Issue 09 (May 19)


House to vote on COMPETES Act

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806) tomorrow, May 20. The bill, which authorizes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other science agencies, has faced criticism from the scientific community. COSSA has published an analysis of the bill, as well as a statement opposing it. Click here to read all of our COMPETES coverage.

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Analysis of the Draft 21st Century Cures Act

On May 14, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee approved by voice vote its discussion draft of the 21st Century Cures Act.  An amendment to an earlier discussion draft was introduced by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX).  The bipartisan amendment incorporated federal agency and scientific community feedback to a draft bill the preceding day.

The legislation is scheduled to be considered by the full Energy and Commerce Committee the week of May 18; the Committee will convene for opening statements only on May 19 and on May 20 to mark up the bill.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the bill.

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OMB Asks Agencies to Plan for 5 Percent Reductions in FY 2017

Although Congress is just beginning the process of working to enact fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations for federal agencies and programs, agency officials are beginning their work on the FY 2017 budget request. In a memo from Shaun Donovan, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), federal agencies have been advised to prepare their FY 2017 budget proposals with a five percent reduction below the net discretionary total provided in the FY 2016 President’s budget request. The scenario is meant to assist the Administration in its efforts to “deliver a Government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth.” This is a common exercise in the annual federal budget preparation process. Additional details and guidance for FY 2017 can be viewed in the OMB memo.

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NCHS Releases Health, United States, 2014

The National Centers for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released the 2014 edition of its annual report, Health, United States, which compiles data on Americans’ health, including life expectancy, fertility, disease prevalence, use of health care, and health expenditures. The 2014 edition includes a special feature on adults aged 55-64—baby boomers who are about to become eligible for Medicare, and whose aging is expected to have a significant impact on the U.S. health care system.

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AHRQ Seeks Nominations for Advisory Council

The National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, which advises the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), is seeking nominations for new members to serve terms beginning in spring 2016. The Council is interested in individuals whose background includes: “(1) The conduct of research, demonstration projects, and evaluations with respect to health care; (2) the fields of health care quality research or health care improvement; (3) the practice of medicine; (4) other health professions; (5) representing the private health care sector (including health plans, providers, and purchasers) or administrators of health care delivery systems; (6) the fields of health care economics, information systems, law, ethics, business, or public policy; and, (7) representing the interests of patients and consumers of health care.” More information is available in the Federal Register notice. Nominations must be received by July 6, 2015.

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NIH: AIDS Research Center/Developmental Research Centers on Mental Health and HIV/AIDS

The Division of AIDS Research (DAR) within the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking applications for Center Core grants to support an HIV/AIDS Research Center (ARC) (PAR-15-197) and applications to support Developmental AIDS Research Centers (D-ARC) (PAR-15-196). ARC supports innovative, interdisciplinary research in the areas of basic research, neuro-AIDS, behavioral and social, integrated biobehavioral, clinical, translational, and implementation science. D-ARC provides infrastructure support that facilitates the development of high impact science in HIV/AIDS and mental health that is relevant to the NIMH mission.

NIMH’s intent is to support research that addresses the most current research priorities in the field. Accordingly, the proposed ARC priorities should align with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and international research directions outlined in guidance from the NIH Office of AIDS Research (OAR). The Centers must have the potential to support research in a variety of areas: biological, biomedical, behavioral, neuroscience, mental health, prevention, clinical sciences, and implementation science research. ARCs are expected to serve as local, regional, national, and global resources for rigorous HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and implementation science. D-ARCs have the potential to assemble the evidence base critical to health policy decisions-making pertaining to resource allocation, strategic priorities, and best practices.

Applications are due September 14, 2015.

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Events Calendar

NSF Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee Meeting, Arlington, VA, May 19-20, 2015

Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, May 28-31, 2015

OBSSR 20th Anniversary Celebration, Bethesda, MD, June 23-25, 2015

OBSSR Capitol Hill Exhibition & Reception, Washington, DC, June 24, 2015

American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada, August 6-9, 2015

Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Madison, WI, August 6-9, 2015

American Statistical Association Joint Statistical Meetings, Seattle, WA, August 8-13, 2015

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, August 22-25, 2015

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA website. COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to

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PCAST Hears Interim Report on Precision Medicine Initiative

On May 15, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) received an interim report on the President’s proposed Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). Opening the meeting, PCAST co-chair and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) John Holdren discussed the ongoing budget process and the challenges associated with the FY 2016 budget. Despite these challenges, Holdren noted, there are a number of exciting initiatives in progress, including the Precision Medicine Initiative. (more…)

NRC Report Offers Guidance on Team Science

Given the increasing number of scientists engaged in collaborative research, referred to as “team science,” the National Research Council (NRC) appointed the Committee on the Science of Team Science, chaired by Nancy J. Cooke, Arizona State University, to conduct and release a consensus study to provide guidance for these science teams or groups. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Elsevier, and the final report, entitled Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science, was released on April 24. (more…)

NSF Requests Nominations to Advisory Committees

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued its annual call for recommendations for membership to its various advisory committees and technical boards. These committees advise NSF’s offices and directorates on program management, research direction,  and policies impacting the agency.  Committees of particular interest to the COSSA community include the Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences and the Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources.  Recommendations for membership are maintained for 12 months.

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House FY 2016 CJS Bill: Preliminary Analysis

On May 13, a draft of the fiscal year (FY) 2016 House Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill was publicly released in anticipation of the CJS Subcommittee markup scheduled for Thursday, May 14.  This is the bill that provides annual appropriations to the National Science Foundation (NSF), Census Bureau and other statistical agencies, and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). [It should not be confused with the NSF reauthorization (COMPETES) bill that we have also been reporting on in recent weeks.]

Outlined below are preliminary details on the contents of the draft bill as it pertains to federal agencies important to the social and behavioral science research community. We will know more, such as whether there are any provisions specifically targeting social science, once the Committee Report is released, likely next week.


National Science Foundation
  • Total NSF funding = $7.39 billion, 0.68% or $50 million over FY 2015 funding, 4.3% below the President’s request
  • The $50 million increase would go to the Research & Related Activities account, which is where NSF’s science directorates are funded.
  • The Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate would be flat funded at $866 million.
  • Most importantly, the House bill would not appropriate specific funding levels for each research directorate, which is a proposal within the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806) that COSSA and the broad scientific community strongly opposes.  
cjs-fy16-nsf Census Bureau
  • Total Census Bureau Funding = $1.113 billion, 2.3% or $25 million above FY 2015 but 25.8% below the President’s request.
  • Current Surveys and Programs = $265 million, 1.4% below FY 2015 and 4.6% below the President’s request
  • Periodic Censuses and Programs = $848 million, 3.5% above FY 2015 but 30.6% below the President’s request.
  • The bill language does not specify the funding level for the American Community Survey (ACS); Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) has been a vocal critic of the ACS in recent months. We could see ACS-specific language in the Committee Report when it is released.
cjs-fy16-censusDepartment of Justice

Funding levels are not yet known for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) or the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

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