Issue 12 (June 30)


House and Senate Appropriations Committees Approve FY 2016 Labor-HHS Bills

The Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate advanced their respective fiscal year (FY) 2016 bills for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS). The House passed its version on June 24 (see COSSA’s preliminary analysis of the bill), and the Senate on June 25. Both bills would provide sizable increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with a larger increase coming from the Senate’s bill. The House bill proposes to completely eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) but maintains strong funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the Senate keeps AHRQ but would inflict significant cuts to both agencies.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of both bills and more details on the funding prospects for these and other agencies important to social and behavioral science.

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House Agriculture Appropriations Bill Would Cut USDA Research and Statistics

The House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee advanced its draft bill to the full committee on June 18. A full committee markup originally scheduled for June 25 was postponed. Among the agencies funded in the bill are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research and statistical agencies, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The Committee Report is available here. COSSA has joined the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA), a new coalition of stakeholders who care about timely, accurate, and objective food and agricultural statistics, on several letters to House staff to request stronger appropriations for ERS and NASS.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture would see a $5.2 million cut from FY 2015, $218.8 million below the President’s request. Hatch Act programs would be flat-funded. NIFA’s investigator-initiated grants program, the Agricultural Food and Research Initiative (AFRI), would receive a $10 million increase from FY 2015, still well below the Administration’s request of $450 million. Language in the Committee Report asks for additional clarity in next year’s budget request on how proposed funds for AFRI would be spent:

“For the fiscal year 2017 budget request, the Committee is particularly interested in the request for AFRI, and requests that the agency provide greater detail on the levels proposed to be allocated to and the expected publication date, scope, and allocation level for each request for awards to be published under each priority area specified in section 2(b)(2) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (7 U.S.C. 450i(b)(2)).”

The USDA’s principal statistical agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistical Service, do not fare as well under the House bill. The bill proposes an 8.6% cut for ERS, which would bring its funding down to $78.1 million. NASS would receive an $11.2 million cut from FY 2015, leaving it 10.6% below the level proposed in the President’s budget request. These cuts would likely force both agencies make cuts to their core products and services.


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COSSA Endorses Innovation Imperative

COSSA has joined more than 250 industry, science, and higher education organizations on “Innovation: An American Imperative,” which is a call to action urging Congress to double down on its investments in the U.S. innovation enterprise.  According to the statement, “Our leadership is now at risk because of years of under-prioritizing federal scientific research investments and policies that promote innovation.” In response to these concerns, the statement calls for Congress to take a number of steps, including ending cuts to discretionary spending, providing increases of at least four percent to basic research agencies, improving student achievement in STEM disciplines, and reaffirming the merit-based peer review system as the best mechanism for allocating federal research dollars.  #InnovationImperative

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OBSSR Marks 20th Anniversary at NIH, on Capitol Hill

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) marked its 20th anniversary with a three-day celebration on June 23-25 on the NIH Bethesda campus and Capitol Hill.

The celebration began with the 8th Matilda White Riley Award and Lecture in Behavioral and Social Sciences on June 23. The award is given in recognition of an outstanding behavioral or social scientist whose research has contributed to both the deepening of knowledge and its application in a manner that furthers NIH’s mission of improving health. This year the award went to Kevin Volpp and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. (more…)

ACS Launches New Website

The American Community Survey (ACS) has a new website.  The new site, according to the ACS office, “has a look and feel consistent with,” and should allow for easy user navigation.

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Events Calendar

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

National Conference on Health Statistics, Bethesda, MD, August 24-26, 2015

American Political Science Association Annual Meeting & Exhibition, San Francisco, CA, September 3-5, 2015

Economic History Association Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, September 11-13, 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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