Issue 10 (June 2)


House Advances Bills to Cut Social Science Funding

As we have been reporting over the last several weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives has been busy considering legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, landmark legislation first enacted in 2007 to reignite U.S. investment in scientific research.  It serves as authorizing legislation for the National Science Foundation (NSF), among other agencies.  The House version of COMPETES reauthorization is a major departure from earlier versions, garnering deep opposition from the broader scientific community, including from COSSA. Among the many problematic provisions in the bill is language to cut NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) directorate by half.  Despite widespread opposition, the House passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806) on May 20 by a narrow margin (217-205).  The COMPETES bill now heads to the Senate, where we don’t expect to see any action until later in the summer or fall. (more…)

Census Bureau Outlines Content Changes to American Community Survey

The Census Bureau issued a Federal Register Notice on May 29 outlining its proposal for updating the content and methodologies of the American Community Survey (ACS). As previously reported the Census Bureau proposes to retain the field of degree and marriage questions originally slated for elimination from the ACS beginning in 2016.  In addition, the proposal plans to remove a couple of other questions that have been deemed of no or low benefit.  The Notice states these changes are an “initial step in a multi-faceted approach to reducing respondent burden.”

Public comment on the proposal is due by June 28; the proposal will be submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance.

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“Marshmallow Test” Researchers Named First 2015 Golden Goose Award Recipients

The first of the 2015 Golden Goose Awards, which recognize federally funded research that has had unanticipated societal and economic benefits, will go to three psychologists, Walter Mischel, Philip Peake, Yuichi Shoda, for their work related to self-control in children. In the late 1960s, Mischel developed the “marshmallow test” as a simple way to measure children’s ability to delay gratification. However, follow-up studies revealed an unexpected correlation between ability to exert self-control at a young age and success later in life. The work has had an enormous impact on our understanding of human behavior and changed the way we approach a whole host of topics from early childhood education to retirement planning. More information on the researcher is available on the Golden Goose website.

The researchers, along with the other still-unnamed Golden Goose Award recipients, will be honored at a ceremony in September. COSSA is a sponsor of the awards.

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NRC Board on Children, Youth, and Families Seeks Director

The Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BCYF) at the National Research Council is inviting applications for a new Board Director. The Director is responsible for overseeing activities of the Board, which “brings a multidisciplinary and evidence-based perspective to bear on the development of policies and programs for children, youth, and families, drawing upon the collective knowledge and analytic tools of the behavioral, health and social sciences.” More information and application instructions are available here.

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Events Calendar

Making Changes: Learning from Social Science Research to Drive Behavior Change, Washington, DC, June 18, 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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NIH Requests Comment on Precision Medicine Cohort, Strategies to Address Community Engagement and Health Disparities

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking feedback (NOT-OD-15-107) to help it in creating a national research cohort of one million or more Americans as part of the President’s proposed Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) (see Update, May 19, 2015).  The agency is specifically interested in feedback relating to the development and implementation of effective community engagement strategies for the cohort, and the ability to conduct transformative research to address health disparities.  The aim is to assemble a “cohort reflective of the rich diversity of the U.S. population.” (more…)

NIMHD: Advancing Health Disparities Interventions Through Community-Based Participatory Research

Research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has resulted in an increasing growth in knowledge of the complexity of the interactive factors influencing health across the life course. There is extensive research evidence that report poorer health outcomes for socially disadvantaged populations, including low-income and racial and ethnic groups. Many community health promotion and disease prevention programs fail for various reasons that include the lack of a participatory approach or cultural sensitivity, despite the recommendation for tailored and multilevel interventions. (more…)

The Census Project Sheds Light on the American Community Survey

The Census Project held an informational briefing, The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey: Ten Years of Delivering Data for Smart Decision-Making, on May 27 that focused on the wide use of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) and the reasons to support keeping the survey mandatory. COSSA was one of the cosponsors of this event.  (more…)

NIH: The Health of Sexual and Gender Minority Populations

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) focused on sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex populations.  Participating institutes and offices include: Cancer, Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Deafness and other Communication Disorders, Dental and Craniofacial, Mental Health, Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research. (more…)

NIMHD: Building Population Health Research Capacity in the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands

The United States-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) consist of the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau. The U.S. is responsible for the essential operations, health, education, and defense for these jurisdictions. The residents of these jurisdictions are considered to be a U.S. health disparity population. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, acknowledges that this geographic region has received very little NIH support to conduct health and health disparities research. (more…)

House FY 2016 CJS Bill Advances to the Floor

On May 20, the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill by voice vote.  Amendments to increase funding for the National Science Foundation and make other improvements to the bill were either defeated or withdrawn.  The bill now heads to the House floor.

The CJS bill totals $51.4 billion, which is a 2.5 percent increase over the FY 2015 CJS bill. CJS Subcommittee chairman John Culberson (R-TX) noted during the May 14 Subcommittee markup that this amount “is sufficient to fund essential programs.” The bill keeps within the spending caps currently tamping down discretionary spending, making the FY 2016 appropriations bills even more challenging than usual. President Obama has threatened to veto any appropriations bill that adheres to these caps, making the House CJS bill a non-starter with the White House.

While the National Science Foundation would see a small increase in the House proposal, the real winner in the bill is NASA, which happens to be a favorite of the chairman. The heavy focus and emphasis on NASA is one of the visible changes we are seeing with the new chairman, who replaced Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a long-time, staunch supporter of NSF, this year. NSF is largely downplayed in the House CJS bill when compared to recent years. As you will read in our analysis, the FY 2016 CJS bill differs from previous bills in several other ways as well.

In general, agencies and programs that support social and behavioral science research would fare quite poorly in the bill. Among the many challenging provisions, the bill seeks to limit support for social science research funding at NSF, would enable potentially deep cuts to the National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics, and would degrade the American Community Survey within the Census Bureau.

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


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