community Expresses Concern about Secret Science Reform Act

COSSA is among 43 organizations, led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), who sent letters to the House and Senate expressing concern about the Secret Science Reform Act (H.R. 4012), which is legislation seeking to “prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is specifically identified and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.” While staying neutral on the political issues that surround EPA’s rule-making process, which has been be major area of concern for House Republicans in particular, the interorganizational letter asks Congress to “take additional time to evaluate the unintended consequences” of H.R. 4012. Read on for more information.

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COSSA Washington Update Returns September 8

The next edition of the COSSA Washington Update will be published on September 8, 2014. In the meantime, updates and news can be found at

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